Three Blog Ideas That Worked

Last week I shared a companion post to this one, Three Blog Ideas that Failed. In it I stressed that blogging is subjective. What’s worked for one site may not have the same reception on another.

Don’t focus on having a great blog. Focus on producing a blog that’s great for your readers.

Brian Clark, source

In last week’s post I highlighted just three things I’ve tried over the past four years of blogging. Many more ideas, design elements, and collaboration attempts failed. However, I felt that the three I included are things many folks set up as well. Enough talk about failure! Let’s discuss three blog ideas that have worked for anotherhartmanauthor.com.


FIVE QUESTION INTERVIEWS
Introverts. We like our routines, our happy places, and our hobbies. The very idea of my participating in book release activities intimidates me, so who am I to disrupt someone else’s life by inviting them to take part in a web-based interview?

Then I thought: If I can’t be brave enough to take a chance on someone else, who, then, would be willing to do the same for me? Of course, I’m not expecting reciprocation. That would be completely presumptuous of me.

But readers want to hear from their favorite authors, and not just within the context of a social media environment. They want to know what makes fellow authors tick, what inspired the idea for a novel, or what tools they use to help them write. I am very grateful to everyone who participated in 2019’s interviews, and I’m looking forward to connecting with even more of you in 2020!

CONNECTING via SOCIAL MEDIA
After deactivating my Facebook account after eleven years of maintaining one, I didn’t think I’d ever want to get back into social media again. I kept my Twitter account, but I’d also deactivated my Instagram, Pinterest, MySpace, etc. We can compare all these social media accounts to the many, many streaming accounts now available for television viewership. With Netflix leading the Calvary, weren’t we supposed to save money by cancelling cable and moving to web based content. Consumerism is all about having options. The same goes for social media. While these services are free to set up and use, there comes a point when it’s just too much.

For me, I do all my interacting on Twitter. I use Pinterest to share #WIP aesthetics and build up inspiration boards for writing. And I very, very rarely use my newly established Instagram account. Bloggers know where their readers come from and adjust their online habits accordingly. I’ve also come to love TweetDeck. It’s made social media a much more enjoyable experience by providing streamlining tools to weed out all the things you don’t want to see. Or by showing you things you want to be a part of.

Find what works for YOU, and be consistent.

CONSISTENT BLOGGING
From 2016 to 2017, things weren’t consistent on anotherhartmanauthor.com. Even though I wanted to grow this site, my writing journey was just beginning. If I managed to post content, it was all a complete reiteration of someone else’s idea. Of course, there’s “nothing new under the sun,” as they say, but I hadn’t yet found my niche (does that word sound familiar?).

As 2018 and 2019 rolled around, discussing blog topics on early stages of writing and newly learned history felt more natural. People know when you’re not expert. They can tell by your words and sources you choose to quote. (Still, always reference your sources).

For four years I worked without a set blogging schedule. A few weeks ago I recognized my need for one in this post, and I’m slowly working on incorporating it into my life. Pre-scheduling blog posts also helps. That way, you can write it in advance and, if your web host offers it, you can set it to go live on a future date.


So, did you pick up on today’s theme? If you guessed consistency, then you’re right! Consistency is the key behind all these things working together.

Consistency brings us back to the original quote shared at the beginning of this post – Don’t focus on having a great blog. Focus on producing a blog that’s great for your readers.

In 2018 I realized I was blogging for myself, not others. A new game plan was needed, and incorporating these three things + consistency, has helped. I’m far from perfect, and everything’s still a work in progress.

Just make sure that, in whatever you decide to do with your blog, it brings you, and others, joy.

Three Blog Ideas That Failed

Blogging. It’s such an obscure topic. What works for one may not work for all. Bloggers who’ve been around five or more years have established followers and loyal readers, so they know what their audience looks for. Each website creator has their own niche of interests, and their content reflects that.

Niche /niCH,nēSH/ – adj. – denoting or relating to products, services, or interests that appeal to a small, specialized section of the population

Source – Google Search

This site began in 2016. Its intent – a place where we can collectively share writing experiences and maybe, just maybe, the things I’ve learned along the way can help someone else. Speaking of, here are three blog ideas that failed on anotherhartmanauthor.com over the past four years.


