The Dirty Truth about Blogging

The article below was originally written for the author newsletter at Discovery House, the publishing house where I am employed. Though the audience for the piece was originally published authors, other writers may be interested in it too. So I’m putting it here.

dirty_truth

As a marketing manager, I know what I’m supposed to say about author blogs. I’m supposed to tell you that blogging is a great, easy way to hook new readers and convince them to buy your book. But here’s the dirty truth: Blogging is hard.

It is hard to juggle writing books (which are meant to last forever on someone’s bookshelf) with writing blog posts (which are old as soon as they are published). It is hard to think of a new topic or fresh angle for each post. It is hard to be consistent when the schedules of our non-writing lives refuse to stay the same. Blogging is just hard to do.

Here’s what two Discovery House authors have to say on the topic:

“When I first started blogging, I tried to keep up with devotionals on a semi-deep level every single day. It drained me of words. It’s hard to exactly explain, but I found it hard to even talk/chat in my everyday life because I had spent myself keeping up with the blogging.” –Heather King, author of Ask Me Anything, Lord

“Blogging is draining and sucks what little writing time I have right down the tubes. And it makes me cranky. I think a lot of people are over-blogged. How much information can we really keep up with these days?” –Jessie Clemence, author of If I Plug My Ears, God Can’t Tell Me What to Do

And yet…

Blogging can be rewarding too. After all, hard things are often those most worth doing. Blogging reinforces the habit of writing. It can breed community. It can stimulate creativity. It can tell us what issues hit home with readers.

Per Heather and Jessie:

“Since I blog along the same vein as what I write book-wise, I had to find a balance. I blog 3 times a week now, with the heavier devotionals 2 of those days and that content helps me find thoughts/content/words for the books. I take those blog posts as jumping-off points for book content.

“I also think if I can find the posts that connect with readers in a big way, it helps keep my book-writing more relevant (at least that’s the hope!).” –Heather King, author of Ask Me Anything, Lord

“I keep blogging because it does give me consistent practice at writing. It also keeps the website fresh and then gives people a reason to check in and remember I’m alive. When my posts are shared it can bring in brand new readers, who then see a picture of the latest cover as they peruse.

“It makes me less cranky to think of the blog as a way to connect with readers.” –Jessie Clemence, author of If I Plug My Ears, God Can’t Tell Me What to Do

Blogging is hard, but when approached in a balanced way, it can work with your writing instead of against it. Do you think you might be ready for the challenge?

If so, remember the 3 Rules of Blogging:

  1. Be Consistent – It doesn’t matter whether you post new content every day, three times a week, or twice a month, as long as your readers know when they can expect new content from you (and you can deliver it).
  2. Be Brief (or Epic) – People usually read posts that are 400 words or less. Also, people read posts that are over 1,000 words. Avoid the middle ground. Go for short and sweet or give them a full meal.
  3. Be Yourself – People are coming to your blog to read your writing. Maybe they have read one of your books and care about the same things that you do. Maybe they stumbled onto you blog accidentally. Either way, you have an opportunity to show them that you are a writer worth investing in.

Happy Blogging!

My Halloween Present

This past Friday, I got to get out of work a bit early so I could pick up the girls from Grandma’s daycare to visit my wife where she works.

The company that my wife works for goes all out for holidays, and Halloween is no exception. Every department was given money to decorate their area in spooky decor and buy candy to hand out. And then from 3pm to 5pm, workers were encouraged to bring their kids in costume through the haunted halls to each office, cubicle, and workstation to trick-or-treat, where the costumed staff would hand out candy. Some departments were even giving out full-size candy bars.

I love where my wife works.

Not just because of the candy that we got (that my two-year-old isn’t going to eat by herself), but because they really seem to value family. This was our daughter’s first Halloween where she participated in some way, and though it wasn’t a huge thing, it was a special way to spend an afternoon together.

We learned a few things too: Our oldest might be afraid of giant bananas. She is definitely afraid of people in alien masks. But she is even more afraid of the semi-trucks that were driving in and out of the shipping department as we walked into the building.

Now, let me tell you about the costume. In accordance with the challenge issued by my friend Jessie Clemence over on her blog, my wife and I chose to make a costume for our daughter for under $5.00. My original thought was to make a book costume modeled after one of her favorite board books, but we didn’t have the time to pull if off well. My second thought was to somehow use one or more of the many, many baby shower gift bags that we’ve been hanging onto for far too long. When I told this idea to my wife, she told me that she was thinking along the same lines.

So, we made our daughter into a present for Halloween at a total cost of zilch. We found an appropriately sized bag, cut a hole in the bottom for her legs, had her put her arms through the handles and tied the handles together with a ribbon behind her back so she wouldn’t be able to take it off. For finishing touches, we stuffed tissue paper around her (and I was surprised that she didn’t even try to remove it). She even carried around another smaller gift bag to use for collecting candy.

Look at how happy she is!

And for anyone concerned that little sister didn’t get to participate, she did. But since her costume is essentially a pair of fuzzy pajamas with ears on the hood and required absolutely no effort on our part, it might be considered cheating as far as Halloween costumes are concerned. Also, she’s 3-months-old and has no concept of holidays yet.

