Tag Archives: Online

Blog Re-Think

For nearly 10 years I’ve ensured that (nearly) every Sunday there is a post here. In recent years I’ve thought that the blog medium was dying and I wondered if there was any reason to keep it going?

I think there is a place for it, but perhaps not how I’m using it. A blog is a great space to share ideas that do not fit into just 280 characters. Social media is now the place for sharing short observation and high-level ideas, not to mention koala photos.

So from now on I’ll only post a blog entry when I’ve got something to share; good news, bad news, or something I really want to talk about in more space that a tweet will give me. And who knows, I may end up missing it and coming back just as regularly.

In the meantime, you can follow me on Twitter @nataliejepotts – I do have other social media accounts, but I’ll probably be posting here more than I do there.

Blog Break

Yes, I know I’ve taken a few of these recently, but this time I’m going to have a think about what I want to get out of this blog. When I started it (nearly 10 years ago) there was no such thing as Twitter or Instagram. I’m not even sure if Facebook was out yet, and if it was, it was still something you only shared with friends.

In 2010 when I was blogging I was also regularly reading other people’s blogs. Not so much now. With all the different feeds of information these days, I struggle to keep up with the blogs I used to follow. There is only so much time in the day.

Likewise, I used to enjoy a bit of discourse with strangers; commenting on each other’s blogs and referencing the posts we had enjoyed. I now do all that with Twitter and the only regular contact I have on the blog is with spammers. I must confess some of their comments are amusing and I would love to turn them into a story, but that’s not enough to keep me going.

So I’m going to take June off and consider if I want to attempt a JulNoWriMo to kick-start me back into the world of fiction.

I will be back, but it may only be briefly to say my goodbyes, or it might be haphazard, only when I have something to say. In the meantime you can find me on:

Twitter @nataliejepotts
Instagram @nataliejepotts

Please say hello if you do find me there.

Digital holiday

Reading between the lines you might be able to tell from more recent posts that I’m getting a bit fed up with the online world. Recent events have only heightened my frustration with the different apps that I feel obliged to be a part of. Recently I’ve slackened off on my social media, and I haven’t missed it at all.

The whole reason I have so many accounts is because at writing conventions and talks everyone stresses how important it is to have an online presence. But if you stop and think about it, until you have a book to promote, what is the point in working on accruing so many followers when there is nothing much for them to actually read?

To me, social media accounts feel like an insecure and needy friend. When you get caught up in other things (you know, silly stuff like writing new stories) then your followers leave you in droves as if you have done something wrong. It seems that months of nurturing these accounts can come undone by a single busy week.

Well I’m going to test it out. I think I’m a more productive writer when I’m not spending so much time on all the online things. So, I’m giving myself a month off of all my digital obligations, and that includes this blog.

I have a project I want to throw myself into, so I’ll focus all my attention on that and keep my internet turned off. I suspect I’m going to feel happier and more relaxed, so if that is the case, I may look at doing something more permanent.

Either way, I will report back in at the end of May and let you know how I go. Try not to forget me! 😊

Top 10 Writer things to do – get an online presence

I did think about not putting this one in. I have to be honest, I’m struggling with the whole online presence thing at the moment and am starting to question how much value there is in it. But if you do get published, it makes sense to make it as easy as possible for people to find more of your writing if they go looking for it. That means being online.

After seven years of blogging, I wouldn’t sing the praises of doing that, besides which, I’ve heard that blogging is so ‘naughties anyway. I know that kind of begs the question about why I am here now, well… I’m very pig-headed and when I start something I struggle to let it go. I also find the weekly blog is good for my discipline.

Nearly all writers have at least two social media accounts; twitter/Facebook/Instagram/stuff I’m too old to know about, but I also think that going the whole hog and setting up a website is worth the effort. Even if you don’t get many hits for the first few months (years/decades) it is the place that someone who finds a short story of yours will invariably end up if they like your writing. This gives you an opportunity to let readers know a little bit about you, provide links to more of your writing, and even give you a place to publish stories.