A MONTHLY NEWSLETTER
I’m not yet an established author, so I don’t even know why I thought I’d quickly gain readership with an e-newsletter. I don’t have a degree in English Lit. I’m not an experienced historian. I haven’t worked in publishing. Hence I had little to contribute to a market already saturated with e-newsletters. The extra work accomplished but one thing: it was an effective manuscript diversion and everyone knew it. Readers are savvy folks, dontcha know?

Any time you think to add one more task, ask if it’ll interfere with your writing goals. It it does, reevaluate. It might be a worthy addition later on.

SHORT STORY SERIES
Roughly two years ago I attempted posting a short story series. I’ve thought a lot about its concept – Could it work as a subplot for my WIP? Could I eventually have it published on its own in some magazine? Is the story even worth exploring? While I kept the story within my chosen genre and era (Victorian historical adventure), it was nothing but a procrastination method. Just as the e-newsletter was. It kept me from concentrating on my actual goals.

I am, in no way, saying you can’t have multiple projects running at one time. Do what works for you. And I can only concentrate on one story and one alone. Who knows? Perhaps my writing multitasking will improve as I grow my craft.

BOOK REVIEWS
If you know me, you’ll know that I’m the least opinionated person in my family. When I am, it’s because I absolutely love something and will sing its praises. That’s why I’m the worst book reviewer. Personally, it’s a strange feeling to say anything negative about someone else’s hard work.

At first it wasn’t too much of a problem. That is, until writer friends asked me to review their newly published books. While I appreciated their faith in me, I found I couldn’t properly review without bias. They say to bookend a con with two pros. But what does one do if there are more cons than pros? No. I couldn’t carry on with the reviews. Besides, there are more people out there with stronger voices than I.


We creatives can be very emotional creatures, can’t we? I’ve included myself in that because I know just how defensive I can sometimes get when someone critiques my work.

Remember – anything you put online is a reflection of your business. That’s right. Business. Creating content is a physical representation and extension of yourself as a writer. Removing emotion from your business is easier said than done. It’s perfectly normal to feel dejected when something doesn’t quite work out the way you wanted it to.

It’ll take time for you to find your niche, but there’s absolutely no harm in trying something new!

My Top Five Writing Distractions

Each and every writer gets distracted. Deny it if you like, but you know what distracts you from your goals the most. Here are my top five writing distractions.

Research Rabbit Holes

As a historical adventure writer, research is part of my personal journey. When the idea for my work in progress first came forth, I never imagined I’d spend the next four years going down the research rabbit hole.

Old habits are hard to break. Getting stuck on research for days on end prompted the creation of a weekly schedule, and I intend to stick to it. Mondays are now designated non-fiction days, so hopefully that will help keep me on track for the rest of the week.

However, research can lead to ideas for other stories…

Ideas for Other Stories

You have a light bulb moment as you read a biography about a person who once existed. Or an idea for a spin off series from the one you’re currently writing pops into your head. Or you decide to write a script for your own science fiction series after being a fan of Doctor Who for years. No…you should be working on your WIP, shouldn’t you?

Does any of that sound familiar? That’s what happens when I do research. I’ve got piles and piles of notes, and not all of them pertain to my current project. But that’s one of the joys of discovery. And a curse of being a creative. I’ll never give up research. And by Jove, if it sparks another book for The Firedamp Chronicles, I won’t be mad at all.

Social Media (yes, that includes this blog)

This distraction is the most self-explanatory of all, and the trickiest to rein in. With Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, MySpace, Instagram and so many others vying for attention, it’s a wonder I get anything done. Sometimes I don’t.

I envy people who’ve managed to find a healthy balance between their online activities with daily life. Perhaps, since I’ve finally set up a writing/reading/research schedule, that it’s time to set up one for social media activity as well.

All the Korean Dramas

American television. Although I am a citizen of the United States, I know diddly squat about what’s on prime time or currently popular. What I do know are Korean dramas. Would it surprise you to know I adore an amazing historical Joseon Era drama over, say, an American episode of CSI?

My love for Korean dramas began during the summer of 2008. I lived and worked on my college campus repairing and repainting dorm rooms. When work was done, I dug up as my episodes of Boys Over Flowers as I could. Now Korean dramas are easily available from Viki to Netflix. And they’re my number one crutch when it comes to staying on task with my reading. Just as I do with my reading, I have to plan out time to binge a new (or rewatch an old) Korean drama. Along with my love for Star Trek, my love for Korean dramas will never go away.