Anyway, here’s wishing you and yours a happy and safe Halloween!

I humbly accept…

Jodi Picoult

There’s that unwritten schism that literary writers get all the awards and commercial writers get all the success.

– Jodi Picoult, Author of 18 novels

According to this quote by Jodi Picoult, I have become a literary blogger as of late. In the last few weeks, I’ve been nominated for a few blogging awards, which I think is just wonderful, because I’m a person who appreciates appreciation.

Also, it is nice to know that I’m not simply writing into the void.

My thanks go to the people who nominated me:

According to the rules of these awards, I’m supposed to say 7 things about myself and then nominate 15 other people for each award. I’ll give you the 7 things, but the 15 other blogs seems a bit chain-letter-y, so I’ll just list some awesome blogs without keeping too close a track on numbers. For the people who do find their links here, take your pick of these awards and tell your friends that you got it here.

7 Things about Josh Mosey

  1. I am happily married (sorry ladies!)to the most beautiful, smart, and hardworking woman in the world (sorry men!).
  2. I took a class in college where I learned how to tie knots and juggle.
  3. I am the founding president of the Valhalla Norwegian Society.
  4. I have more hair on the underside of my arms than most people.
  5. In high school, I helped a non-existent student run for class office, and though he did not win, he beat one of the more popular girls from school.
  6. I have never been afraid to make a fool of myself.
  7. I am afraid of fish.

There you go. The dirty truths come out.

Here are some links.

Some are writers, others are religiously themed. Be sure to visit them all, because they are all quite good.

As it turns out, I came up with 15 links after all, but that was only by happenstance. These are the blogs that I make it a point to read as often as they put new content up.

Thanks again to the folks who nominated me, and thanks to everyone who reads my blog. I honestly didn’t think I’d be able to keep it going for this long.

I am a husband. Part II

A while back, I was inspired by a series of posts that Jessie Clemence had done on her blog and I interviewed my wife. That interview has proven to be one of my most popular posts over time, which makes sense, because my wife makes everything better.

Well, anyway, she and I were chatting about ideas for blog posts and she asked if I would consent to her interviewing me. I did. Here are her questions and my answers.

What are you looking forward to most about being a father of two?

I love being a parent and seeing you (my wife) as a parent. Our daughter is simply adorable and I can’t wait to see another little girl who is half me and half you (my wife again). Also, I’m looking forward to seeing how Adie is with her sister.

What other hobbies do you have besides writing?

I collect Lego sets, specifically the viking, adventure, and castle sets. Though I just saw some Lord of the Rings themed sets that make me want to eat my words about how I hate that Lego is going after franchises. I also collect Dr Pepper knock-offs (the regional drinks that try their best to be Dr Pepper without coming anywhere close). My favorite is probably Doctor by the Our Family brand, because it didn’t even bother to come up with a replacement for Pepper like Dr. Thunder, Dr. Nehi, and Dr. M did. Plus, I am a fan of the show Doctor Who, who also goes by simply, the Doctor.

What is something that you do that gives you personal satisfaction or makes you proud?

I am a sucker for praise, especially of any of my creative endeavors. I know that I should care less or not at all what other people think about stuff, but I also know that I’m a born people-pleaser, and it makes me happy to make other people happy. If I can create a thing that gives joy, it will give me joy. It is probably strange then that one of my novels is dystopian and doesn’t end happily. I guess I’m complicated.

If you could be any character from your novels or short stories, which would you be? Why?

I would love to be Tom, the invisible roommate of my Thom & Tom series. He’s such a goofball and doesn’t care what people think about him. He lives by his own rules and whether he intends to or not, brings a bit of joy to his roommate, Thom. Also, he’s invisible, so that’s pretty cool.

If you could make any book you’ve read reality, what would you choose?

I love the idea that M. I. McAllister’s Mistmantle series could be happening for real somewhere, that there could really be an island of chivalrous squirrels, playful otter, bustling hedgehogs, and hardworking moles living in harmony. Plus, many of my other favorite books have some pretty scary bits that I would hate to see in reality.

What is it that, in your opinion, makes you so incredibly awesome?

My wife. She’s the awesome one. You were probably just thinking of her. I don’t blame you. I like to think of her too.

If you could have a super power, which would you choose? Would you let people know about your power or use a secret identity?

I would like the ability to transform one kind of substance into another kind of substance, like iron into gold, or dirt into gasoline. I would be called “The Alchemist”. Unless I had some kind of invincibility that went along with my other powers, I would keep my identity secret. I have a feeling that I wouldn’t be safe otherwise. Plus, my family would always be in danger of being kidnapped for ransom and such. So yeah, a secret identity would be good. I’m not sure how I’d fight crime, but I bet I could give more to charity, and that’s like the same thing.

Do you have a guilty pleasure? What is it?

I very much enjoy the game Diablo II. I know that Diablo III just came out, and someday I’m sure we’ll get it, but at the moment, I don’t know when we’d play.

