Introducing a New Blog Series

As I’ve mentioned before, things are changing here on anotherhartmanauthor. Blog series have finished, so it’s time to begin a few new ones and see how they go. Today’s short little ditty is all about the next idea: My Last Five Books.

I’m still figuring out how I’m going to do my book reviews, so I thought why not do dedicated-to-one-book posts, as well as highlight the last five books I read in a “speed review” type post? That way, yinz can see just how many books I’ve been reading, as well as all the genres I’m reading in one place, once a month.

My Last Five Books will, of course, be different from the On My Bookshelf pages. Those are just running lists of what I’ve read throughout the year. While it’s certainly been fun maintaining that section, I have to reevaluate that as well. Though it has helped me to not buy the same books over and over again…hm…

Moving on:

So I hope yinz like this new idea. Current problem: I started building the first post and I’ve read at least six more books since opening that draft. Heck, it’s only June and I’ve already read 90/100 books (and then some). Keep your eyes peeled for the first My Last Five Books coming within the next few weeks!


Thoughts On Accepting Change

Do you easily accept change, or are you one of those folks who resist it until you absolutely have to accept it? Personally, I fall somewhere in between. When it comes to my work life, I’m not always fond of policy or procedural changes. When it comes to my writing or personal life, I can go either way. So, naturally, when I decided to put writing on hold, my brain wanted to give me all the new ideas. Isn’t that how it always happens? Just when I thought I’d accepted this change, and began implementing them here on this website, I began second guessing it all. That is something I’ve done my entire life: second guess. I have some inkling as to why I am the way I am, but that’s a blog post for another day.

For years I’ve tried to write. Any time a new idea came up, I’d throw myself into research, learning more about the process, and would follow more of those in the publishing industry. Then, as soon as I’d sit down to actually do work on the project itself, procrastination would take over. The thing is, I want to change. I’m just not certain if I’m disciplined enough to do so. I know exactly how I earned the reputation of “Leigh never finishes anything” in my family. I just want to break the cycle. I’m going on 36 years old. Why haven’t I broken my cycle yet?

It boils down to one word: fear. Fear of failing again. Fear of not living up to my own self-set expectations. Fear that no one would read what I write. Fear of failing before I even start. Fear of the knowledge that I’m not the only one who’s also trying to make it in the publishing industry. Fear.

I think that’s the biggest reason of all that I decided to put my pens and notebooks in a drawer. Not only that, but I’ve always had trouble getting past my initial story ideas. For me, the struggle is real. I absolutely adore the nitty gritty parts of the writing process. So much so that I often wonder if there’s a job like that out there somewhere. A writer’s assistant? Not in terms of answering phones or putting out press releases. But someone who loves the practical side of writing. Okay, so I know I’m not making much sense here. Or am I? I dunno.

In any case, I’m slowly coming to terms with the changes I’ve decided to make in my own life. “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” they say. What about a 35 year old looking to reset her involvement in the great big writing and publishing communities? Have you any thoughts on fear, publishing, and resetting life goals? I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments below.


It’s Time To Bare My Soul

Let’s begin this post with this: I haven’t written a single thing in weeks. Literal weeks. Can I even still call myself a writer at this point if that’s the case?

I don’t want to call it procrastination. I can’t call it burnout either.

I suppose the full purpose of this particular blog post is to ask: am I alone in this?

It’s not yet June and I’ve already read 83/100 books this year. Yay?
It’s not yet June and I haven’t even scratched the surface of my WIP.
It’s not yet June and I don’t know if any of my efforts from the last five years will ever amount to something.

Am I alone in this?

I see Twitter acquaintances come and go as they further, or give up on, their publication journeys. I don’t branch out – I’ve found Twitter to be an exceedingly toxic place as of late. And all that “noise” has turned me into someone I don’t know anymore.

So many arguments over “the best way to be published.”
So many disagreements and “calling outs” for seemingly mundane things.

I’m not sure if I can continue on this journey.

