Brida Anderson

Urban Fantasy

Tag: blogging

Starting over … Blogging humble beginnings

Shooting yourself in the foot, marketing-wise, isn’t exactly a smart idea.

But I bet the bloggers among you know that feeling when you realize that the platform you picked for your (new) blog  just drives you freaking nuts! Or that several blogs converged, stealthily. You started out in two very different places and topics, but now that you’re writing closer to your truth, you ended up with two similar blogs who could happily co-exist in one place.

Photo: Blog by Christian Schnettelker

“Blog” by Christian Schnettelker via Flickr/Creative Commons

I lost my good “web-fairy” two years ago when she got very sick and had her hands full with her young child. Not wanting to add any more pressure on her, I muddled through on my own, building up a website, a blog. I was starting to see a lot of visitors, page views climbed up every time I posted — but the platform was driving me nuts. I couldn’t schedule posts ahead of time. You had to post everything the exact moment you wanted it published! Waah. As a mom with a toddler, that was insane %-)

So I switched to WordPress.com, built up the blog for a second time. I got a lot of likes from fellow WordPressers — who read me through the WordPress app. Which doesn’t count into your stats. Meaning: you’re flying more or less blind because you cannot tell how many people read a post. The stats are quite depressing, especially since this time around, Google seemed to ignore me. Friends said that Google doesn’t like free blogs. Plus the blog was new.

After a few months of that, I was beyond frustrated.

Cue in a visit from my Web-Fairy (like a kind fairy godmother, only much younger and hipper, y’know? ;-) She took pity on me and spent several hours organizing my online-life. We couldn’t get my domain (www.bridaanderson.com) from Weebly, the contract still runs for a while. We couldn’t let the free Brida-wordpress blog point to a new domain.

So I took a deep breath and ordered a second domain,  brida-anderson.com,  and set up a new self-hosted WordPress blog.  From scratch. We also did that for my long-running blog for moms/parents.

In both cases, I could import the blogposts fine but not the images. Gah.

 

For the first time, everything is in one place and I can go happily forward. But … I keep getting messages on Facebook about the free WordPress blog, which I deleted to avoid confusion. People who follow old links get a “This blog doesn’t exist anymore” error. I took part in blog hops — and now all those links back to me get that error message. Ouch.

Such casualties aside, it feels good to be back with a self-hosted blog. And Google is sending me the first searchers, after only a couple of days. Most recently someone looking for a “fantasy mom”. Not sure they were looking for a writer, though ;-)

You know what, I love starting over like this. All casulties aside. When something’s not working on the blogging-side or the reader-side, ditch that platform and find something that’s a pleasure to read and a pleasure to write in. I think it travels over into the blogposts if you enjoy being on that site. So go for it. And ignore your stats — which will start at zero whenever you switch.

My good webfairy and I found a new agreement. She’s feeling better since she started eating Paleo and her son is out of the worst at 4 and a half. (4 … That magic age when you start to hear yourself think again as a mom!) I’ll supply her with books from her Amazon wishlist in exchange for hands-on help with the administration/programming of my websites. A dream came true. I looooove working with Julia again. :-)

Whoops

babydarth_brida_anderson

Geez.

Not amused.

I just saw that now images all over the blog are broken. :-/ I am so sorry if you find me through a post that looks like a wasteland because all the images are gone. (And isn’t it such a sad sight to see that little broken rectangle that signals the loss of a link? I cringe when I see that, even if it’s not on my own blog.)

How that happened …Now that my previous Weebly-site and the free WordPress blog are offline, the links to images on there stopped working.

I’ll go through the blog over the next weeks and will fix all broken images or links. If you come across any that I missed, please tell me. Thank you so much!

In unrelated news: We’re still being kept awake at night by our new fae kitten, Robin.

the only one of about 100 photos where she isn't blurred from action ;-)

the only of about 100 photos where she isn’t blurred from action ;-)

 

She’s probably too young to stay on her own over night — and she makes it known in loud meows. At 3, at 4, at 5:30 … She’s about 9 weeks old now. We’re hoping when she’s older she won’t feel so lonely when we disappear in our bedroom. She’s actually not crying or mewling when we leave for the night. She plays and naps and eats. It’s just in the middle of the night that she seems to realize: Oh man, I’m soooo boooored. We’re adding cat trees and calming scent.

Mom-bloggers and mom-writers unite!

Wow, it’s been crazy here, trying to write on deadline while the kids are on school/nursery vacation.

