Still wearing those party hats in celebration of our Year 10, right? In continuation of the festivities today we have a chat with one of our veteran bloggers, Wendy Van Camp. Read on to see what she has to say about writing, blogging, and reading.
Wendy: I’ve been a blogger since 2011 with my writing blog, No Wasted Ink. Finding readers for my early work was difficult, as it is for most bloggers when they first start out. One of my post series was writing reviews of classic science fiction and fantasy authors for my blog. Interest in these articles came from many sources. I started using them not only as blog posts for No Wasted Ink, but reprinting them once a month as a series in a community newsletter for a science fiction writers group I belonged to, on Suvedo, and to publish in various magazines as they were accepted. In 2015, I saw a call for writers to join the Luna Station Quarterly blogging staff on the Broad Universe email list. Broad Universe is a writing guild that supports women writers in the speculative fiction genre. Being an old-school feminist, I was intrigued by the message LSQ promoted and thought that I would submit my book reviews as an ongoing monthly column. My idea was accepted. In 2017, I expanded to a second column where I reprint interviews with women science fiction or fantasy authors. Due to time constraints, I am not writing the book reviews any longer, but focus on the author interviews as my main column.
Wendy: I interview both male and female authors in speculative fiction for my blog. I consider myself to be mainly a speculative fiction author and poet, so I want to create content for my writing blog that would attract readers of these genre to my site. Although I do publish flash fiction and poetry of my own devising on my blog and on Medium, I find that interviews create posts with less work on my part, but still provide a rich content for my readers. Plus, I enjoy supporting my fellow authors. It is tough out there and I feel we should stand together and lift each other up.
My interview process is a little complicated and I use a Trello board to keep track of all the steps of where each author I interview is in that process. I always have plenty of authors who are interested in being interviewed. I have an outright following of my blog of many thousands and a Twitter following of around 24K where I promote the interviews, so being on No Wasted Ink can drive sales and buzz for any author that I accept in my interview series. I open a call for authors twice a year and only accept enough writers to fill my available slots for six months. Sometimes there is a little overflow, but I try my best to accommodate everyone. My sources vary. I sometimes put out a call in science fiction writing groups of which I’m a member in order to help support my fellow members, but other times I approach authors who have purchased a table at a science fiction convention because I feel these authors have a better understanding of the value I offer and are quick to participate and complete their interviews on time. When a call goes out, I am processing anywhere from 12 to 15 interviews at the same time.
I schedule the authors on my blog by completed interview arrival. I don’t hold places for people without an interview in hand. My goal is to get everyone processed in a short amount of time so I am free to return to my own writing and convention schedule. Once an interview arrives, I wait until I have four or five in hand and then I schedule and format those interviews into my blog. Formating includes setting the text, but it also involves working on the photos to clean them up, recut them, and size them for their spaces on the blog. By doing this, I shrink the time my blog needs to load and use less storage on my blog host. Finally, once the schedule date and URL is settled, I preload Twitter support posts for a two week time period for each interview. My backend software handles the delivery for me so I am not chained to my computer to do marketing.
LSQ fits in after this process. I send the women representing author interviews to LSQ in bulk once a year, and let the editors here decide when to schedule them. I handle all the formatting on the LSQ blog myself, but since the interviews have already been processed on No Wasted Ink, it is just a matter of going to my saved photo files and cut and pasting the text with a few modifications. I feel a bit bad that I can’t give a second promotion to my male speculative fiction authors as I do the females via LSQ, but the men have told me that they understand that women don’t have quite as much representation as they do and they are cool with only being on No Wasted Ink.
Wendy: No Wasted Ink is my little home on the internet. My blog is front and center. I try and have at least one new post each week, but it can go as high as three depending on my time. The content varies. I do a writer link post where I list ten writing related articles that I feel have substance for the intermediate or more advanced writer, but beginners often love them too. It is the most popular and most shared post series that I do. I also offer author interviews, my own flash fiction, my scifaiku poetry, infographics related to writing, articles about writing, my travels, and other topics. My blog connects to my other social media arms, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. I joined Medium as an author in 2017 and many of the articles that I publish there for members only, can later be found for free on my blog. Medium members get a little preview by following me there.
I highly recommend starting a blog if you are an author. It gives you a place to list your books for sale, but also a place to mark where your short stories and poetry are published. Your readers can more easily find your content on the internet without having to search high and low for it. The time to start your blog is always NOW. Don’t wait. It is a powerful tool in your arsenal, but it will take a few years to grow and be of value to you when it comes time to launch your novels. I find that the network of social media arms that I’ve developed have helped me not only as a novelist, but it supports my short stories and poems too.
Wendy: No Wasted Ink does take time off my table, but it is not my main writing. I am in the process of finishing up a four part novel series based off of Jane Austen’s book Persuasion. I use the characters and settings of this book, but not only do I explain what happened before the events of Persuasion, but I will also be taking the characters on a slightly different spin from the old story in the last two books. These are Regency era historical fictions and could also be considered women’s fiction. While there are romantic elements in all the books, I do not follow romance novel tropes. Book One, The Curate’s Brother, is available on Amazon and other online book outlets; the rest are in the pipeline. I am also at work on a poetry chapbook on the theme of Planet Mars. This chapbook will showcase my popular scifaiku poems and also longer poems that I am composing for the chapbook alone. I participate in open-mic readings on a regular basis, and having a chapbook available to sell at these times is my main goal for the poetry book, but I will also offer it online for the general public when the time comes.
Wendy: I’ve been a hard-core science fiction and fantasy reader for most of my life. I started with the Heinlein juveniles and then fell in love with the works of Anne McCaffery, Andre Norton, Ursula LeGuin, Vonda N. McIntyre, Robert Jordan, Elizabeth Moon, Robin McKinley, and many others. Most of my favorite authors tend to be female. This is by natural selection, not by conscious choice.
I like to read stories that are more character driven and have real people in fantastic settings. I also enjoy supernatural elements and magic and the way an author can create a natural seeming system of “science” for their books that are far from our real world. Although lately, due to reading The Martian by Andy Weir, I have grown to appreciate hard science fiction more and plan to write stories with real world science in the future. I also enjoy some romantic elements, but not to the point where they overpower the story. The real surprise to me is how I fell in love with Jane Austen in my forties, when I had never read a “romance” novel in my life. I think that Austen is up there with my most favorite authors of all time.