Wednesday, 11 November 2009

A Writing 101 Production - Part 1 An Overview of Author Platforms

This blog is about many things--whatever takes my fancy. So there's a good deal of variety in my posts--as in my life. But lately there's been nagging.
'You're a writer,' say the naggers (you know who you are), 'so tell us about writing. What does it feel like when you're in the middle of a novel/thinking of something new/stuck/rejected/dejected etc etc?'
Er, normal. That's how it feels to me. It's my life. It's what I do. And there are lots of really good people out there (Stroppy Author and Crabbit Old Bat, to name only 2) blogging about the process of writing, giving sage advice. Why me?
'Well,' they whine, 'everyone's different. Every writer has a different approach to their work. You might say that one thing which helps someone to finish their masterpiece. Go on--they'll hang on your every word.'
Oh well. All right then. Flattery works. I suppose I can drag myself away from the current project for long enough to say something that might be useful to someone...and it never hurts to build the author platform a little higher.

'So what's an author platform, then?'
Sigh. Well--it's not talking about the writing process exactly, but still.
In a nutshell, an author platform is about
It's about embracing all those new and scary technologies and using them in an entirely shameless way to publicise yourself and your books. It's about being
PRO-ACTIVE. (Thanks @BubbleCow)

So how did it all happen? In the old days, I used to write in pencil, in longhand. My brain fed the words down my arm, and they appeared on the paper. It all took a Very Long Time. Then I got a computer and forced my brain to send the words down to ten reasonably fast typing fingers. But there was no email, so everything got sent off in the Royal Mail to publishers and (when I got one, finally) my lovely agent. That all took a Very Long Time too. I used to sit in my little garret, staring at the walls, writing a bit, staring at the walls, writing a bit. There was the occasional phone call from an editor. There was the occasional letter. But that was it. I knew no other authors locally. I felt very lonely and isolated. Fast forward a few years....
The age of the internet arrived. I got an email address. Communication got faster (but publishers were still slow to respond!). Did I have an author platform yet? I did not. But I started one (in a very small way) when I was asked to do my very first school visit. (That's a whole other topic). Then I got a
Things started to move up a gear. I got fanmail. I got more school and library visit requests than I knew what to do with. I joined the Society of Authors (Children's Writers and Illustrators Group). I went to conferences. I joined the SAS (no, not the balaclaved hard men, the Scattered Authors' Society), which meant that I actuallymet some other authors who lived near me. I joined Facebook, got my alter ego, Atticus the Storyteller, to set up a fan group for me. I took on the Facebook page for the Campaign for the Book (contact with lots of wonderful librarians). I started to blog for An Awfully Big Blog Adventure.

See what's happening here? I'm getting myself out there. Slowly but surely, I'm constructing a technological spider's web which reaches into lots of different areas. My author platform is growing higher and more noticeable. And then I started this very blog, the one you're reading...and I joined Twitter.
But that, dear readers, is a story for another day. Part 2 Coming Soon, as they say in the cinema.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Remembrance Day

I don't have anyone out there. Not now. The last time I did was during the Falklands War. I can still see those thin blue airmail letters coming through the door--closely written and hard to read, saying difficult stuff that might otherwise have been left unspoken. Tying off loose ends and putting things in order. Preparing me for the death that might come when that long sea voyage ended and the fighting started on Mount Tumbledown. I still have them. The soldier who wrote them survived and is one of my oldest friends.

So I remember that, and I feel a jolt of sickness and sadness every time another death is announced on the radio or tv. They are all so young. It's such a waste of lives hardly begun. Some are no older than my son. I do not understand war. I would like us all to live in peace and understanding. But I know enough of human nature to see that it is sometimes a necessary thing to stand and fight for what you believe in. It was necessary and right to stop Hitler. And whatever I think of the rights or wrongs of this particular war, I still believe it is right to remember and honour the fallen of both past and present, not just on Remembrance Sunday and the 11th November--but every day. We forget our dead too easily--and the wounded (in both mind and body) left behind are treated disgracefully by this Government. That is why I support Help for Heroes. For me, doing nothing is not an option. And I wear my poppy with pride and grief.

Remembrance 2009 @ 11

In that silence, I had a vision
of all the war torn dead turned to dust and ashes;
lying scattered over all the lands
that held their fragile bones.
Long dead, long ago some were, and some most recent.
Innocent and guilty, heroes and war criminals,
enemy essence mingled with friendly fire,
subsumed into earth and made whole again
without regard to race or creed or colour.
Watching, I saw the dust rise up
in a silver cloud that covered the sun’s face.
And as the people stood silent, remembering grief
and the priceless cost of war,
it drifted down, sparkle upon sparkle,
bright upon bright, prayer upon prayer,
peace bound upon us, dropping slow
into the statutory two minutes of poppy-clad hope.
Then the shuffle of pew-bound feet
and the angry chatter of belfry jackdaws
urged the cloud upwards into swirling chaos spikes,
sharp pinning its urgent message
to the four winds of God, for those to see who can.
The expectation of peace in our time fragmented and died
before the Vicar had shaken hands with the last of us.

'Remembrance 2009' copyright Lucy Coats 2009
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