Free Coffee, Free Books, Free Bookmarks

In the wise words of Thomas Carlyle…

Rest is a fine medicine.

Since I started blogging all the way back in 2009, I never took such a long, extended break as I did these past two months. And let me tell you, it was good for my soul!

We did a lot of swimming. We did a lot of playing. We ate a lot of ice cream. I learned to cook some Congolese recipes. We took our first family vacation (yes, first one) to Adventureland wherein Brogan rode every single roller coaster, even the upside down one. WE PASSED COURT AND BECAME A FAMILY OF FOUR. But we are still waiting on various procedures and governmental steps before that joyous day when we can bring our daughter home and actually LIVE as a family of four. I edited a novel. I wrote a novel. I wrote a novella. I read some pretty fabulous fiction. And I was able to share the cover of my upcoming release with dear readers like you on Facebook.

A Broken Kind of BeautifulBut now Labor Day is past, summer is officially over, and my little man is in preschool. Which means, time to jump back into the blogosphere!

Let’s kick this new blogging year off in style, shall we?

Who likes coffee?

Who likes free books?

Who likes really pretty book marks?

Because I have all three and I’m in the mood to give stuff away!

I have 5 prize packages up for grabs, all of which include a $5 Starbucks gift card, a copy of Meg Moseley’s latest (Gone South), and a copy of my latest (Wishing on Willows), and these really pretty book marks.

DSCN3494Entering to win is a cinch. All you do is sign up to receive my blog posts via email (if you haven’t already), then answer the question below!

What have you been up to these past two months?

Curious about the new blogging schedule? I will be posting once a week, every Monday, about writing or books or Jesus or romance or adoption or….basically, whatever strikes my fancy. My hope is that whatever the topic may be, you will be blessed and entertained!

Who likes free Starbucks, free books & free book marks? @KatieGanshert’s giving them away! –> Click to Tweet

Controversy: Good or Bad for Fiction Authors?

Controversy sells. Controversy gets attention.

Just look at the latest public outcry surrounding Rush Limbaugh and Sandra Fluke.

Or look at well-known pastor, Mark Driscoll. He made a comment on Facebook about effeminate worship leaders and received a maelstrom of comments. 

Almost always, blog posts about controversial topics get more hits and more comments.

But is it wise for fiction authors to tackle these topics on their blogs?

I think, before we get to that question, we have address an easier one first:

Why are we blogging? 

Here are some of the more popular reasons novelists blog:

  • to get our name out there
  • to build a platform
  • to interact with readers
  • to establish a brand
I could write a blog post about my opinion of Rush Limbaugh or government paid birth control or masculinity in the church. I’m sure if I did, I’d get a good amount of traffic.
Because there are people out there who are passionate about these topics. 
But then what?
How many of those people weighing in about Rush Limbaugh would come back on Wednesday? What are the chances they would become a part of the community I’m trying to build on my blog?
There are things I am passionate about in this world. I might see a tweet and click on a link and engage in a fun debate. But how often do I go back to that blog when the topic changes to the next controversial thing?
Not often. Maybe never.
And when all is said and done, could we end up disrupting the community we already have?
Some people love debating. It gets the blood circulating. The heart pumping. The synapses firing.
But others look at that same debate and all they see is one giant argument.
One person enjoys the back and forth banter. Another feels like they’re being attacked. 
Here’s the thing. 
Controversial, hot-button subjects are polarizing. They are almost always divisive. 
As fiction authors, should we go there? 
Let’s Talk: Should novelists blog about hot button, controversial topics? Or is it best to steer clear? Why or why not? What are the benefits? What are the drawbacks? 
This post was inspired by a thought-provoking post titled, Our Beliefs Strengthen Inside a Rocked Boat, from one of my good writing buddies, Heather Sunseri. Thanks for the inspiration, Heather!

Reaching a Broader Audience

Do you fix something that isn’t technically broken? How about tweaking it to make it more effective?

Over the last week, I’ve read best-selling author Kristen Lamb’s two books on social media. We Are Not Alone: A Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There Blog? It’s Me, Writer.

Her books have encouraged me, because there are things I’m doing right. Things I enjoy. Like connecting with others and building relationships. I like doing that stuff. I like that I get to spend time on Facebook and Twitter and call it work.

Her books have also challenged me, because there’s always room for improvement.

One of the things I wrestle with is blog content.

I blog about writing. And a lot of times, I feel like I’m repeating what’s already been said a hundred times before. In craft books. In workshops. In articles. On other blogs.

I’m writing to an audience of writers when I’m trying to reach an audience of readers. 

Granted, some of you (hopefully), will read my book when it releases in May. But I’m also alienating a whole population of readers who could care less about writing.

Here’s the thing.

Remember that post I wrote about creating a social media plan? The one where I encouraged everyone to ask important questions? Questions like why are we blogging, or Twittering, or Facebooking?

I had to take my own advice. I had to ask myself those same questions.

Why am I blogging?

My answer isn’t: To help writers grow (as awesome as that is).

I started blogging and continue to blog because I want to build a relationship with readers.

The majority of my readers are going to be Christian women who love romance. They aren’t going to care about Motivation Reaction units. And those who do can pick up a book by Dwight Swain.

So what am I doing?

I think I’ve gotten so comfortable blogging about writing that I haven’t stopped to think why I’m doing it. And really, it’s sort of been working. My blog has steadily grown in its readership and I’ve formed some really cool friendships because of it.

So if it’s not broken, why mess with it?

It’s a question I battled with all last week. And here’s what I decided:

Even though it’s working doesn’t mean it’s working as well as it could. I don’t want to miss out on connecting with a wider audience because I’m afraid to try something new.

Which means…..

I’m going to try something new. Especially after reading Kristen’s post on blog content.

After a few months, I’ll assess. If it’s a flop, I can always go back to what I’ve been doing. But if it works? I will kiss Kristen Lamb’s feet and enjoy building a relationship with readers before my book hits the shelves.

So here it goes. My new content and schedule:

Writing related posts on Monday. Because writing is my passion and I want to continue serving the audience I already have (writers). Plus, I enjoy sharing my journey as a newly contracted novelist in a rapidly-changing industry.

Faith related posts on Wednesdays. Because the Christian faith plays a big role in each and every one of my novels and an even bigger role in each and every day of my life.

On Fridays? Romance. Family. Books. Life. I was thinking of limiting it to romance, since that’s what I write, but then I thought. What if I want to write about books? Or parenthood? Maybe it would be best not to make this too limiting.

So there you go. My new schedule. If any of these topics interest you, I hope you’ll join in the conversation!

Let’s Talk: Why do you blog? Why do you read blogs? Do you read blogs that don’t focus on writing? Do you wrestle with content? Do you think non-writing readers are looking to connect with authors via blogs?removetweetmeme