In this, the season of giving…
During the past two weeks, I’ve been reminded twice about why writers and bloggers always benefit somehow by promoting each other’s work in their blogs.
First, August McLaughlin, author of the new thriller In Her Shadow and blogstress extraordinaire of Savor the Storm, hooked me up with The Next Great Blog Tour. It is a very creative “tag, you’re it” form of promotion in which I answered 10 stock questions about my forthcoming novel, Voice Lessons. Next, I posted the interview to the Word Journeys Blog, and also posted links for August’s blog — since she connected me to this tour. After that, I linked to the blogs of five other writers, who answered the questions, posted their interview along with my link, and passed it along to five others … you get the idea. What a wonderful “promote self & others” gesture.
The second beneficial moment was more direct. I’ve been working with Lynne Martin on her book, Home Free, a travel narrative about the post-retirement adventures of she and her husband, Tim (whose novel, Mental Hygiene, I edited last year). To boil a wonderful, poignant and oft-humorous tale to a single sentence, Lynne and Tim are living and playing for a couple months at a time in different places around the world, immersing themselves not as tourists, but as locals. So far, they’ve been to 14 places as they gear up for Year Three of their fun odyssey. In October, Lynne wrote a big travel feature on their experiences for The Wall Street Journal, which turned out to be the most-read piece of the month. Very impressive, when you consider her competition was the overdose of election coverage. Now, a major book deal is imminent.
After I finished writing Lynne’s book proposal, editing her sample chapters and hooking her up with literary agent Dana Newman, Lynne gave me a nice shout-out in her blog. What have I said to working writers for years about blog, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook shout-outs? You never know who is reading. In this case, Larissa and Michael Milne were reading from their Pennsylvania home. They’d seen the Wall Street Journal article, clicked to Lynne’s blog … and, right before Christmas, contacted me to do business.
To Lynne Martin, my deepest thanks.
This calls to mind perhaps the most “out of the blue” shout-out of my career. Almost three years ago, I walked into a Starbucks in Tucson, AZ. I wanted to check my emails before driving to the other side of town, where I was about to teach a writing workshop at the house of my friend and workshop host, Lesley Lupo, author of the beautifully written and illustrated older children’s book, Soul Seeds.
After checking emails, I clicked onto Facebook, still fairly new to me at the time (I was a holdout until late 2008). In the notifications section, the list of comments between friends, I saw the number “125”. As in, 125 posts and comments pertaining to me. Whaaaaaaat? Who hacked me?
Instead, I found a huge surprise. Michael Shrieve, the drummer for Santana during the band’s most classic years (Michael delivered the unforgettable drum solo to “Soul Sacrifice” at Woodstock, which was immortalized on the film), saw my poem, “Paths on a Face”. He caught it on the website for The Hummingbird Review, Charles Redner’s fine literary anthology that I edited. “Paths on a Face” is certainly the most popular poem I’ve written, judging from requests and responses at readings. It touched Michael enough for him to post the link to his Facebook friends — all 5,000+. Michael and I had become Facebook friends and corresponded occasionally about jazz, poetry, literary writings and the like, but this went beyond the pale. To be more specific, I was blown away. Since I wrote the poem in the wee hours of Christmas morning 2007, my mother’s final Christmas, it carried more sentiment than others. It’s a poem about perceiving and feeling the many facets of beauty that appear as we grow older. Michael felt that energy.
The outcome? That single post helped me sell an additional 60 copies of my then-new poetry and essay collection, The River Fed Stone. More significantly, it brought me about 100 new Facebook friends, many of them wonderful artists, writers, teachers, readers and filmmakers.
To all writers, I urge you to give shout-outs in your blogs and posts. It always comes back to you in ways that are personally gratifying and professionally beneficial — new friends, new conversation, an expanded base of readers, more book sales, and occasionally new business. Some of us may think we compete against each other, but to get on the shelves (and on e-book readers and tablets), our future wellbeing lies in collaborating with each other more deeply.
(P.S. As you may have noticed, I did some shouting out in this blog.)