September 30, 2014

#askamowriting - getting comments

Hello peeps :)
The latest question to #askamowriting is about blogging, and how to get comments on blog posts.
It's a good question, and is something I've found can be hard work. But then this writing thing is supposed to be hard work if we're doing it right.  
I don’t get many comments on my blog posts and I’d love some more.
Even the really heartfelt things I write. Is there anything I can do.  
Thanks Aunty Amo, love from… me x
ps just call me 'me' in your answer
Dear you
First of all, why are yiz all so shy, wanting to be anonymous? Are there other underlying problems….? :D I probably can’t help with those.
Anyway... you’ll notice at the end of this blog post that you can’t post a comment here. It took me a while to get used to that, but I always invite comment over on FB. So feel free to pop over there and say hi :)
I wrote about this for Writer's Fun Zone a while ago and I’ll give you the tips I shared there. They’re still the tips I would give now. But before I do, let me say something about lack of comments when you’re sharing ‘heartfelt’ and personal stuff.
I like to think that folk are reading and nodding in agreement, even if they can’t or won’t say publically that they are. Particularly over on my devotional blog, where I’ve shared about personal issues to do with weight, childlessness, loss etc. I know from the stats that people are reading. If your reader numbers are low, that’s a whole other question. If you're getting readers, and those readers are not commenting, then do put the things I suggest below into practise; but don’t be afraid to write for the folk who will agree with you in their hearts, if not publically.
So here we go - tips to get more comments.
1. Ask a direct question
At the end of your post, ask a question. Not one that requires a yes or no answer; one that requires some thought and engagement. People like to be asked their opinions.
And don’t just pretend to be interested – BE interested and engage with their response
2. Read to be Read
You'll have heard it said that to be a good writer is to be a good reader. Well the same goes for blogging. To be good bloggers we really should be reading other blogs.
There are blogs I just love to read. Folk that are far more engaging and entertaining than I am, and I can’t help but comment on their posts. Good bloggers will always invite response and welcome your opinion on their musings.
Reading the comments that others have added, gives you a sense of other bloggers out there, who are reading what you're reading. Visit their blogs and leave a comment. Engaging with other 'active commenters' is a great way to build a more engaged readership of your own.
3. Be a Social (Media) Butterfly
Connecting with fellow bloggers on social media is a great way to share what you want to say, and hear what others are saying. It’s a compliment to a blogger if you share their post on Twitter or your FB page. I would shy away from a ‘you scratch my back…’ mentality with sharing. What we're trying to build here is genuine engagement, not just a quid pro quo on retweets,
Investing time into your social media connections is well worth it though.
It won’t all happen in a couple of days. I read blogs that have at least 20 or 30 comments on every post but that’s often from 100s of followers. It takes time to build a following and develop connections.
But if that’s what we want… then it starts with us!
I would love to hear your thoughts. What do you do to encourage engagement on your blog?
Be sure to
 "leave a comment" :) on  my Facebook page or tweet @amowriting 
Or maybe you'd like to submit a question to #askamowriting? Email me amowriting at gmail dot com