I normally wouldn’t make a post about this, preferring to be uplifting for other folks. But every time I open my WIP, it doesn’t happen. Every time I go to blog something I thought would be a great new addition to this site, I sit on it for days, or weeks, at a time.

Again I ask, am I alone in this?

Last year was the most productive I’ve ever been. I don’t know why I feel moreso under pressure than when I’m calm.

I know I’m probably reaching, asking for any input you may have, but if you’ve the time, I’d love to have a discussion on this in the comments below. There’s something keeping me from continuing on with whatever direction this writing thing will take me and I just don’t know what it is…


Burnout // It’s Real, Y’all

Online content moves at a pace akin to Star Trek’s “warp speed,” and probably even faster than that. That’s what content posting was like on this website for several months. Until it stopped cold. Today’s post is all about why that happened.

Just as with any creative outlet, blogging is its own beast. Any content creator can experience burnout (or insert-here-whatever-adjective-you’d-like-to-use to describe such a thing here), and that’s precisely what hit me a few weeks ago.

I was utterly, completely, equivalently burnt out. I saw the return – you guys really liked my voice! – and that encouraged me to compose several posts a week. Not only that, but I could barely keep up with all the random topic ideas which would crop up in the middle of the night.

My heart, however, just wasn’t in it this month. Every time I sat down to write something, anything, for this site, I’d move it to the trash bin a day later. Was I done blogging for good? Don’t get me wrong – I still love creating content!

We humans love to see things happen in real time. And it’s super satisfying watching stats, seeing the clicks and knowing I’ve somehow contributed something of value to our writing and reading communities.

However, at what point does that become selfish motivation? That, my friends, is the biggest reason I took some time for reflection. There’s no way I’ll ever win accolades with the writing presented on this forum.

Sure, it would be exciting to be featured in a NYT post, or a magazine, or on someone else’s blog. Let’s face the facts: I’m not even published yet. And that’s the second reason I took time off. I’m never going to finish any novel if all I’m doing is pumping out three blog posts a week every week.

And finally, here’s the third reason I haven’t blogged this month: I’ve found myself changing on the inside. I’m not the same person I was six months ago. I no longer love Star Trek (so, while I’m proud of the ones I’ve written, I’ll not be adding any more to that topic), I’m no longer enamored with k-pop, and I’m exploring who I am as an adult.

What do I want? Is this really how I want to live the rest of my life? How do I live more like Jesus taught us? (and I’ve never, ever said something like that in a blog post before). How do I show that love to others? How can I live it both online and at my full time job?

I suppose it wasn’t exactly burn out with JUST the blog. I burned out with life. And how I’ve been living up to this point. What does this mean for the future of this site?

It means things will slow down.
It means things will be done in a (hopefully) more thoughtful manner.
It means I’m reassessing my own writing and what I want to accomplish.

As in actually accomplish.

Not just wishfully accomplishing in my mind.

YES – blogging will still happen! YES – writing will still happen! YES – author interviews will still happen! However different it may be, I hope you’ll stick around.

Have a fantastic upcoming weekend, everyone. Please don’t be afraid to leave a comment. I could really use the encouragement.


Why Maintaining a Website is Worth the Effort

Guess what? It’s a new year. Loosen up, give yourself a break, and recognize that you’re totally worth it. Not just as a person, but as an individual entity within the great big writing community. Whatever it is you’re doing – editing, mentoring, writing, publicizing, agenting, etc. – do it to the best of your ability, improve daily, and keep going!

With all those jobs come prioritization. Did you lose your focus in 2020? Don’t worry; I did too. It’s still just January. You’ve got twelve months to get back on track with whatever it is you’re working on. Okay. Now that all that’s out of my system, here’s another pep talk.

Maintaining a website is totally worth the effort. Would I lie to you? Never!

I’ve found some fantastic writing acquaintances and friends the past few years through their websites. Some found me through mine. But it wasn’t always that way. Just look at the stats from the early days of anotherhartmanauthor.com and you’ll see what I mean:

In 2016, 98 folks stopped by. Of course, in 2016 I’d just launched this site, and in late October or November. So that makes sense. If you want to read a perfectly lame first blog post, here’s the link. (Ugh; I cringe!)

