Monday, November 12, 2007

Let There Be Questions - Part III

More questions from those inquisitive Marketing students at Kennesaw State University.

Amanda A. asks - "Do you ever feel that being so open and blunt in your blogs, that fans of yours would stop reading your pieces if they disagreed with your personal opinions?"

Ah, you see, that's the rub. Blogs expose an author to the world in ways even we can't contemplate. Where there aren't many comments on my blogs, I do have a fair number of readers as per the stats page. Many authors stay strictly within the "here's a picture of my pet mongoose and here's me at the latest convention and by the way, my latest book is due out on Friday." I have no problems with that, but I'm just wired a bit different. I believe that with public exposure comes some responsibility as to social issues. My life is not entirely comprised of book signings, brushing the cat, etc., so I feel I should comment on the real world every now and then.

I don't expect my readers to accept what I write as it were Gospel. I just want folks to pry open their minds and think through stuff they might have previously just accepted without much thought. We all do that. It's easier. But the bigger questions in life need some careful consideration. I am blessed in the respect that I am not for one political party so my postings don't seem as partisan as they could be. So far I have had only one person take great exception to something I wrote and that was when I said that Jesus was a liberal, someone who bucked the establishment. The lady did not like that. We shall just have to disagree on that point.

In all honesty, I could be turning off readers. It's definitely a possibility. As with all things, one has to accept the cause and effect of one's actions. I do know that if I didn't post what I was thinking, the blog would have no meaning for me.

And Amanda also asks - "With regards to the Internet, how has the emergence of technology affected you as a writer? Do you consider it a positive or negative effect?"

It's both ways. The Internet is an incredible tool for research and promotion. I can wander through the records of Newgate Prison from the early 1800's. I can see who crossed on a ship from the UK to the US during that time. I can view images and read personal accounts of life in Late Victorian London that I would never have seen unless for the Internet. I can plan my research itinerary all from visiting museum websites. Previously these tasks would have required a trip to a library (if the books were available). Now I can do all that by moving my mouse.

The negative side is that the Internet now requires another level of marketing exposure. There are all those social networking sites, blogs, websites, chat rooms, message boards, you name it. I could spend all day just keeping up with those and not get a lick of writing accomplished. So the savvy writer quickly learns where to use their time for the most effect. I tend to avoid social networking sites like MySpace, etc., as I see them as a time sink. They may well bring new readers in the fold, but maybe they don't. I do visit one "social" site (Crimespace.ning.com) because it fits my need to interact with other mystery readers and writers. Obviously I blog. I try to keep my website up-to-date and I do troll around the message boards on occasion which range from paranormal mystery to romance to Jack the Ripper. Quite eclectic.

The problem with the Internet is that there is so much competition for the reader's attention and it's easy to get lost in the buzz. So it is a blessing and a curse from this writer's perspective, though I have to admit that writing my books would have been an incredibly difficult task if it wasn't for the Web.

This is Amanda's day! "Which award have you received that is the most special to you? Why?"

I hesitated tackling this one as I was sure I'd aggravate one of the contests if I said "X" is my favorite. At last count I've won seven awards so someone is going to feel left out. So let me go at this in a more balanced, Solomon-like approach:

The Compton Crook Award -- I didn't win this one but I got very close. This was the wake-up call. If I could get this near to such a major award, right behind Naomi Novik who is great writer, I knew something had changed. I was stunned by this and it was fortunate I made this adjustment early in the year as the rest of 2007 would have left me on life support.

The ForeWord Award -- to be chosen over all those other authors for THE fiction book of the year absolutely blew me away. I received the phone call from Brian Hades (Hades Publications) after the awards ceremony in NY. All I can remember saying is "OMG! OMG!" I don't usually take the Deity's name in vain, but somehow I think this one was kosher.

The Independent Publisher Award, Golden Quill, Bookseller's Best & Pluto Awards -- these were all very meaningful to me. They proved I had broad support across the genres, not only in science fiction and fantasy, but in romance. Each one reminded me this is what I was meant to do in this life.

The Daphne du Maurier and the Prism Awards -- These meant a bit more because of a couple of vows I'd made a few years back. I'd finaled for the Daphnes twice with my self-pubbed books. I swore that some day I'd be back up there to claim a First Place Daphne of my very own. Unfortunately, this year they did away with the speeches so I didn't get to deliver the one I'd worked on for an entire YEAR. Maybe in 2008.

The Prism -- I first held one of these gorgeous awards in 2002 when P.C. Cast won her first. (I think she's up to three now.) I vowed I'd write something good enough to win one. So when I did, I floated up to the podium and immediately discarded the speech I'd written.

Each of these awards are displayed prominently in my house. They are a reminder that others find my work of value, that what I write has meaning. When an author is hip deep in the middle of a particularly difficult passage/chapter/book, it helps to look up at those awards and say, "Yeah, I can write. So let's get this done, okay?"

2 comments:

Amanda A said...

Jana...How neat it was to learn that you had answered not one of my questions, but 3!! Tyra told us in class and showed everyone and it definately gave me more to talk about when completing my speaker portfolio!! We had a blast listening to everything you had to say about your life as well as the publishing industry. I guess I never realized how cut throat the publishing industry is. Now that I am graduating in 3 days, I will be able to catch up on all the reading that I have missed out on b/c I am always reading text books!! Thanks again for taking the time out of your busy schedule to come in and speak with us, and Happy Holidays!!

Jana Oliver said...

Graduating in THREE days! How exciting. Set your goals high. If you do that, you'll reach 'em.

Have a great life!!