September 6, 2014

Author Interview with Martin Malone

I'm delighted to welcome Martin Malone to the blog. Martin launched my book, The Long & The Short of it in the local library here in Kilcullen. He said some wonderful things about the book; but more than that, he mentioned some of the characters by name. Spoke about their personalilties and struggles in some cases. There's nothing gives greater joy than to know some has really read your book. Since then I've made it my business to read his... and there are many :)
I was at the launch of Martin's latest collection of short stories, 'Deadly Confederacies and other stories'. Anthony Glavin - writer, editor & critic, launched the book and it was obvious that he has the highest regard for Martin as man and writer. Eoin Purcell of New Island Books said that Martin's writing is among the best being produced in Ireland, but the credit for it was scarce. I couldn't help thinking that I should try to do something about that... :) 
So I'd like to introduce him to all you fine peeps.
Martin can you tell us a little about yourself and how long you have been writing?
I've been writing on and off over a 25 year stretch now. I used to write in my early teens but gave it up, preferring instead to read, run and play soccer. These days, I'm a part-time writer and a part-time English teacher. I did write full-time for a year after I left the army, but I don't know – you hear tell of writers spending six hours a day writing, but it isn't for me. A lot of writing, for me, at any rate, is done away from the page, which is why I've come close on several occasions to nearly being 'wrote off' while crossing the road. Unless there's a red heat with the writing, I don't punch in the hours at the laptop. I mean, come on, at times writing is like lying on a rack and moving the stretching wheel by yourself.
I served in the army for 21 years and served six tours of duty abroad: Lebanon and Iraq. So I know pretty well the political and socio-economic dynamics of the region.
Do you think you were always a writer?
Who's writing do you love to read?
My own. But seriously, my own. To be deadly serious; Roddy Doyle, Sebastian Barry, Magnus Mills. Amos Oz, Al Carr, James Coetzee, Ann Enright, Mary Lavin, MJ Hyland, Saki, Raymond Carver, Albert Camus, Tim O'Brien, William Maxwell, and very many more.
So, what have you written?
Written loads but published 6 novels, 2 short story collections, a memoir, a stage play, several radio plays, many stories for RTÉ and BBC radio. Winner of the John B Keane/Sunday Independent Award, RTÉ's Francis MacManus Short Story Award and others...
Do your books all fall into the same genre?
No, I don't think so. 'Us' was about a problem family on the Curragh, 'After Kafra' concerned a soldier suffering from PTSD, 'The Broken Cedar' is a murder mystery set in Lebanon, 'The Silence of the Glasshouse' is based on the state sponsored murder of eight anti-treaty soldiers in Kildare/Curragh, 'The Only Glow of the Day' deals with the wren women on the Curragh; and 'Valley of the Peacock Angel' is set in Iraq and Germany, about the chemical weapons attack on a Kurdish town.
Do you have a special time/place to write?
If working on a novel, I like to get in about 2 to 3 hours early in the morning and push it for 70/80 days until I get the first draft.
Computer or pen and paper?
Computer, but I sometimes write longhand.
Tell us about 'Deadly Confederacies' your new collection of short stories.
These are diverse tales, very strong throughout, and they include  many new stories, some published, award winning, and others are already set to feature in magazines and anthologies some months down the line. Reader responses, in the main, have been encouraging.
Have you a rule of thumb, a mantra or golden rule when it comes to your own writing?
Several, as you'd expect from a proponent and teacher of Japa Yoga: write your very best, accept that your best varies; harbour no expectations and be grateful for any success that comes your way; do not wear disappointment, do not be jealous of any other writer's achievements, do not undermine any other writer's voice in order to promote your own. Be gracious and encouraging to writers who are beginning their literary journey. By all means promote your work, as this is expected of you by publishers, but not to the point of ad nauseam. So, guard against the ego.  Writing is not all that matters in life.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Enjoy the writing process, write from the heart but steer with the head. Don't worry if what you're writing on any given day isn't going anywhere – it is practice – practice writing is important and a love of reading. Also, resist the temptation to self-publish your work. Your writing shouldn't cost you money. In fact, you should be paid for it. There is nothing wrong with self-publishing, but I would recommend that the writer writes/practices for three years, perhaps building up a CV of writing successes, before engaging with the process of self-publishing. And ensure that you give it your time and resources – you do not want your book to look like the sole leper on the shelves. Do it right. Professional. Make that an unbreakable rule.  Lastly, the writing world is evolving – well known publishing houses are merging and so on – I was in America in 2011 and it was crushing to see a Borden's outlet closing down; they couldn't give away beautiful books written by the top class writers.  Could not give them away...
Where can people find out about you and your books?
Amazon, Eason's, Farrell's in Newbridge, Barker & Jones, Kildare and Athy Heritage Centres, Ebay, Chapter's, WH Smith, Tesco UK, Waterstones, Hodges and Figgis – me – what I'm basically writing here, is that there is no excuse for anyone not to buy my books. Unless, of course, you're jealous, got poor taste, etc..
If you have any comments or questions for Martin you can pop over to my Facebook page or tweet @amowriting and I'll be sure to pass them on. 

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