In 2017, I didn’t know what to do with this platform. I was still finding my niche, my people, my footing. 2017 saw 163 visitors as a whole.

Things started to change in 2018. I grew more confident in my blogging abilities and connected with more individuals through social media. As a result, 288 fine folks stopped by to read what I had to say.

2019 exploded with 954 readers. That’s the year I began doing the Five Question Interviews, and I’m forever grateful for those individuals willing to give my little site a chance. Finally, 2020 ended with a bang: a whopping 1,697 of you read my website! I touched upon this a bit in my 2020 Stats blog post, but I still can’t get over that. Thank you all so much for making 2020 my best blogging year yet.

So, as you can see, it takes loads of time for things to happen. Okay, some folks seem to gain instant success, but I’m not one of those. All this to say, I’d like to share some things I’ve learned over the years. Also included at the end will be some links to blog posts past of a more practical nature.

Five reasons why maintaining a website
is totally worth the effort.

1. It’s a great way to learn from others.
While blogging is a very visual and immediate way to showcase your own abilities, there’s a whole lot you can learn from other bloggers as well. There are countless treasure troves out there waiting for you discover them. The first experience I ever had with a website like this is KM Weiland’s Helping Writers Become Authors. I may have mentioned that particular link on more than one occasion, but it truly is a gem of a site, full of loads of practical information for folks at any point of their writing journey.

My site – this site – originally began as a place to share historical facts I learned throughout my own writing process. Looks like I’ve deviated from that first mission, but I hope to bring back historical information sharing in 2021. Especially since I’ve got three very different manuscript ideas running around in my head.

What do you know? Do you have experiences to share? Poetry? Specific histories? What’s something that brings you so much joy that you want to share it with others?

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”

Benjamin Franklin, source

2. Exposure, exposure, exposure.
Admit it. As a writer/author/editor/etc., you want to get your name out there, right? Blogging is akin to networking in the business world, but within the writing community niche. In a recent blog post, I discuss a Social Media Conundrum I’m still thinking about. Without platforms, how does a modern creative sell or showcase their work?

This is where the problems can begin. Unless you’re the most self-disciplined individual on the face of the earth, how does one balance blogging, social media, and work? Everyone procrastinates to some degree. That’s why, in my writing goals post for 2021, I decided it’s time to set aside actual writing time. I don’t know if I’ll be able to also schedule social media time, but I’ve got a whole new year to figure that one out too.

It all boils down to this: how much time are you willing to spend networking? Which is a higher priority: building a platform or working on your craft? It is possible to do both. I, personally, just need more discipline to do it….

“The currency of real networking is not greed but generosity.”

Keith Ferrazzi, source

3. You’ll gain practical online experience and grow skills you already have.
“Cancel culture” is a real thing. Definitely not imagined. From JK Rowling to that one editor who suggested authors take out loans to pay for professional editing on their manuscripts, 2020 writing Twitter witnessed the rise and fall of those who expressed controversial views and practices.

Why do I bring this up?

This is where practical online experience and exposure come into play. Not only does this apply to conducting yourself online, but it includes tech skills. Let me tell you, it took me a long time to get used to my host’s interface. It also took a me a while to figure out what templates and themes worked best for this site and so on.

It’s a tall order, this number three. If you spend any time on Twitter or Instagram, you’ve seen every type of user; from the very casual to the ones who clearly spend loads of time on everything they put out. What I enjoy about my time online is every time I put out a new post/page or have a new interaction, I learn something new about myself and the subject matter at hand. Sounds like a win-win to me!

“Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it.”

Samuel Johnson, source

4. It’s a great chance to hone your nonfiction writing skills.
Speaking of practical experience, blogs and websites are also great places to hone your nonfiction writing skills. Let’s face it – as an author, or one working towards publication, you’re going to have to learn how to market yourself.