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It’s the first year of school for our oldest son, so I’m used to a maximum of 3 weeks vacation from his kindergarten days back in Germany. Here in Qatar, he has almost 9 weeks of summer vacation. 9 weeks!

We enrolled our youngest (3) in summer camp at his nursery. Which whittled his 8 weeks of vacation down to 4 weeks …

Whatever possessed me to agree to a deadline for a project that falls into my boys’ vacation? Well. I had planned to be done with the book before vacation even started. While moving thousands of miles abroad … Cough. Still, I almost managed. But that last sprint to the finish line kept eluding me.

So, here we are. 4 weeks of trying to write a nonfiction book and blogposts alongside a constantly prattling 3-year old. Who, of course, has just he entered into the infamous “Why?”-phase.

“Why’s that?”

“But why?”

“And why’s that?”

“Why don’t you know?

“Why …?”

… on and on  ;-) (Do you know the Louis CK sketch about the WHY?)

I’m also entering the last corrections into my Western-Aetherpunk short story … or I would be, if we hadn’t left for vacation. Where we promptly caught a stomach-bug and took turns being sick. (“Why are you holding your stomach, mom?” “Why do you need this bucket?” … LOL)

The crux is: We’re back in Qatar now. Here, it’s too hot, humid and sunny during the day to do anything outside. Even swimming is out of the question. Sunshade over the pool or the playground? That’s for sissies, apparently.

You’d think that the Qataris would have long caught on and built pleasure domes for families. Every bigger city in Germany has those artificial rec spaces, usually with indoor swimming pools, sauna, kid activities. But also with aquariums, Lego Centres, you name it. Here, everything is out under the sun, except for the malls. Weird. No, don’t get me started on the cramped indoor playgrounds in Qatar … I dubbed them Las Vegas for kids. = :-/

So life outside starts at sunset. Going swimming. Going to the playground. (The lights at the playground have been broken for a while. “Don’t hworry mamsir, we fix it.”)

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Playground after dark in Doha, Qatar

And I write during the kids’ afternoon siesta. Or I try to. A day of “why? why? waaaah! want X, want Y! Moooom!” isn’t exactly helping to write with a fresh mind.

It’s been a week only since we got back but we’re running out of indoor-activities that can hold a 3-year-olds attention. It wouldn’t be hard to entertain my 7-year old indoors. He’s fallen in love with crafting, he loves playing boardgames and painting. But the day is loooooooong when matched against a 3-year-old’s attention span and you can’t take him outside.

I tried my NanoWriMo routine of getting up before the kids but that only worked while we were on vacation. In Qatar, our youngest has started waking again in the night repeatedly – from nightmares, the air-condition or the crushing heat. So he ends up staying with us — and gets up with me. “Why are you sneaking off to your computer?”

(On the other hand – who can resist this little guy? :-)

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If you’d like to leave a comment on this blogpost, please leave it on the Facebook page or through Twitter instead. I’d love to talk to you.

tendril_small

brida_anderson_photo_babs_huber_thumb Brida Anderson’s novel, Hedge Games, released in December. You can find her at www.brida-anderson.com, Facebook, and Twitter. She and her family currently live in the Middle East with the newest addition to their household, a fae-cat called Robin.

Blog Hop: Women Writing

Leanne Chapman from Claim Your Treasure asked me to participate in a Blog Hop that features new women writers and celebrates why we are writing. The torch is passed on every week and I feel honored that I can take part.

((I recently moved this blog and the images got shot in the process. Currently working to replace them all.))

I published my first fantasy novel last winter (“Hedge Games”) in a leap of faith, after years of hiding behind my non-fiction writing. The same change takes place in my blogging. I’ve blogged for years about mom-topics, now I am starting to blog about fantasy/fae-topics for my readers.

How the Blog Hop Works

Write a description of yourself as a writer and answer the 3 questions below. Then invite 2-3 other women writers/bloggers to participate.

 

 

A description of me as a writer

Even as a kid, I was already fascinated by fantasy and adventure stories. The stories that capture me most are those that create a breathing, real world and then run with it. I don’t much mind whether that’s paranormal/Urban/elfpunk/Steampunk/pirates … Just give me a world I can jump into along with the characters; make me believe, make me care. Make me smile about dialogue and funny moments. Make me fret by letting the character walk through darkness. Oh, and give me a loveplot. ;-)
That’s what I love to read – and that what I’m striving for in my fiction.
If I had to name common themes, it’d be: Finding magic in the everyday life that surrounds us. Finding out you’re special and there’s a place / a chosen family where you belong after all.

What am I working on/writing?