I just have to make sure they don’t interfere with my love of books.

Good Ol’ Procrastination

And finally, there’s good ol’ procrastination. Whether it’s watching a myriad of YouTube videos for an entire afternoon, stress baking all the cookies, or constantly checking emails for query responses, perhaps it’s a sign you truly need a break from your computer or notebook.

When I find myself drifting, it’s time to step away – do some gardening, clean the house, take care of family – and detox from all the words. Especially if nothing’s clicking or making sense.

It’s okay to take a break from your project. And maybe, just maybe, that a mundane task may be just what you need to reset and rejuvenate.

What distracts you the most? Feel free to share them below and know you’re not alone!

A Three Blog Roundup | Part One

In 1991 I was six years old and the Internet was just a baby. In 1991 blog, SEOs, tags and website providers didn’t exist. The world in 2020 has never felt smaller, and that’s an amazing thing. That’s what I like about these kinds of posts, because they bring attention to others in the publishing biz from around the globe. We all share a common goal, no matter what language we speak: to become better writers, editors, publishers, artists or agents. Here are three blogs on editing, technique and grammar for you to explore.

Shady Characters

Keith Houston is a published author who enjoys talking about the nuances of punctuation. In fact, I’m sure (if he ever reads this post) that he’ll analyze the crap out of my writing. And he’ll be right in doing so. I can’t help but be jealous with one of his recent accomplishments – publishing a book in Korean – because that’s one of my publishing dreams! If you’re looking for some quirk and learning along the way, check out Keith’s blog.

Links


source: Google images

Here’s a blog post I wrote last year about my favorite Victorian slang,
and one on punctuation I never knew had names.

Helping Writers Become Authors

I hope yinz (that’s a Pittsburgh word) aren’t sick of reading about Ms. KM Weiland on this site, but I can’t sign her praises enough. Her blog is a great resource for practical writing solutions, writing community encouragement and so much more. Okay, okay. I may be a little biased here. But she was one of the first people I connected with when my writing journey began in 2016. I sincerely hope you check her craft books out!

Here’s a blog post I recently wrote about life needing structure, along with our stories.

Grammar Girl

Brain farts. We all have them as we work through our writing processes. Sometimes it’s a word that just won’t come to mind. Or something we wrote is quite grammatically wrong and we can’t put a finger on why. That’s where Grammar Girl, aka Mignon Fogarty, comes into play. Her posts explore everything and anything, well, grammar related. I, for one, am incredibly grateful for her tips. If you’re ever stumped for words, take a break and read some posts on word choice. All writers can benefit from a bit of non-fiction.

Links


source = grammarly

Well, there you have it! Three blogs that deal with punctuation, technique and grammar. Do you have any go-to blogs for writing help or general writing amusement? Feel free to share their links in the comments below.

Do you like this type of post? Let me know if you’d like to see more Blog Roundups in the future.

Life Needs Structure, Too.

ADDENDUM: Wednesday isn’t listed in the graphic below because I, well, forgot to include it! But Wednesdays are Family Dinner Nights after work, so not much can happen anyway.

What does a lack of structure say about one’s insecurities?

One would think that, after years of working retail and food service, I’d realize I need structure. I graduated college in 2011, and from high school in 2006. Back then I was happy living only by my work schedule. I didn’t (and still don’t) have my own family unit to manage. There were no more papers to write or deadlines to meet with homework. I also wasn’t happy after 2011. Sure, there’s a certain number of insecurities that are still present. But I firmly believe that, because of a lack of structure and drive throughout my late twenties, I am where I am today.

Bored with life.

This particular blog post got deep real fast, didn’t it?

Confession: I’m not proud of many of the decisions I’ve made over the past ten years. Most of my mistakes were financial in nature, and a few health issues arose due to the situation(s) I put myself in. This isn’t something that’s easy for me to speak on, so I’ll say this last piece on it: I am still privileged. I don’t use that term lightly. While I’m still near the poverty line attempting to pay off hospital bills and all that jazz, I have a roof over my head, parents who love me,

What’s the best decision I’ve ever made? Dipping a toe into storytelling.

And this is where things got crazy.

Not only did I lack a certain level of confidence to actually put words on a page, I spent the latter years of the 2010 decade researching. While I learned a whole lot about my subject matter, created characters based off real life folks, and started this blog, I still barely got those words out. I love blaming it all on my uncanny ability to procrastinate, but it reality it was zero self esteem, zero confidence, and zero structure.