My one uncle is an actor. I’ve often heard him say, “Oh the things I’ve had to do for money.” Get your mind out of the gutter. He’s not talking about things like OnlyFans n’at! He’s talking about marketing. He hates talking about himself, but had to build a website in order to gain more gigs and showcase what he’s capable of doing.

The same goes for blogging. Whether you want a place to share your knowledge or share your art, you’re going to have to get used to marketing yourself. Heck, when I built this site back in 2016, it took several months to feel comfortable even introducing myself to the online world of writing. But I now look forward to building that next blog post.

Just as with your manuscripts, your blogging style will change with time. In 2017 I put up maybe ten blog posts, and I anguished over each word. My average word count four years ago? Less than 200. Now I’m batting a thousand and am working on efficiency with my words. In my humble opinion, nonfiction is harder to write than fiction.

“I’m open to reading almost anything – fiction, nonfiction, as long as I know from the first sentence or two this is a voice I want to listen to for a good long while. It has much to do with imagery and language, a particular perspective, the assured knowledge of the particular universe the writer has created.”

Amy Tan, source

5. Because you’re totally worth it.
Don’t you dare sell yourself short. I don’t think much else needs to be said about this particular point. Seriously – you’re totally worth it. Now go, create, and see what maintaining a website could possibly do for you and yours.

“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.”

Lucille Ball, source

Six links to help you get started.


So, what do you think?

Are you ready to get started on a website?

Remember: don’t be discouraged if whatever you create doesn’t immediately take off. Be patient with yourself, others, and stick with what works.

A final tip: you don’t need to own your domain name right away. Don’t let those fancy host sites lead you to believe otherwise. Maintaining a website isn’t easy, and they’re also not for everybody.

But don’t let me discourage you. You’ll never know unless you try. Have fun with it, be true to who you are, and everything else should fall into place.


The Top TenS of 2020 // Stats Edition

It’s Monday, December 28th. Four days from the start of a New Year. Four days until I can start writing “2021” in the date line of my checkbook. I just aged myself with that checkbook line, didn’t I? And four days to wrap things up on this blog for 2020.

It’s the time of year I start looking at the analytics for my website far more closely than any other time. What pages and posts were the most popular? Where do my readers come from? Did the content intrigue anybody enough to leave a comment or two?

This year, instead of looking at just what my most popular posts were (like I did for last year’s version of this post) we’ll take a look at the Top Ten Countries, Top Ten Referrers and then the Top Ten Blog Posts and Pages.

Top Ten Countries

This list is always exciting to look at because it changes every year. Because of my geography, and the fact that my only language is English, visitors from the top four countries make the most sense. I am, however, always positively thrilled when someone visits my site from South Korea or Japan. Here are the country lists from 2020 and 2019:

2020
United States 🇺🇸
Canada 🇨🇦
United Kingdom 🇬🇧
Ireland 🇮🇪
Philippines 🇵🇭
China 🇨🇳
India 🇮🇳
Australia 🇦🇺
France 🇫🇷
Croatia 🇭🇷

2019
🇺🇸 United States
🇬🇧 United Kingdom
🇨🇦 Canada
🇮🇪 Ireland
🇦🇺 Australia
🇵🇭 Philippines
🇮🇳 India
🇫🇷 France
🇩🇪 Germany
🇿🇦 South Africa

As expected, the United States, Canada, the UK and Ireland take the top four spots – thank you all so much! And thank you to everyone kind enough to stop by my little corner of the internet. You’ve made this the best year yet for anotherhartmanauthor.com.

