Entries in Linkage and Lovage (10)


Contest! Book Bomb for a Cause!

Recently I read a terrific book written by someone I know. Sometimes this can be a little nerve-wracking: what if you don't like the book even though you love the friend? What will you say next time you see each other? Awkward!

But there was no need for worry in this situation. The book I read was Variant, and its author is Rob Wells.

Larry Correia recently described Variant as a "sci-fi Lord of the Flies," and I think that's a great logline--except there is hope and romance and intrigue aplenty to be found within its pages as well--something for everyone. Interesting, believable characters? Yes. Vivid setting? You bet. Byzantine plot that will keep you guessing? Check.  It's a suspenseful carnival ride of a read, and it will surely make my Top Ten Books list this year--so I would unreservedly recommend it to you no matter what.

If you don't take my word for it that Variant is worth your time, trust the smart people at Publisher's Weekly. They recommend it as one of the best books of 2011.

Besides being a great writer, Rob is also a terrific guy. A few years ago, he founded the Whitney Awards to help raise the level of writing produced by LDS novelists. He constantly and cheerfully gives of his time and knowledge to help less experienced writers. He's super funny, too. Here's a post he co-wrote with his equally talented and amusing brother, Dan Wells (a writer whose work I've recommended to you before).

But here's the thing. Rob Wells recently and inexplicably developed a severe panic disorder--one that doctors have not yet been able to treat effectively. Rob has faith that he will find a solution, but in the meantime, he is debilitated by this disease. How much so? Last week, he got laid off from his job. We're not storming the workplace; Rob maintains that his employers did everything they could for him. But in this economic climate--well, you know how brutal it is out there.

Christmas is coming. Rob and his wife have little kids. And here's the thing you may not know about writers. Even when they hit the national market in hardcover, they usually can't quit their day jobs until they have several books out--and oftentimes, not even then. Writing is a labor of love. Very, very few novelists make a living wage doing it, let alone get rich. And while I hope that Rob has a long and illustrious writing career, he has only taken a few steps on that road.

Larry Correia came up with a way to help Rob. He is using his considerable influence to convince everyone he knows to set a Book Bomb--buy one or more copies of Variant on Amazon on Thursday, 10 November--which is tomorrow, as I write. He hopes that with that combined purchasing power, Variant will soar to the top of Amazon's bestseller list and give the book the exposure it so richly deserves.

I'm in. Here's how I'm helping that Bomb explode. Tomorrow, I'll buy three more copies of Variant, one to donate to each of my two local libraries and one for our school. Then I'll go through my Christmas list and count up how many fortunate people will be getting a copy of Variant under their tree from me--that will be several more copies.

But I'm not stopping there. I'm hereby hosting a one-day contest. I will award a $50 Amazon gift certificate to one lucky person who meets the contest requirements below--and just to sweeten the pot, two other almost-as-lucky people will win signed copies of my cookbook, Comfortably Yum. (Give it as a gift if you already own it.) Here's how to win:

1) Buy one or more copies of Variant--hardcover or Kindle edition. For each copy you buy, you get an entry in the contest.

2) Tweet and/or post on Facebook about this contest. For each tweet/post, you get an entry in the contest. (If you don't use social media, worry not. Just buy the book, and you're in at least once.)

3) How will I know what you've done? Total up how many entries you have earned, come back here, and leave me your report in a comment. I'm not going to ask you to forward me your receipt or link to your posts; I know I don't need to remind any of my regular readers that you're on the honor system.

4) Friday morning, 11/11/11, at 9:00 a.m., I'll number all the entries and use a random number generator to choose the three winners. I'll post the results right here on Kashkawan.

This is a win-win-win! You get a great book. You help out a great guy. And you may win a great prize. Get to it!


The Quids and Quos of Blogging

Once upon a time, before I knew anything at all about blogging, I found this blog and fell in love. Here was a woman just like me—only taller, a much better photographer, possessed of half the number of children, and British. I wanted to be her friend. Craved her approval. Wished I could meet her.

I read through her entire archives, treating myself to a month’s worth at a time as a reward for chores well done, but didn’t dare comment for ages. She received well over 80 comments per post; she was famous! Surely there was no way she’d notice me. One day, though, I gave in. I agonized over each word: was my comment pithy? Non-groveling? Grammatically pristine? I eventually hit “Submit” and got on with my life.

The next day, I received a gracious reply from her via email. I was over the moon. After that, I grew more daring in commenting. I also started my own blog and tried to be as much like Jane as I possibly could.

As I started blogging myself, I found I wanted to read more than one blog. I started cruising aggregator sites, and I eventually developed another blogcrush. Here was a woman just like me—only funnier, more pragmatic, possessed of an adopted child from China, and unapologetically herself.

As I read through her entire archives a few posts at a time, I learned something new. Pezmama readily admitted to not enjoying reading books, especially fiction. Whaaaa?  That she could write such outrageously honest things about herself and retain her avid readership was a revelation to me. I resolved to be more like her—I mean, more like myself.