As for using social media, I would encourage you to set up a writing-specific account/page. Look into the rules for the app in question, because some do not allow for multiple accounts for one person and if you do it they can shut you down. In those cases, set up a sub-page or something that is just for writing info. You need somewhere that you share just with your friends for when you want to do your Trump rants after a few too many red wines, that somewhere is NOT your writing account.

Finally, set guidelines for how much time you are going to spend on this side of your writing career. Particularly when you are not making money from your writing it is easy to burn hours chasing a few more followers which really won’t translate into much value compared to if you spent that time creating your next story. There is no point having writer presence online if it means you stop writing!

Find me at:

Twitter: @nataliejepotts (yeah, I know, I should have gone for something much shorter)
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nataliejepotts/
Website:  www.nataliejepotts.com

P.S. I’m no online expert, so please don’t look at my content as an example of what you should do. Think of it more as encouragement to just to do something!

User pays

The other day I did a Google search for something and found my old novel, Paragon, offered for free download. My novel hasn’t been available for purchase for about six years, so I have no idea how long it had been on this site. The reason I took the novel down was because I thought it had too many things that needed fixing, it wasn’t the best it could be. It bugged me that the choice to hold it back had been taken away from me.

It also got me wondering; how have people’s attitudes to other’s hard work gotten so callous that someone would feel justified putting up the work of a (let’s be honest) unheard of author for free? Is what they gain really worth what they take?

I’m against all forms illegal downloading, whether it is books, movies, software, TV shows, music etc. So often I hear people saying things like “Katy Perry is so rich, it doesn’t matter” –but it does matter. Katy Perry, or any other artist/developer are not doing this on their own. They support a whole network of people who depend on sales to make a living. A movie is not made by several actors and a director. There are writers, camera people, caterers, props people, make-up artists, hair stylists etc. It is an industry, and when you steal, you steal from all of them.

But back to my experience… I am not supporting an industry, just me and those closest to me. In over 20 years of sending off my work for publication I’ve earned less than $500. That’s why I’ve still got the day job. There are lots of people like me out there who haven’t yet made it, and if people keep stealing from us, then we’ll never earn enough money to quit the day job so we can keep making the art that others want to steal.

Imagine if Buffy had been downloaded to the point where no networks wanted to buy the ongoing series. We might never have had Firefly, or Serenity, or Cabin in the woods. I do not want to think about a world with no Joss Whedon! Is that the price we want to pay to be able to save a few dollars?

Technical Difficulties

This may be my last post for a while, I’m having some technical difficulties with upgrading my blog platform, and despite downloading everything I’ve been told to download, the screen just hangs when I try to upgrade. It is a little frustrating.

The platform is going to force an upgrade on December 31st but they have warned this could have disastrous consequences for my blog. Unfortunately I have no choice now but to wait and see if this fixes it or kills it.

If you come back here in 2015 and find no new posts, please go to my website where I’ll post an update about my new blog location (if it comes to that): www.nataliejepotts.com

Thank you for stopping by to check out my ramblings over the past year, your comments and support have meant a lot to me. I hope to be back here next year with more exciting publication news, and hopefully my new writing process will also mean I have some more finished pieces to talk about.

So have a safe and wonderful New Year, and I’ll see you again in 2015 – yikes that sounds so futuristic.

No more blogs?

I was watching a show on social media the other day and it said blogs are now passé. A vlog (video log) is still acceptable, but apparently blogs are on their way out. Naturally, this got me thinking about this blog.

When I started blogging I attended social media workshops and researched SEO tips to get the most out of it. I also started my Twitter account and ramped up my Facebook profile to back it up. Social media was going to be the key to my publication success.

I spent hours on my online profile, at least double the time I was spending on my actual writing. As all the articles said it would, I slowly increase my likes, followers and comments. I didn’t finish any stories.

Then I unexpectedly got moved to Adelaide and suddenly my focus changed (briefly) to removalists, breaking leases, finding homes for things etc. My online profile tanked the moment I looked away. In a very short time my three months of hard work disappeared. I got very disheartened and turned my focus back to my writing. I got some stories finished.