When our move abroad (to the Middle East) and my kids give me time enough to write, I’m working on the sequel to HEDGE GAMES. Or I’d love to be writing that. Mostly, I’ve been working on non-fiction these past months.

... when all I want to do is return to the forest for book 2 ... :-)

… when all I want to do is return to the forest for book 2 … :-)

 

I just finished a book with selfcare-tips for moms, it will come out in September. Mid-august is the deadline for my next book, my first “Aufsteller”. What do you call these books in English? A spiral bound book that you can prop upright. One side of the displayed page shows a beautiful photo and quote or affirmation. The back of the page gives a weekly instruction. I love these books when they’re nicely done and I’ve always wanted to create a book like that. So I felt very honored and happy when I was asked by Südwest publishing house to create one on the topic of “Finding Peace inside Me”.

I also experiment with different topics for blogging. It’s easiest for me to blog how-to – giving instructions, DIY topics, tips. But I want to branch out from that and share more about fae/fantasy related stuff. I’m collecting shops with elfwear, beautiful fantasy Pinterest boards, … to share on my blog. I’ll also talk more about the backstory to my elfish characters, because that’s what most questions I got from readers were about.

How does my work differ from other writers in my genre?

Since I aim to write what I’d love to read, I’m not really trying to be different from other writers in my genre. :-) But there are, of course, a lot of different styles in Urban / Paranormal Fantasy.

You’ll love what I write if you enjoy fantasy stories with romantic elements that have darkness where necessary, without ever degrading into torture porn (for lack of a different word, I use it here to encompass all sorts of very dark stuff that you can come across in fae books).
Having said that, I think there should be real danger and real struggle and the loveplot shouldn’t be an end in itself but a side product of two interesting characters meeting and battling toward their goals.

Hedge Games Urban Fantasy

Buy on Amazon

One difference could be that I find old legends, especially German ones, about elves and fae folk very fascinating and have read a lot about them. So my elves might be a tad more Germanic / central European than the ones from authors who come from an Anglo-Saxon background.
We’ve travelled in areas in Germany where the hills are considered dragons sleeping, every second village has a name with the old Germanic word for “elf” in it and local people still warn you about the lakes because the White Lady could grab any children and pull them under, replacing them with a changeling. (That this is a warping of Mother Goddess cults in the same areas could be a topic for another time, hm?) I take all these stories and add my own spin and my own ideas.

View of famous Frau Holle Lake in Germany

“Frau Holle Teich” in Germany

Why do I write what I do?

We have a right to — and a need for — fairytales for grown-ups. I can’t thrive if not at least my reading material brings a touch of magic. The magic that adds sparks to our lives can come from actual conjuring, sexy elves, bare-chested highlanders or watching struggling families reconcile and find their Happy-Ever-After in contemporary books.

Next Week’s Blog Hopper

… is Eilish Bouchier of http://eilishbouchier.com. Until her Women Writer’s blogpost is up, read “I do yoga to do life” from her instead. Highly recommended.

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If you’d like to leave a comment on this blogpost, please leave it on the Facebook page or through Twitter instead. I’d love to talk to you.

tendril_small

brida_anderson_photo_babs_huber_thumb Brida Anderson’s novel, Hedge Games, released in December. You can find her at www.brida-anderson.com, Facebook, and Twitter. She and her family currently live in the Middle East with the newest addition to their household, a fae-cat called Robin.

What the heck to actually tell your email list as a writer?

Yesterday, a link floated around Twitter to an article about how to set up emails to your list. The headline leads you to expect tips on composing emails to your list that are a pleasure for your readers. Unfortunately, the post only gives the tech side, how to set up a list with Mailchimp etc.

Again? Yawn!

Thankfully, today another article flew into my inbox, this time from Kimberley at the Writer Platform. She’s a fellow mom and Canadian. Hey, gotta share it, if it’s from a Canadian ;-)

Ideas and Tips on What to Send to Your Subscribers

It’s part of Kimberley’s series on List-building for writers and well worth to check out.

I’m still experimenting with what I talk to you about in the blog. I come from nonfiction blogging and that rears its head every couple of days. I still feel the need to provide you with some instructables, printables … But printable hunk-elves have not been invented yet (more’s the pity), so we might have to settle for vacations of the mind and exploring Faerie instead of cold hard print-outs. ;-)

Lengthy comment? Blog instead

Came across something interesting at WordPress.com – what to do when you feel a lengthy comment on someone else’s blog is needed.
I don’t mind reading long comments if they’re written well and fitting (thematically) the original blogpost.
But when commenting myself, I was always torn between: say what I felt needed to be added OR keeping it brief, as everyone suggests you should do.