Pez has moved on beyond Planet Blog, and indeed from the internet in general, but our friendship has progressed. We write actual letters to one another with pens and paper, if you can imagine that.

After meeting Pezmama, I blogged along, finding my voice and developing lovely friendships along the way. I attended a couple of online blog carnivals and generally felt I’d discovered everything this strange new world had to offer.

One day, however, I had my bloggy socks knocked off yet again. Here was a woman just like me—only younger, with greener eyes, possessed of the most objectively beautiful children mankind has ever produced, and popular.

I couldn’t parcel out reading the archives this time; I binged on them the way I do a new Stephen King novel. Brillig had only been blogging for roughly the same amount of time I had, but she had far more readers (and for good reason: her every post is pure genius).

And I’d gotten to the point in my bloggy career at which, when it came to comments, I craved not only quality, but also quantity. I resolved that Brillig must not only become my friend, she must also teach me all the secrets to her huge readership and become my Blog Guru. Brillig the Blogguru? Brilluru? It sounds like something from H. P. Lovecraft….

Anyway: Feedcrack. I coined the word when I was getting to know Brillig and many of her cool fans; I probably should have pulled a Pat Riley and trademarked the term back then. Comments, input, interactive readership: whatever you call it, if you blog, you want feedcrack.

Non-bloggers don’t understand this. How comments are the currency of Planet Blog, to paraphrase the brilliant Charrette. How once you have put yourself out there in the ether, it’s very difficult not to wonder (obsess over, fixate upon, check fifty times per day) what others think of what you have expressed.

One day I was instant messaging back and forth with my Guru on the subject of feedcrack and its "quid pro quo" nature. Quid pro quo: an equal exchange. You read me, and I read you. Like the Mosaic Law.

I admitted to my Guru that I read three or four blogs unrequitedly: I left daily comments, but got almost none in return. Granted, these were hugely popular sites; there’s probably no physical way their authors could reciprocate all the comments they were receiving.

“Ditch ‘em,” the Guru commanded.

“But they’re so articulate,” I whined. “They inspire me.  They write the kind of posts I want to write.”

“If they don’t show their appreciation, you need to break up with them. Give your love where it will be valued. I promise: they won’t miss you, and I’m pretty sure you’ll end up not missing them, either.”

I obeyed. I always obey my Guru, even when she starts waxing eloquent on arcane topics like site meters and pingbacks. I nod intelligently (though I know she cannot see me) and do my best to follow her counsel.  And I've found that she's always right.

I’ve wrestled with the need for feedcrack. At times I’ve taken blogcations and have contemplated giving up the pastime altogether. I don’t like feeling dependent on anything other than my faith and my family. I’ve found, though, that if I work hard to keep my life in balance, feedcrack’s hold on me lessens to a very manageable degree.

And I can’t deny that my life has been dramatically enriched by my adventures in blogging. I have made treasured friends who live literally around the globe. (Hi, Ellen; hi Syar!)  I have formed valuable connections with peers and mentors in the world of writing. I have a rich resource of support that has borne me up through difficult times.  I hope I have been an influence for good.

So here I am again, with a pretty makeover and a fresh set of rules for a new start. I’ve been posting off and on for almost three years on a wide variety of topics as I’ve tried to figure out my blog identity. Mommyblogger? Foodie? Fantasy Writer? Grammar Authority? Essayist? Faith Promoter? We’ll see what survives the streamlining process; in the meantime, it looks like I'm here for the duration.

What about you? Have you had any blogcrushes? Do you follow anyone unrequitedly, or are you strictly a “quid pro quo” blogger? How do you handle your need for feedcrack? 

Tell me I’m not alone, people.

I’ve always been able to count on you for that.



Guest Appearance

There's an oldie-but-goodie of mine posted over at the fabulous Dunhaven Place today.


A Story Finds a Home

My short story "Truck Stop" appears in the latest issue of the new webzine Noctober. I must tell you: it's in excellent company. The other stories are really good; they tell of all sorts of creepy shenanigans involving coffee, ponds, paintings, carpets, and ivy. My favorites are "The Water Lily Room" and "The Garden Keeps His Confidences." Let me know what you think!


My Mind = Desert

I've been having a stupor of thought when it comes to the blog lately. In an effort to inspire me, the excellent Megan recently supplied me with a list of ideas for posts. (Go read her great piece on Joyce Carol Oates's classic short story "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been"; you won't be sorry.) All Megan's ideas were great, but I'm still coming up short. Is there a such thing as "blogger's block?" If not, I just invented it. Again.

Life is good. Everyone is healthy and happy (except Hope; apparently there is a wormhole in our house, and her backpack has disappeared into it). The weather is gorgeous. I'm busy, busy, busy, but that's nothing new. And I'm thinking that my recent jam-making exploits or ruminations on the current state of the speculative fiction world or rages over evil ninja garden-decimating deer aren't terribly interesting to anyone but myself.

Maybe I'll get myself together in time for Fascista Friday or Soap Opera Sunday later this week, but for now? I'm hoping James Cromwell will nod and smile at me and say, "That'll do, pig."