Do you think watching TV can help or hurt your writing and level of creativity?

I’m a bit torn on this question. I was a the quintessential couch potato growing up, and I consumed a lot of television. As a result, I learned a lot about how stories are put together and about characters that I enjoyed. I would come up with stories and drawings based on what I had seen on television. Today, I watch a couple of shows every few weeks, but I don’t have time for much more. If I were as addicted to television now as I was when I was growing up, I know that my writing would suffer, but more due to the time constraints than to being dumbed down by TV.

What is one things that never fails to make you laugh?

Juvenile bodily functions. Every time.

What is your favorite book of all time?

I have to pick just one? Probably The Hobbit, because of its unique point of view. Not many books can pull off a third person story told by a first person narrator with second person asides.

If you could only use 4 words to describe yourself, what would they be?

Married, Genial, Creative, Inquisitive

What is the best part of being my husband?

The best part is the fact that I don’t have to leave you at the end of the date anymore. When we were dating, I hated going home. Now your home is my home. As far as specifically be married to you though, I love that you are good at things like math and budgets, and that I know I can trust you will all areas of life.

Didn’t my wife ask a bunch of well-thought-out, wonderful questions? I’m starting to think that she should be the one with the blog.

I am a husband.

I love my wife more than old people love racism and talking about diseases.Let me be up front with you about something. I stole the idea for this post from a series of posts that Jessie Clemence did on her blog. Her interviews with her family (husband, daughter, son) made me smile and opened a window to her life that I hadn’t seen before (I knew Jessie and her husband when I was in college, but our paths split before they had kids).

I thought, “What a great idea! How hard could it be to interview your spouse?” So, I made  a list of questions and had my wife answer them. Here’s the result:

How long have we been together?

Not nearly long enough.  That being said, we had our first date 8 years, 2 months, and 16 days ago.  We have been married for 6 years, 8 months and 16 days, but as I said, not nearly long enough.

What are you reading now?

I am just about to finish Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford, which has kept my attention from the beginning of the winter school semester.  I have read the book about three pages at a time for almost five months, but even though it has stretched over a long time, it still kept me coming back for more whenever I had time to spare.

What is your favorite book?

This is a hard question because in every genre I have a favorite book. That being said, the book I have enjoyed for the longest amount of time is A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving.

What are your thoughts on your husband being a writer?

Honestly it depends on the day.  For most days, I am excited and supportive of your desire to do something you enjoy and I try to express that through my words and actions.  There are also occasional days were I become self focused and wonder why you must choose a hobby that is not only time-consuming but also solitary. On those days, I must remember your writing is not about me, but about you doing something that makes you happy.

You work full-time, raise a 1.5 year old, and are 7 months pregnant. You also just completed a master’s course in Accounting. Are you crazy?

No, let’s just say I have an incredible partner that makes all that possible.  I couldn’t do it without you babe.

What is the first thought that goes through your head when I say that I’m going off to write for a while?

Once again, this honestly depends on whether I have my attitude and focus where it belongs.  Given that I feel most loved by spending quality time together, leaving me to write isn’t the best way to say I love you.  So, whether I need an attitude adjustment or it is where it needs to be already, I need to remember that my joyfully letting you go is a good way to say I love you.

What is something that you want strangers to know about me?

Oh, the things I could share…

Do you have any advice for the spouses of writers?

Whether other spouses deal with this or not, maybe it’s just me, but I have to constantly remember it’s not about me, it’s about you.  That applies to all areas, at least in my opinion.

I love my wife.

I don’t know if you’ve read The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, but it spells out five ways that people feel most loved. There’s quality time, words of encouragement, gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. DeAnne and I read this book in our first year of marriage and it has really helped me understand how to make her feel loved. That said, her love language is quality time and mine is physical touch. When we are snuggling on the couch, both of our love tanks get filled.

But then I took up writing. Like she said in her answers, I write best when I can be focused entirely on my writing, so it is essentially a solitary thing. I try to choose times to write when it won’t affect our time together, times when she is either out of the house (her commute is about an hour longer than mine) or sleeping (I’m a night owl anyway), but there are still times when I get together with my writers’ group when I could be spending time with her.

That isn’t a good way to help my wife feel loved. Sometimes, this makes me feel like bad husband, like I am not giving her what she needs, like I am choosing my own desires over hers. And no matter how many times she insists that I go off and write, I feel that I am messing things up.

This past weekend, through the interview and other conversations that we had, she helped me understand that my writing time wasn’t really the issue. The real issue is that when I am spending time with her, it isn’t always quality time because my mind is still living in writing-land. We may be sitting on the couch together or playing with our daughter, but I’m not fully there because I’m thinking of the next scene in my novel or the blog post that I’m going to write.

Our time together isn’t quality when I’m letting other things come before her and marriage.

Now, I’m not going to quit writing. I think, for the most part, I’ve tried to limit the time that I spend writing when my wife is available. But I am going to try turning off the writing part of my brain when I’m with my wife. For me, my marriage comes first. I love you DeAnne Lynne Mosey!