Blogging en plein air by Mike Licht via Flickr / Creative Commons

Blogging en plein air by Mike Licht via Flickr / Creative Commons

The WordPress tutorial suggests:

Keep your comment bite-sized. If you have a lot to say on something you’ve read, leave a brief comment, then add a link to a post on your own blog where you’ve replied to or expanded on the topic at hand — it’s a clever way to engage readers who share your interests. If a comment stretches into multiple paragraphs, you’ve probably got a post on your hands.
(source: http://learn.wordpress.com/get-connected. Emphasis mine)

Without this reminder, I wouldn’t have dared to, I think. My impression was: Who am I to not just leave a comment, like everyone else, but to take this blogpost and add my own input/spin?

Since reading the suggestion on WordPress, I’ve talked to some long-time bloggers and felt I’ve grown a bit more comfortable in my blogger boots (I imagine them like worn fae pirate boots ;-).

Lesson learned: Picking up that other blogger’s post (not his post verbatim! just mentioning what got me started and adding a backlink), adding a different thought, discussing it in depth at my own blog, means I’m joining the conversation. Whereas when I add a mile-long comment to another’s blogpost that introduces two new ideas or points worth discussing, I maybe (unintentionally) hijack the the comment-thread. So it’s better to write that post and put the link to it under the original blogger’s post. They assured me it’s easy to tell at one glance who really did read your post and added some original thoughts and who is just trying to get some backlinks to his/her blog.

Much to learn.
What do you think?

Looking for fairy-themed social icons

Hey, I’ve found a niche for graphic designers ;-)

Well, not a well-paying niche, I guess.

I’ve been turning Google search and DeviantArt upside down looking for faerie-themed social media icons for this blog. Without success, so far. Either the links are expired or, usually, the rights are unclear.

What am I looking for?

A hint of elfishness/fae. Nothing too cute (pink fairies? ;-) Glitter) since it’s for Urban Fantasy.

Maybe moss-tones or tree-green, maybe a hint of wing or snaking tendril …

 

This “Green Jelly” icon set is the closest I could find (via DeviantArt):

Green jelly icon set

(No mention of rights, but lots of positive replies on people using them, so I hope it’s okay.)

 

I can’t afford much but I would have paid up to 10$ for a ready-made icon set, provided it includes E-Mail, Pinterest, Twitter, Flickr, RSS, Facebook, Google+

Coming up empty on anything “faerie”-themed, I would have settled for one of the beautiful watercolour-type icon sets in green hues. But either the rights were murky or some icons I needed were missing.

Put up an “ad” in the Facebook Faeries group, maybe they have a link for me. And will trail Etsy for someone offering customization for little money. I’d love to pay more for a graphic designer with nice ideas but as indie-author I’m glad if what I make from my books pays for my coffee … ;-)

If you know of an icon set that might fit this site: I’d love to hear it! :-)

Being sticky – being brave in what you create / write

Kristen Lamb tells writers to “be sticky” if they want people to notice them and their books. Even though “being sticky” comes very naturally to me as a mom of two young children ;- ), in my writing, that’s something else.
There are three areas Kristen urges you to be sticky if you want to succeed at social media (and, alas, a mom-writer’s clothes and hair are not among the three. Rats! ;-).
Two of them are internet-related, the third is our writing itself.

While I dropped my youngest off in kindergarten, I mulled over what I had read in Kristen’s book Rise of the Machines. And realized that this isn’t just something about writers. It applied to the people I ran into as well.
How often do we really stick out our neck? And how often do we take the safe road and blend in? At the cost of being “non-sticky” or almost invisible. Non-memorable.

How about you? When did you learn that talking freely about what you felt was your truth (in any given situation) wasn’t safe? That it got you in hot waters with your teachers, your parents, your first boy-friend, perhaps?

 

Inner warrior Brida Anderson

Your inner warrior is wise and wild / She knows the true shape and names of things / … and just how strong you really are