“What are you going to do moving forward along this path to possible publication?” you ask.

“I’m a ‘plotter,’ not a ‘pantser,’ so it’s time to make a plan! I need a plan.” *searches other blogs for inspiration. “Okay. none of that looked write for me. I’ll make my own, then!”

Let’s go back to this post’s original thesis statement:

What does a lack of structure say about one’s insecurities?

I know this is going to take time. Change isn’t an easy thing for me. But this reevaluation was necessary if I want to reach my goal of becoming a published author by 2025. I’m taking back my narrative, working on my insecurities, and now I’ve got a plan to help with all that.

Because stories aren’t the only things to need a plan.

Life needs structure, too.

The Third Roast ft. Tara Theresa Hill

“A room without books is like a body without a soul.”

Marcus Tullius Cicero – source

No writer, no human being for that matter, can go at life alone. Somewhere along the way we all realize at some point that we need others to help us along, and vice versa. My own journey began nearly four years ago, and I’ve learned to take constructive criticism as objectively as I can. When you put words out for the world to see, you’ve got to expect scrutiny. If you don’t, you’re really looking at the world through rose colored glasses.

Welcome to a new collaborative blog series called Roast My Post. It’s a quest to not only get to know others in the writing community, but learn from their own experiences and share the wealth of their knowledge with you. For The Third Roast, I’ve invited author and brand new blogger Tara Theresa Hill to pick apart another early blog post titled “Books vs. E-Readers.” Grab a snack or beverage of choice – it’s gonna be a long one!


The Intellectual Question of the Century: Books or E-Readers? Hi, everyone.  My name is Tara Theresa Hill.  Leigh invited me to write a guest blog for her Roast My Post series.  This is my very first guest blog, so I am a little nervous about writing for someone else.  Since this blog piece highlights the differences between traditional books and e-readers, I’ll try to play the neutral party as much as possible in deciding which one is the winner.  Though I do have a personal favorite! (Wink, wink.) Okay, let’s get this debate going!  

I love the opening paragraph of the description of the bookstore!  The enticing smells of the pages of books and of coffee brewing make me want to run to the nearest bookshop right now.  I might add, however, that you forgot to mention one other thing that is usually sold in bookstores everywhere: chocolate!  Seriously, how could you possibly forget that? Are you not a fan of chocolate? (Sigh.) Whether you are or not, the combination of the delightful smells and atmosphere are a win, so score one for traditional books.


Books vs. E-Readers

  1. Delightful aromas and atmosphere wherever books are sold!


So, you’re a book sniffer, huh?  That’s alright. I’ve smelt a few before myself.  Although, it can be a bit hazardous if one has dust allergies or gets lightheaded from perfumes.  I like how you’re setting the scene for this blog. It’s like you’re telling me a story instead of just comparing and contrasting two different ways of delivering information.  Also, now I’m curious about what it would be like to work in a bookshop. Could I really read whatever I want, work at the same time, and get paid for that? Sounds like a dream job!  

I appreciate the mini history lesson about how e-readers came to be created.  I was not aware of this. To be honest, I wasn’t a big fan of e-readers when they came out either.  I still think it’s a good idea to have print books, so I guess I’m a little old-fashioned that way. Also, I love Star Trek, too! 😊    

I agree that it used to be hard to figure out what books to take along on a trip.  E-readers have definitely helped solve that problem for the most part. Not only that, but you can also always download more books from libraries and you never run out of space.  Of course, there is something that could displace the e-reader in this capacity and give traditional books a boost again. Imagine if they could create something like Hermione’s purse.  She was able to store entire stacks of books in that thing. Oh, well. I guess we’ll just have to make do with the e-reader for now since we don’t have enchanted purses yet. Score one for the electronic books!


Books vs. E-Readers

  1. Delightful aromas and atmosphere wherever books are sold!
  1. Infinite space to store books.

Hmm…It’s hard to roast something that I agree with.  You’re not making this easy on me, Leigh. E-readers do encourage people to read more.  I’m fond of reading on my phone. I try not to do it for long lengths of time because it can irritate my eyes.  Ah ha! Now, I’ve got you! You forgot about that. Traditional books aren’t as strenuous on the eyes as e-readers can be.  To keep things fair, I guess I’ll give each team a point. 


