Friday, March 27, 2009

Blogger of the Week:
Casey McCormick, Literary Rambles...


The "About Me" on Casey McCormick's blog Literary Rambles describes her as an "aspiring author, amateur photographer, coffee craver, and (tired) mother of two–trying to find my place in the writing world . . . join me," she says, "as I struggle and thrash against the bonds of my doubt and insecurity." I'm certain her bio resonates with many writers who include Literary Rambles on their online reading lists. Here Casey talks about the evolution of her blog and offers terrific advice to other writers on making their way in the blogosphere.

How long have you been blogging and what prompted you to start? What did you hope to accomplish?

I had been blogging on and off for about six years (never regularly or well) before I started my writing blog in April of 2008. I had recently joined the Absolute Write forums and thereafter found myself reading the blogs of both published and unpublished writers. I was immediately
sucked into the time-consuming black hole that is blog stalking (but not in a creepy way, I promise!) The kid lit community is just amazing and full of awesomeness, but I doubt I need to tell anyone reading this blog that!

What did I hope to accomplish? In the beginning I had no idea what I wanted to do with my blog. I wanted a presence in the writing community and was happy to remember to post once a week or month or… ever at all. I considered myself a terrible blogger but I wanted to be like all the
other cool kidlits. My very first blog post says “new” in the subject line and “encourage” in the body and that’s it. That’s how much I didn’t have to say. A year later, I’m blogging almost daily and Literary Rambles has definitely taken a more professional turn. Looking back on the first six months of my blog is like looking at my first manuscript, i.e. cringe worthy.

What kind of posts can readers expect on Literary Rambles? What are your regular features?

I didn’t have any regular features until I started something called “Wednesday’s Word Count” late last year. After a post I wrote about goals and how beneficial they are to writing, I decided to create a weekly post where we could publicly state our writing goals as a means of encouragement and motivation. It hasn’t been extremely popular, but it’s always there, and it helps me to know that I have at least a few eyes on my weekly word counts.

More recently, I began a feature called “Agent Spotlight,” which is significantly more popular. The idea behind Agent Spotlight was to condense the task of researching an agent into a blog post. I find whatever information I can including interviews, quotes, preferences, pet peeves, realistic response times, etc. and then try to include what people are saying about the agent, whether good or bad. I openly invite readers to post their experiences with the spotlighted agent in the comments (even anonymously, if they prefer) or to e-mail me if they feel I should have the information prior to the post’s launch. Those go up on Thursday and I really can’t wait until I have a large list of Spotlights for writers to reference.

Beyond those weekly recurrences, I post helpful links, random publishing news, contests, questions, goals, the occasional article on writing, and whatever else I can come up with to keep me blogging. Recently some friends and I have been doing a 30k in 30 (one) Days writing challenge, which you could consider a concept-cousin to NaNoWriMo, and I’d love to do more challenges like it in the future.

Your blog lists other places readers can find you online. Do you participate in other blogs and in what capacity?

The only other blog I actively belong to is a group blog called Flashy Fiction. What is it? Seven writers give flash fiction prompts seven days a week. It’s a ton of fun and a great place to practice or loosen up for a day of writing. We keep it very low-key and nonjudgmental. Writers of every caliber are welcome as long as they respect the rules, which are under the 411 link on the sidebar. My prompts go up on Tuesday.

I love your To Read Montage. (I have two giant and precarious nightstand stacks myself.) How quickly do books move to your Reading spot on the blog?

Not fast enough! It really depends on the book and the amount of time I have for reading. Isn’t that always the case? Some books I’ll read in hours, others take me a few weeks. I try to read a minimum or two or three books a month but I certainly wish I had time for more.

Could you offer some advice to writers new to the blogosphere?

If you’re interested in networking and building a platform for little more than time, then definitely get into blogging. Just remember that whatever you say reflects back on you. No matter what you post on your blog, keep an underlying tone of professionalism. If you’re journeying toward publication, your blog will eventually be a means for publishing professionals to assess you as a person, and the person behind the pages matters, too.

Also, give your blog time to grow. You’ll probably start off slow and that’s fine. I did. I have a post on my blog called “Blog Topics for Writers” that you can find here if you’re stumped. The best way to get a following, at least in my opinion, is to give as much as you take. Get out there and participate in the blogging community. Comment on other writer’s blogs, but don’t bother unless you have something genuine to say. After you get into the swing of things, try finding something unique to offer your readers. If you’ve got something good, word of mouth will be your vessel from there.

If you’re not the blogging type or just don’t feel ready, I’d encourage you to at least make a profile that you can comment from. Beyond the joyous advantage of making friends, you can make a name for yourself so people will recognize you later if you ever do start a blog or become
published.

12 comments:

Nina said...

As a fellow writer and blogger I found this very encouraging. I think the feature where you spotlight a different literary agent is brilliant and generous. I'll be reading regularly.

Casey said...

Thanks again, Alice. I feel so honored to be featured.

I'm glad you found it encouraging, Nina! I've been extended so much help and encouragement from the kid lit community that I can't help but try to give back. I just love it.

Shelli said...

we love casey :)

Casey said...

Thanks Shelli. Your blog is already quite fabulous, of course!

Lamar said...

This is a call to everyone to please step outside the right vs. left paradigm. While there are important issues worth debating within this paradigm, all of them will be moot if we do not focus on a much greater issue outside this paradigm. Thomas Jefferson warned of wealth concentrating to such an extent that it threatened the state. Nowadays the media has taught us all very well to ridicule anyone who talks of central banks usurping the power of government. Well now I suppose the media will have to laugh at themselves, as many outlets from Newsweek to the Financial Times of London are openly discussing the creation of a "bank of the world" that will control economic policies of every nation. I invite you to watch this video, which details how this is currently taking place. While it focuses on our current officials' cooperation with these plans, it steps out of the typical political paradigm by highlighting the cooperation of both parties. Please do not look to politicians to protect us. Only we can protect us. And our first step must be to reach out to police and military. Without their cooperation, the global elite won't have the muscle to exercise their will of oppression. Please share this oath-keepers blog with them.

Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...

Great interview and advice on blogging.

Karen and Robyn - Writing for Children said...

I also think Agent Spotlight is a wonderful addition. I will make a point to stop by on Thursdays.

Thank you,

Karen Cioffi

Casey said...

Thank you Jennifer and Karen!

Angie Frazier said...

Thanks for introducing me to Casey's blog, it looks like a great one!

Sarah Garrigues said...

Thanks Alice for turning me onto Casey's blog. It's a great find.

I also created a blog with the goal of providing the answers to the most common industry questions for newbies in the field. I would love any feedback you might have.

The blog homepage is
here.

The basic post answering from how to get an agent or write a query to is self-publishing a good option for me can be found
here.

Please let me know if you find these links helpful. Feel free to leave a comment or subscribe.

Thanks and Happy Writing!

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