But I kept the blog up. Why? Because this blog represents something that I think is very important in writing; dedication. Even when I’m coughing up a lung and producing double my weight in snot I will still make sure I’ve got something to go up on Sunday. So it may have a readership of just six friends, three strangers who happened upon it by accident and a bunch of people who want to sell rip-off handbags, but it is here and that’s what is important to me.

I’m not slagging social media, I know it does work, but for me the commitment and accountability are a bigger appeal, and the blog provides that. Also I have a theory that sitting at my computer also inspires me to finish stories, which is what I think writers are really meant to do.

So for now the blog stays.

Getting into their heads

I’ve just finished reading Kelvin Cruickshank’s autobiography Walking in Light, which (being a big fan of Sensing Murder) I found fascinating. The strange thing is, I cannot shake the feeling that I’ve gotten to know Kelvin by reading it. I feel like I should say hi if we were to bump into each other on the street –which seems to me to be just a little bit crazy.

That’s when I realised the real difference between an autobiography and a biography. When someone else is telling the story the belief systems and/or prejudices of the author (which will always come through) have no real bearing on your feelings toward the subject.

Yet when you read an autobiography everything said, even the phrases used to say things are all from the subject (Kelvin regularly uses the word ‘choice’ which took me straight back to my youth in the 80’s and always made me smile). It is more like sitting down for coffee with someone who just opens up and lets it all flow out.

To be honest it feels a little bit strange.

It reminds me of how I felt when talking to an author at World Con last year and I made a comment about the beautiful view near her house. Now yes on first pass it sounds like I’m a stalker, but the fact is I enjoy reading her books, so I started reading her blog and she keeps posting pictures of these amazing views from her house. But the creeped out look she gave me made me wonder who she was actually writing these blog entries for?

Which obviously begs the next big question; who am I writing this blog for? Perhaps a post for another day…

Cut backs

I don’t know if anyone noticed, but I didn’t post on Wednesday. I’d like to say it was a planned thing, but the truth was I was so sick that after I had crawled over to the wall to turn the power on to the modem, I lay down, exhausted, and fell asleep on the floor. More accurately, a step. The poor cat thought I was dead.

Anyway, today there is no hint of my malaise of mid-week, but my missed post did get me thinking. My online presence is important to me, and I really do value being a part of the community, but my offline writing is, was and always will be paramount. So I’m axing the Wednesday post in favour of Wednesday writing. The slot is nicely booked out in my calendar for the rest of the year already, so I will just change its use.

That will also allow me to do random koala and pet photo posts any time outside of standard post time, instead of waiting for Wednesday. And an update; I am still working on the cat photos for those who asked, hope to have something soon.

I’m also going to change the nature of my blog a little. I’m going to cut back on the advice –after all, what can I claim to know about writing? Perhaps when I’ve got my third novel out or my Pulitzer, then I might have something worth listening to, but until then I’m just going to share what I can claim to know well; the struggles of a writer trying to get her work out into the world.

So thank you for your support so far, and I look forward to sharing a lot more of my journey with you in the coming months!

Suburban Cowboys

Suburban Cowboys by Natalie J E Potts
Well I pulled my finger out and finally loaded up Suburban Cowboys, my short horror story which was originally printed in Midnight Echo #1 (the Australian Horror Writers Association magazine) in 2008.

This story was inspired by all my drives between Hawthorn and Hampton where my poor little Lancer had to rough it with all the Toorak tractors. One day the fighting with the four-wheel drives just got to me so much that this story spilled out in its entirety the moment I got home.

I do need to warn you there is adult content insomuch as there are graphic concepts, but there is not really any guts and gore (but don’t let the absence turn you off).

At the moment (due to the way the sites are set up) you can only get it for free on Smashwords, but it is available at Amazon for the princely sum of $0.99, or you can wait about a month and then they will (hopefully) move it over to the free catalogue.

Thank you very much to those who gave me feedback about the cover, it was almost a fifty/fifty split, so I went with the all blue, but I might re-vamp it to dual-tone when it gets onto the free list.

Happy reading,