Books vs. E-Readers

  1. Delightful aromas and atmosphere wherever books are sold!
  2. Easier on the eyes.
  1. Infinite space to store books.
  2. Able to access books more easily.


I was hoping that you would bring up Reading Rainbow and you didn’t disappoint me!  I absolutely loved that program when I was a kid. I still have the theme song memorized.  (Hums…Butterfly in the sky…I can go twice as high!) And when we talk about Reading Rainbow, naturally you have to bring up Star Trek again because of Levar Burton playing Geordi LaForge.  You make a good point though! The technology of the e-reader has made it possible for a whole new generation to enjoy Reading Rainbow. Well, since Reading Rainbow encourages reading both traditional books and e-books, I’ll give each group another point. 


Books vs. E-Readers

  1. Delightful aromas and atmosphere wherever books are sold!
  2. Easier on the eyes.
  3. Reading Rainbow!
  1. Infinite space to store books.
  2. Able to access books more easily.
  3. Reading Rainbow!

Hmm…The score is tied so far.  I’m starting to wonder about the outcome of this competition.  The next paragraph is about libraries. I love going to the library.  It’s even better than the bookstore because everything there is free. What a marvelous institution!  I remember the day that I discovered that I could borrow books electronically from my library. I was at work and I couldn’t find something good to read on my break.  I mentioned this in passing to my coworker and she told me about the library app on my phone. I was so excited that you would have thought that I had won the lottery or something.  Since you can get books from the library or via the e-reader app on your phone, that’s another point for both teams.


Books vs. E-Readers

  1. Delightful aromas and atmosphere wherever books are sold!
  2. Easier on the eyes.
  3. Reading Rainbow!
  4. Free library books.
  1. Infinite space to store books.
  2. Able to access books more easily.
  3. Reading Rainbow!
  4. Free library books.


The final score is a tie!  When it comes down to it, you’ll enjoy a good book no matter what way it is presented.  Thanks to Leigh for inviting me to do a guest post on her blog, although I think this post ended up being more of a toast than a roast. 

Hey, I can’t help it if I agree with most of what she said. 

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go Google clips of Reading Rainbow and make some hot chocolate.  


Since childhood, Tara Theresa Hill has been fascinated by ghosts, hauntings, and the afterlife.  Her writing explores what would happen if the barriers between the two worlds were taken away and humans and spirits were suddenly able to fully interact with each other.  These aren’t your typical hauntings. Unlike more traditional two-dimensional ghosts, the spirits in Tara’s stories are fully developed characters with their own distinct personalities and backstories.  They are trying to figure out the afterlife and like to help the living rather than hinder them.  

Tara also writes a fictional blog called The Haunted Writer which is about the friendship between a writer and her muse who just happens to be a ghost.  To read Tara’s blog or to find out more information about Tara and her writing, please check out her author website: https://www.hauntedwriter.com/

Tara’s Links

Two Introverts Walk Into a Conference

I am an introvert and creature of habit. Everything in my home has purpose and a place to go, a structured schedule gives me life, and I’m in my element when alone.

“I have to be alone very often. I’d be quite happy if I spent from Saturday night until Monday morning alone in my apartment. That’s how I refuel.”

Audrey Hepburn – source

Let’s face it. The title of this blog post sounds like the opening of a pretty bad joke. However, that’s really what my mother and I are like among a crowd of people. I get my introversion from her. You wouldn’t believe it if you knew everything we’re involved in. Volunteering, working in retail, and coordinating projects are just a few examples. I’d call us “high functioning introverts.”

Two weeks ago mom mentioned she had to go to Delaware through a non-profit we both volunteer with and I went as her travel buddy. “I’ve never been to Delaware,” I said. “Let’s go!” The event was the Christian Product Expo, and my mom helps out with ordering and making connections for the non-profit.

Ironic, right?

I mainly wanted to go to interact with the publishers – Harper Collins, Barbour Publishing and DaySpring, just to name a few – and see what books they showcase at this kind of event. However, as soon as we stepped into that conference hall both our hearts dropped.

There were so. Many. People.

Okay, I may be exaggerating a bit here, but with five rows of vendors and publishers, we knew we needed to regroup and make a game plan for the day.

“I think a lot, but I don’t say much.”

Anne Frank – source

Mom and I manage to get through two rows before we’re mentally exhausted. Cue information overload. I can’t imagine traveling around with any conference or expo for a living. So we took a break and spent the rest of the afternoon chilling in the lobby. She went over booklets, contacts and the like while I worked on this blog post.