Top Ten Referrers

Now that we know what countries you all come from the most, let’s take a look at how you found me. These also varied greatly from 2019 to 2020, and it’s really making me think twice about completely abandoning Twitter; a decision I’d made in this recent blog post. Here are the top ten referrers for 2020 and 2019:

2020
Twitter
Google Search
Baidu
Bing
Facebook
WordPress Reader
Instagram
raedvdr.wordpress.com
ecosia
YouTube

2019
Twitter
Facebook
Google Search
Baidu
Yahoo
WordPress Reader
Instagram
en.gravatar.com
Juno webmail
linktree

Top Ten Posts & Pages

Here’s the fun part of today’s post – looking at what drew you guys here in the first place! I know this isn’t the most exciting blog post ever, but it just shows what of hard work and a little bit of patience can accomplish. If you’re just starting out in the blog-o-sphere, don’t fret! Give yourself time. Build an audience. Make friends. Learn what works best for your site, and run with it. Here’s what attracted you to anotherhartmanauthor.com in 2020 and 2019:

I think the data speaks for itself: looks like I’m doing the Five Question Interview series once again in 2021!

Do you want to blog but
you’re not sure how to get started?

Throughout 2019, along with a couple posts thereafter, I share my experiences with blogging and figuring out what worked and what didn’t. Here are five blog posts to help you get started in 2021!

  1. Why Now is A Great Time To Start A Blog
  2. Three Blog Ideas That Worked
  3. Three Blog Ideas That Failed
  4. A Beginner’s Guide to Creating Graphics in Seven Easy Steps
  5. How to Maintain a Writer’s Website
  6. Useful Tools and Tags

Think of blogging this way: if I can do it, anybody can do it. Even you! I was incredibly nervous the first few times I put up blog posts, but eventually it became second nature. Now, I can’t stop blogging! Find what works for you and, as mentioned earlier, run with it. Find your niche and what you love to write about it. And one day you’ll have your own top ten lists as well.


18 Links: Revisited // The Ones I Actually Use

Two years have passed since I first put up a post titled 18 Links Any Writer Can Use. Since then, I’ve streamlined my writing process, the links I actually use on a daily or weekly basis, and decided it was time to update that old list. To quote the original post:

With so many voices giving advice (both good and bad),
how do you even begin to choose what’s right for you?

In this 2020 update I’ll share what thoughts I remember from 2018 and why I included it. Keep reading to find out which links withstood the test of time.

85 Hashtags Writers Need to Know | Amanda Patterson

2018: Then I had no idea what social media hashtags were popular in the #writingcommunity. This list looked to be the less intimidating of what I found to share. I didn’t need a 250 point list. Or a 120. Or, or or or or. Eighty-five seemed like a great, low number with just the right variety to get started.

2020: Now I use only a select few. The world of hashtags is its own beast and, unless you’re willing to read through all those threads, those hours online could be better used outlining or working on your manuscript. Find the two or three or four – ones that fit your genre, or ones that truly connect you to others in your field – and stick with them. You can, of course, switch it up.

Do I still use this link? No.

100 Best Websites for Writers in 2018

2018: Then: a confession. I used this link a LOT to compare my site to those most popular. I used to agonize over design, usefulness, the quality of their short stories, and the fact they had published books. It took a while to realize: that’s not what this list is supposed to be used for.

2020: Now, I look at these lists for inspiration and connection to authors and writers I otherwise may have never known. Instead of measuring up my own self worth against those who’ve worked diligently and far longer than I on their writing careers, it’s now a dream. Let’s face it – I’ve got a long way to go!

Do I still use this link? Yes.
But the 2020 version.

Allegheny County Library Association Card Catalog

2018: Then: I used this website a LOT throughout my early research stage. As I didn’t truly know where to begin, it was in 2018 I discovered the term “research rabbit hole,” and my local librarians were more than happy to oblige.

2020: Nowadays I utilize the Library of Congress’ “Ask A Librarian” link. This is mostly due to issues with my car (I don’t trust it to get me that far) and the fact that my library was closed for four months due to the pandemic. While Northland does have an entire row dedicated to Southwest Pennsylvanian history, the information I needed later on in my research journey became increasingly specific.

I’m not saying your local online card catalog isn’t worth it. If you dig deep enough, other equally fantastic resources are most certainly out there.

Do I still use this link? No.

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Oliver Room

“Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh holds many rare and unique collections of historical importance, especially those that illuminate the rich cultural heritage of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania. These historical collections are held at the Main Library in Oakland, as well as in neighborhood libraries throughout the City of Pittsburgh.”

