Bay Area children's book authors Lynn E. Hazen and Susan Taylor Brown have their hands full. Between the two of them, they gather no less than 30 online presences. They are, like, crazy connected writers - which was the point of the drive to St Paul's Episcopal Church in Walnut Creek today. The message is clear: writers cannot just write, illustrators cannot just illustrate. They have to get online big time.
You thought a tweet and a Facebook wall were enough in your life besides your Linkedin profile, your IM and your Sunday afternoon blog? Not so.
Lynn and Susan told a crowd of writers and illustrators the ins and outs of (children's) literature-specific web tools such as BookTour, Children's Literature Network, Filedbyauthor, GoodReads, or JacketFlap. The idea, if I understand correctly, is to do the job a good PR person would do for you: get your work out there, promote yourself.
Some websites I knew, others I sure did not suspect, but now I'm looking at the list and pondering, "Hmmm, where do I get started?" My neighbors' consensus seemed to be the blog, the Web 2.0 interactive ever-ecolving gadget for the tech-challenged (cuz you don't even need to know the dreaded html to publish on a Blogger or LiveJournal pre-formatted blog).
OK for the blog, but what about? Apparently I was not the only one to wonder what to write in my blog. During the break, I was very happy to find Eve Aldridge, a fantastic woman I met at the New York Conference in January.
She was the person whose last name I could not remember and ordered a classic cocktail with Tara Callahan King and myself at The Campbell Apartment.
It was a great surprise to see her there, together with illustrators Kieren Dutcher, author Deborah Davis and another woman whose name I'll provide once she writes me an email. They were all wondering what to write about on a blog.
I mean, it's fine to write, but write about the writing process? What if you are an illustrator and don't produce an illustration a week? Blogging less than once a week is on the verge of lame these days. Take two writers blogs as examples and let's analyze the contents.
Lynn Hazen's Imaginary Blog is not so much about the writing process as about her published books, author appearances and media she appears in. As I'm not published in the field yet, I can scrap that angle. However once I am, Lynn's blog is a fun way to go about it.
Susan Taylor Brown's Susan Writes blog is closer to my idea of a blog on writing. It can be anything that catches her attention and writer's eye.
On that basis, I could write that I only take the time to revise my stories one evening on the night before my critique group, which means that I only work on my children's book manuscripts every other week. Not much of a practice, is it?
The rest of the time, I turn the words and the characters around in my head. Sometimes, they wake me up in the middle of the night.
"Hey, how about this instead of that?"
"Thanks, I was sleeping."
"Hey, don't go back to sleep. We just had a better idea."
"Quiet up there!"
It can go on for hours. Things slowly mature in my head and on D-day minus 1, I get on my computer and type away.
My critique group partner, Emile Duronslet Jr - who can never leave a pencil and a blank piece of paper alone, as the photo up there shows - writes every day. When he doesn't write, he draws away in his sketch book and creates characters for his stories or imaginary scenes straight out of his imagination.
Different techniques. Different results too. I got to get back to today's notes: where do I find that 25th hour to write on writing?