I must say that I’m proud of myself for gathering the courage to talk with the reps from the publishers that really interested me. I got just three business cards, but I discovered who carries the books of one of my favorite authors of fairy tale retellings – Melanie Dickerson! That made it easier to connect over books and hopefully opened the door for future contact. I’m getting ahead of myself here….

The Lessons Learned

Neither my mom nor I knew what to expect going into an event like this. That’s what daunted us the most about the experience. Here’s what I learned.

  1. Do Your Research – find out what publishers are looking for, who they represent, and read those books before going to an event. It’ll help conversation flow and show them you know the market. This is something I need to start working on!
  2. You Are Not Alone – you’re wrong if you think you’re the only introvert walking into that expo or conference. Don’t sell yourself short either – you’ve got props for just showing up! Yes, there are folks who’ve done things like this far longer, but most are extremely helpful.

Two introverts walked into a conference and came out feeling a bit more confident in themselves. “We did it!” Mom and I both said. We didn’t cover all the booths, but it was, overall, a really good learning experience. I don’t know if we’ll attend again in the future, but now I know at least some of the etiquette that comes along with it. Don’t pressure yourselves into thinking you must do it all and meet all the people.

Just let you shine through.

The Second Roast ft. Iseult Murphy

“There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.”

Frank Herbert – source

No writer, no human being for that matter, can go at life alone. Somewhere along the way we all realize at some point that we need others to help us along, and vice versa. My own journey began nearly four years ago, and I’ve learned to take constructive criticism as objectively as I can. When you put words out for the world to see, you’ve got to expect scrutiny. If you don’t, you’re really looking at the world through rose colored glasses.

Welcome to a new collaborative blog series called Roast My Post. It’s a quest to not only get to know others in the writing community, but learn from their own experiences and share the wealth of their knowledge with you. For The Second Roast, I’ve invited author Iseult Murphy to pick apart my second ever blog post titled “Pros and Cons of Writing.” Grab a snack or beverage of choice – it’s gonna be a long one!


I became aware of Leigh when she interviewed me last year. Publicizing ME is the kind of activity I like to encourage in other people, so when I saw she was looking for guests to Roast her Posts (thought it was something to do with food originally. Have to say, I’m disappointed), I graciously agreed. People may call me many things, and generous is always one of them.

A screenshot of a cell phone

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Let’s start at the very beginning. That’s a very good place to start, or so they say. However, Leigh obviously hasn’t heard this, or, if she has, she hasn’t taken this advice to heart. I commend her choice of blue, it is my favourite colour, so I approve, but I’m not sure about her blog subjects. I love books, so I get that, and she is posting about writing. Logging… okay, I suppose it links into books because of paper? Elieving I have never heard of, and I know every word in the English language, and some in other languages (there is a lot of crossover), so I think she has made this word up. What does ELIEVING mean, Leigh? If you are going to make up words, at least give us the meaning!

Anyway, on to the post. PROS AND CONS OF WRITING. I admire Leigh for broaching such a subject. I’ve heard of some writers who have done hard time, but I wasn’t aware of the eh, how do I put this delicately – escorts? – of the writing industry. Oh wait, wasn’t there that book by that one person…? Never mind, Leigh is going to enlighten me. * cracks knuckles * This is going to be one hell of a post!

A screenshot of a social media post

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Now, Leigh, if you want to be taken seriously for your writing, you have to know how to punctuate things properly. I’ve put in the proper song quotes for you. No thanks necessary (although it’s appreciated). 

I think I’m getting a handle on your sense of humour. You certainly like making stuff up, anyway. The first line of the keyboard spells out WRITER. Haha, Leigh, good one.

I don’t think any writer thought they weren’t good enough either. I certainly never did. Good, strong, solid start, Leigh. Of course, you ruin it in the next sentence. You think Tolkien never wrote something that wasn’t published? His estate has been doing something wrong for the last fifty years in that case!

A screenshot of a cell phone

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I’m not sure where you are going with this, but I’ll play along until you dish the dirt about all those writers and their run ins with the law. 