Source – CLP website

2018: One of Andrew Carnegie’s philanthropic goals was to make resources available to the American public. As a result, Pittsburgh has its Oliver Room. I had every intention to make an appointment to visit this special place.

2020: However, as life would have it, I completely forgot about the Oliver Room. I still think it’s a fantastic thing to have resources such as this. It’s always worth it taking a look into your own town’s or city’s historical archives. Do I still hope to visit for a future project? You bet!

Do I still use this link? No.

The Editor’s Blog: How to Format Your Manuscript

2018: Then, when I shared this in 2018, it was already out of date as it was posted in 2011. This is still a useful guide, but if you’re in the submission phase to agents or publishers, keep in mind that each one may have their own requirements for manuscript formatting.

2020: Now, as I’m nowhere near that dreaded querying stage, I ignore everything but the basics for formatting.

Do I still use this link? No.
Instead, I use this link. I don’t know when it was put up,
but I have to believe it was within the last two years.

Grammar Girl

2018: Then, I thought I was going to use this site so, so much. As it turns out, I prefer physical books for my non-fiction over electronic resources. Ones I own. Ones I can highlight and put post it notes all over.

2020: Now, as I get easily overwhelmed when I read informational blogs, I don’t visit as much as I used to. Mignon Fogarty’s mind still fascinates me with how many useful podcasts and tweets she puts out. So go check her website out if you’ve got any grammar-related questions.

Do I still use this link? No.
I do still follow her Twitter account here.
And now I’m questioning the validity of my own grammar in this blog post….

Heinz History Center

“The Heinz History Center is more than just one building. Part of The Smithsonian network, its main focus is Southwestern Pennsylvania.”

2018: Then, all I had to say about this history center was what’s above. In actuality, I only included it because I hoped to utilize its resources. I never did.

2020: Now? I still haven’t used it. Including the link in the original post was part of a grand research project I wanted to do. That project no longer exists.

Do I still use this link? No.

Historic Pittsburgh

2018: Then, my exact words were “Tired of seeing Pittsburgh themed links? I promise, I’m nearly done highlighting my city! […] The fact that there’s so many organizations dedicated to preserving its history, with so many people interested in its history, should come of no surprise as to why my first novel series will include it.”

2020: Now, after many many many revisions, I don’t know how it would work. What I wrote following the aforementioned statement is still true: “Historic Pittsburgh is supported by The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Chatham University Archives and many others to pool resources for research and preservation. Everyone sees history through different eyes, so it’s a good thing that there’s more than one organization preserving our past. Check with your local city to see if they have sources you may not have thought of.”

Do I still use this link? No, but I wonder: would it be a great tool for my grandma’s ancestry research?

Janice Hardy | Fiction University | Critique Groups

2018: Then, my introverted self would never even have considered joining a critique group.

2020: My still introverted self has yet to join. I’m also still far from any sort of critique stage (and I shelved that 2018 novella), but I do peruse the articles from time to time. I also wonder if I’ll ever be brave enough to join up. Directly from Ms. Hardy herself,

“This is for writers who are looking for critique partners or critique groups for more than just “I need some eyes on this before I submit it to an agent” type critiques.”

Do I still use this link? Yes.

Library of Congress Ask A Librarian

2018: In 2018 I’d no idea how valuable a resource this would become…

2020: …and now? I send them questions and topics I need assistance with several times a month! Their staff is fantastically thorough and I cannot recommend them enough.

Also, as I was unable to visit my local library earlier this year, I was still able to send Ask A Librarian questions save for a short period when they were closed as well.

Do I still use this link? Absolutely! One caveat: if the government’s shut down, this resource will be unavailable for the duration of that shut down.

LitRejections

2018: Back then I’d no idea how publishing works. I only knew of this phrase, “my query received another rejection,” and didn’t even know what a query was.