Before our move abroad, I was talking to a friend I had rediscovered on Facebook. He had last seen me when I was 16, just embarking on a relationship that later turned out to be abusive. When I told him about moving to Qatar for three years, he urged me to not start a one-woman-revolution there. I thought: “What is he talking about? Me? Why should I?”
He remembered me as I had been, at 12-13-14 years old. Running around in my hometown with a bright red cap, dispensing flyers on a busy Saturday about women’s rights. (Pathologically shy me!) Even pressing one into the mayor’s hand with an acidic comment when he came by by chance (I was camped out near the city hall). Sending my poetry to magazines and competitions, totally convinced that it was superb and much-needed. And even getting it published at the tender age of 14. It seemed only natural to me at the time — today, I shake my head how confident I was, how sure that I’d be published.
Then … stuff happened. Life. Boys who punish you for being “all brain” or who seek to hurt you, verbally, physically, when you seem to be too self-confident. After uni, it carried over into my nonfiction writing through my work. (University had taken care of the fiction writing already.) If you talk to other editors and agents all day, get trainings every few months on how to write the perfect fluffy nonfiction book that appeals to everyone and offends no one, it rubs off on you.Now with Kristen’s advice on “writing sticky books” in my ear, I have been quietly exploring for months, how true to my ideas and convictions I dare to be in my nonfiction.
If you write like anybody else and what anyone else could have contributed to a topic, then a reader won’t see that this is you writing to them. And they won’t hear your voice.
Time to put on the red cap and stand up. Become sticky!
((reblogged from my old blog-address at Weebly, hence the wonky formatting))
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If you’d like to leave a comment on this blogpost, please leave it on the Facebook page or through Twitter instead. I’d love to talk to you.

tendril_small

brida_anderson_photo_babs_huber_thumb Brida Anderson’s novel, Hedge Games, released in December. You can find her at www.brida-anderson.com, Facebook, and Twitter. She and her family currently live in the Middle East with the newest addition to their household, a fae-cat called Robin.

Am Writer, will travel …

I am writing this to you from my car. Of course it’s not the first time I’m writing in the car. I love writing while in motion. The vibrations loosen the writing muscles, at least for me. And it’s great against my coffee/food/… procrastination. You know, the “ooops, now my coffee is empty, I should make a new one before I REALLY dive in …” ;-)
What’s truly new for me, here in Doha, is that I can work on my notebook when not at home – and still be online. Here (in Qatar, that is) a mobile card with real flatrate costs about 10 dollars more per month than a “normal” landline phone number plus internet. Which, weirdly enough, would be a tenth of the speed of the mobile internet.
So when my youngest fell asleep on the way home from IKEA
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I made a stopover at home, grabbed our WLAN router (it fits in my palm and runs on batteries), tossed it with my Macbook into the car and took off to my son’s school.
Here we are, parking in the shade. He’s still sleeping.
Outside, it’s an almost balmy 38°C degrees.
To think that when we arrived at the end of January, the 26 degrees here felt like hot summer to us! :-)
We came from 2 degrees Celsius and snow in Germany, all bundled up in our sweaters.
If you ever come here, you’ll see the same scenes: In the long cues for VISA / passport check, you can tell at once who’s a returning resident or from a similar climate — and who are the Northern and Eastern Europeans.
Aussies in sandals and very short shorts are all around you. Men from all over the world in long flowing kaftans and leather sandals. And in the middle, mom, dad, kids with very sensible shoes, often sneakers, pullover, windbreaker jacket from Jack Wolfskin or some other brand.
When I talked to Goronna from Serbia who works as a physio therapist at the W hotel she said about her arrival … Oh, that’ll have to be a story for another time. The school bell just rang with the deafening sound Indian schools are supposedly known for here (the German school inherited a lovely building from an all-girls Indian school, complete with colorful murals that the kids love).

Social Media for Writers

While battling with a stomach bug, over the Christmas holidays I read Kristen Lamb’s two books “We are not alone” (I read the Kindle version) and “Are you there Blog? It’s me, Writer” (Kindle Edition; link to the print version), both on the topic of Social Media for authors. (Upside to lying sick in bed: Hours and hours of kid-free reading time ;-))
Kristen’s are the first books on the topic of social media for writers that I have read, and if we ignore the typos that drove my ex-editor’s heart to palpitations (occupational hazard ;-), I can whole-heartedly recommend these books to writers. 

It was intriguing to read advice about social media and blogging solely from a writer’s perspective. Relaxing also, if for once we do not have to do the mental gymnastics of trying to translate any advice to the special circumstances of writers and books.
Of course I have yet to see whether her advice works out in “real life” (my other blog has been sleeping for 2 years), but on the page her examples looked helpful and spot-on. I also felt very caught out (in a good way) in small details like her warning of the “Bright Idea Fairy” that pops up whenever a writer contemplates starting a blog. One of the bright ideas: Write the blog from the POV of a character. Another one: Fill a blog with snippets from your fiction. … She not only states rules (though they are rather … guidelines ;-), but always explains whyshe thinks something is a bad idea, which I found really helpful.
Are there books on the topic you can recommend?

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