I’m not sure it is nice to say loving history is a con. Aren’t you a historical novel writer, Leigh? Way to shoot yourself in the foot. Although, I suppose it might be a bit of a snooze fest if you have to hang around with all those librarians and knowledgeable folks. You should start writing fantasy, you get to MAKE IT ALL UP! It is great. As for jet setting around the world and writing it off as research – haha! Good one, Leigh. I’m on to you. “Research” indeed.

A screenshot of a cell phone

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Yes, I do love writing but, how did you know? I can spell boobs with a calculator too, but that isn’t such a neat trick anymore (thanks to you, iphones). 

A little word on Mr A Hitler, who you so glibly reference in your ‘resolution’ paragraph. He didn’t become one of the most hated men in history until AFTER he published Mein Kampf. That’s something to think about, would be writers.

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What are these resources you speak of? I’m assuming they are the pumpkin cookies in the picture. How is this a pro, exactly, and how will it make my writing better? More importantly, where can I get some? If you are going to throw out advice like this, Leigh, please give more detail. I notice you don’t hold back about advocating arson in the next (next) paragraph, although what you have against bridges is unclear. I’ve always found them very helpful for crossing bodies of water (contrary to popular opinion, I am not a witch or a vampire).

A screenshot of a cell phone

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I think you must have got tired when you wrote this, because it is all over the place. You offer writing advice and you can’t even spell vocabulary? Tut tut. I agree that Will Forte is a con, but it seems a bit harsh to call him out publicly. 

Now, we’re getting to the good stuff. Anyone can write – yay! I’m so glad, because I wouldn’t have a chance otherwise, now would I? I like your shout out to John Donne, although the reference is a bit random. 

Leigh, you shouldn’t put yourself down like that. Of course, one person can know everything. As I stated at the start of this post, I know every word in the English language (and a few in other languages), so you really shouldn’t be selling yourself so short. Aim high, my friend! 

You started this resolution paragraph so upbeat, I’m disappointed that you ended on a downer. Go back to school? No thank you! However, I am interested in these Writer’s Blocks you mention. Are they like Lego? Do they come in sets?

A screenshot of a social media post

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Here we are at the end of the post, and not one mention of prostitutes (I see now you meant professionals! I didn’t see that twist coming. Good one, Leigh) and conmen until the second last line. I’ve been waiting the whole post for this, but I have to give it to you, it is good advice. I’ll break it down for the less bright readers who mightn’t have got your message.

Find what kind of prose makes you happy (meaning another writer’s work that is hugely successful) and run with it (publish it as your own and run all the way to the bank!).

Thanks for that, Leigh, you got to the gold in the end.


Iseult Murphy writes horror, fantasy and science fiction, as she feels that the most difficult aspects of life can be best explored through the lens of speculative fiction. She is a member of the Horror Writers Association, and her writing has won several awards, including the RDS Young Science Writers competition and BBC Wildlife Poetry competition.

She currently resides on the east coast of Ireland with five dogs, two cats, a parrot and a couple of humans. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys reading, art and spending time with her animals.

She posts book reviews and about writing on her website iseultmurphy.com, you can find her on twitter @AuthorIseult and buy her books on Amazon.

The First Roast ft. Rebecca Zornow

As an unpublished, nonprofessional writer working on my first novel, I nevertheless had access to extremely talented people who would help make my manuscript better, people who’ve made careers out of providing careful, constructive criticism to writers. I’m tremendously grateful to them

Chris Pavone – source

No writer, no human being for that matter, can go at life alone. Somewhere along the way we all realize at some point that we need others to help us along, and vice versa. My own journey began nearly four years ago, and I’ve learned to take constructive criticism as objectively as I can. When you put words out for the world to see, you’ve got to expect scrutiny. If you don’t, you’re really looking at the world through rose colored glasses.

Welcome to a new collaborative blog series called Roast My Post. It’s a quest to not only get to know others in the writing community, but learn from their own experiences and share the wealth of their knowledge with you. For The First Roast, I’ve invited scifi and fantasy writer Rebecca Zornow to pick apart my very first post titled “The Dream That Star Trek Gave Me.” Enjoy!


So I know this person named Leigh. Leigh A. Hartman. Not IRL, but on Twitter. And she’s always posting about making soups and how cold she is in the winter and Star Trek and the tiny piece of paper that was stuck under her space bar for half a year, but which she finally got out (yey).

Leigh’s a writer but she also blogs. As you know. Because you’re here on her blog.