2020: Today I’m a bit more versed in *some* of publishing’s inner workings (the unagented, unpublished side of it), and learned it’s best to encourage other writers/authors than think of them as your competition. But that’s a blog post for another day.

“LitRejections was founded with the sole purpose of encouraging writers as they go through the rigorous process of becoming a published author. They offer several types of critiques, links to agencies in particular countries, interviews with folks deep within the writing industry and encouragement through their social media.”

Do I still use this link? No, but most definitely will when I hop into the dreaded “query trenches!”

The No. 1 Rule for Flashbacks in a Story Opening

2018: Back in 2018 I wrote: “Flashbacks. When done well they can provide important insight into a character’s motives or actions. They also run the risk of providing far more backstory than what the reader truly needs to know. It’s a tricky business, deciding to add a flashback, dream sequence or something equally vague at the beginning of a story. Contributor Peter Selgin takes us through several scenarios on what to include and what not to include. And when. A very useful post indeed.”

2020: Nowadays I barely write flashback scenes. It’s not that I find them completely unnecessary. It’s because flashback scenes scare me. What tense should they be written in? Should I introduce a new character within the flashback? Is the flashback actually necessary? Any time I find myself thinking about adding one, I revisit this link.

Do I still use this link? Yes, especially if I need a refresher.

Most Common Writing Mistakes: Characters Who Lack Solid Story Goals

2018: Back then Miss KM Weiland appeared a lot on this site. She was one of the first folks I connected with when I revamped my Twitter account.

2020: Now I don’t remember if I bought her books on writing first, or communicated through DMs first. However it happened, I’m glad to have found her site. Her posts, like the one above, are some of the best I’ve found. And it doesn’t matter if you’re brand new or if you’ve been “in the biz” for a long time. There’s certainly something there for everyone.

Do I still use this link? Yes.

The Past Tense in English

2018: It was in 2018 I realized I needed to go back to school. Back to my high school English classes and revisit my language’s confounding grammar rules. Here’s a cold hard truth: I’m not the only one who struggled with it. My troubles were quite evident to my beta readers who didn’t know what they were in for when they agreed to read early versions of FOR ONE NIGHT (my now-shelved novella).

2020: Two years later I’d like to think I’ve improved. No one’s seen my writing since then (save these blog posts). I guess I’ll find out when I begin a search for my next group of betas. Remember: It’s okay to not know everything about writing. It’s a whole beast on its own!

Do I still use this link? Yes.

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Archives
Query Tracker
What Kind of Author Are You?
All three of these are no’s.


Whew! What a list! As with anything subject to the passage of time, I think it’s safe to say I’ve outgrown this list.

Perhaps a future post will contain new, more current resources? Tip: Find that perfect combination of resources which fit your needs and run with them.


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!


How Removing One Villain Solved Everything

I’m one of those people who learn lessons the hard way. It’s a stubborn streak I inherited from three of my grandparents. As much as I love them – thanks guys. Some cycles are harder to break than others. This can be applied to characters you create for stories as well. You fall in love with them, paint them in your mind, and think about them as you work your 9 to 5 job or cook dinner for the kids. But what happens when a character says goodbye? Not you. The character.

Work on THE FIREDAMP CHRONICLES began nearly four years ago. I thought this particular character was, well, brilliant. His storied, embattled past, who his ancestors were and mannerisms. Little did I know my most thought-about character held back the entire story. My own personal villain.

I cried. Literally, not figuratively. I’ve got the “receipts” to prove it. Please excuse the typos – I’m only human!

Emotion is something I don’t oft post online in any manner. However, November 19th, 2019 called for it. I didn’t realize, until today, just how much he was holding everything back. I suppose that’s the very definition of a villain, isn’t it? They’re nefarious, whisper self doubt in your ear, and can be quite ridiculous in the things they choose to latch on to. For years he had me wound so tightly ‘round his finger I couldn’t see potential in other’s stories. So I’ll end this post on a high note. Here’s an embed of the pros of leaving my original villain behind. And maybe, just maybe, he’ll make an appearance in future stories!