I’m a blogger myself and let me tell you, it isn’t easy putting your thoughts on display for the world to see (and even harder when it’s only your mom reading—not that I’d know about that. Also, hi mom!). Leigh’s been doing a great thing for the writing community with her Five Question Interview series and blogging about her writing journey so that others can learn. 

So, as a fellow writer, science fiction nerd, and hater of tiny papers that get stuck in bad places, I was happy to offer to roast her first ever blog post. The one from four years ago. The one about Star Trek. Oh yeah, let’s get started.

“The Dream that Star Trek Gave Me”. Oh, dear, what a title. I’m just regular folk on the internet in 2016 and see this first ever blog post on some person’s blog and I’m supposed to stick around for this? Well, I do like Star Trek. So, ok, I guess so.

(Leigh here — I do hate titling things, but back to Rebecca!)

Ah, Leigh makes the classic blogger mistake of thinking we’re interested in what her life was like at age 10. Or around age 10. She’s not really sure and neither am I.

Whoa, now we’re getting into it. Leigh was a kid who preferred to read than to interact. You know, I think a lot of writers feel this way—that the same things they were made to feel bad for as kids are the very qualities that drive them to be successful writers now. Because of that, I’ll give Leigh a pass for baring these deep childhood memories before we even know what her blog’s about.

Ah ha! Leigh did not use the Oxford comma. *unfollow*

(It’s Leigh again. Not everyone uses that Oxford comma thingy [I said that just to annoy you wink wink]).

Ok, now this is all making sense. Leigh’s giving us the whole backstory of why she was driven to be a writer.

Here comes the “hope” talk. All Star Trek fans get like this—all optimistic and emotional. That’s why I’m more of a GalaxyQuest kinda girl. At least, I would be if I had seen it in the last decade.

Oh no. And now Leigh put “intellectual” in quotes. One of us just used quotes the right way. Guess who it was? Me! It was me!

(Leigh here. I’m just gonna put everything in quotations from now on *insert evil laughing gif* Kidding!)

Okay, okay, Leigh, I guess you have a point here.

(Leigh here again – Rebecca, I’m gonna need that on a mug!) Back to Rebecca….

I’m 31 right now! Don’t knock it! 

I really hope Leigh doesn’t end any of her other posts this way.

Like every blogger, it’s clear that Leigh wasn’t quite sure what she was going to write about once she got on the internet. Childhood troubles, grammatical errors, burning dreams. We’ll I’m glad she got it all out of her system so she could focus on building a blog that seeks to create a community for writers and help them on their journey.

Cheers, Leigh!


Rebecca Zornow writes science fiction and nonfiction and is a former magazine editor, voracious reader, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, English degree holder, and lover of cookies. You can get science fiction and fantasy booklists, news, author profiles, and more on her blog ConquerBooks.com. Check out her BookTube channel for reviews of the latest SFF books and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for kicks and giggles.

Rebecca’s Links

Confessions of a Chronic Underwriter

Be honest with me: How many of you thought I put the word “underwear” instead of “underwriter” in the title? I won’t blame you one bit! But the title is completely, utterly, unequivocally true. About two years ago my uncle, who’s a published children’s author, picked up on it when he read through one of my very early drafts for a shelved projected titled For One Night at the Winter Garden. “Your sentences are too long,” he said. “Does that detail really need to be in there?”

He didn’t use the words “you’re an underwriter,” but he recognized the signs that I was trying too hard.

When you try too hard, you put more detail (whether by choice or subconsciously) into a scene where it’s not needed. It often shows up in the form of sharing too much backstory or sharing, say, historical details out of context (if you’re writing historical fiction, that is!). Personally, it was overcompensation because I hadn’t fully developed any of my characters. For One Night was all scene and setting driven rather than main character centered.

I’m grateful for For One Night. Not only did it teach me when and where to include details, the project also showed me two years ago that I wasn’t ready to take on Project Firedamp. I needed to be patient with myself. So I blogged, researched my novel’s era and read UP on craft. My chronic underwriting is still there, but I’m more aware of the choices a writer’s mind needs to make because I focused on what needed to be fixed within myself.

WRITE TIP: Is there something keeping you from being the best writer you can be? What is it? Is it something your beta readers have pointed out in their notes for you? Don’t be afraid to take a hard look inside and the TIME to fix it. Life is a never ending learning journey. Be patient with yourself and don’t be tempted by shortcuts.

Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.

John Quincy Adams