More Blogs Than One

A year ago when I was waiting for my books to be published, I kept myself occupied with setting up a variety of blogs. I told myself I wanted to test blogging platforms so I could help my fellow authors pick the best one for their needs, but that wasn’t my excuse for setting up a bunch of WordPress blogs since I was already familiar with the site. The truth is, I became enamored with the custom colorizer, and ended up with five blogs, identical except for color.

The blue blog, this one — Bertram’s Blog — chronicles my struggles first to become a published writer and now to become a published selling writer. It was my original blog, and the one I still consider my blogging home.

The red blog, Pat Bertram Introduces, was intended to be an authors’ blog, where I introduced the writers I was coming to know via networking sites. When so many of them ignored my invitation to be a guest, I decided to turn it into a blog for interviewing my characters. (I’d forgotten that until just now. Never did introduce them!) To get the blog going, since at the time it was too soon to introduce my characters, I decided to introduce other writers’ characters. If you’d like me to introduce your character or characters, you can find the instructions on the Character Questionnaire page. At the very least, it’s a good way for you to get to know your own characters.

The purple blog, Book Marketing Floozy, was intended to be a blog to promote my books. I was talking (online, of course — that seems to be where my life is lived nowadays) to a fellow author about promotion, and she cautioned me against signing up for too many social networking sites. She said that I ran the risk of becoming a marketing floozy, just popping in to peddle my books, and then disappearing again. Since I’ve never been one to take advice, I signed up for several sites (though in the end, I did more or less take her advice — I spend most of my time on Facebook, Goodreads, and Gather.) And I started the Book Marketing Floozy blog — I decided that if I was going to be a book marketing floozy, then I should flaunt my flooziness. Again, since it was too early to start promoting my books, I started collecting articles about book marketing and promotion by different authors. The site is now indexed for easy reference, but there is no article about my books, though I did mention them in passing in one of the articles I wrote. Too bad. I did like the idea of being a book marketing floozy.

The yellow/orange blog, Dragon My Feet, was an import from Live Spaces. I set up a blog there using a gorgeous dragon template, and since I mostly talked about how I was procrastinating, I called it . . . You get the idea. So now I have a blog name that, while cute, really makes no sense. And the blog itself makes no sense. It’s become a dumping ground for any article that doesn’t fit with another of my blogs. I have guest articles that are too self-promotiony for Bertram’s Blog. I have a few of my attempts at reviewing books. I have photo essays. Checking out the blog just now, I notice that thirteen of the past fourteen posts are related to books in some way. Perhaps I should turn it into a book blog? But that would be work — finding guests, reading books and writing reviews — and I am inherently averse to work.

The green blog, Wayword Wind, is a poor, loveless thing that sits there getting greener by the moment because of all the moss it’s gathering. I have not posted a single bloggery because I have never quite figured out what to do with it. I planned to post articles about the various themes and research in my novels, but alas, I can’t think of anything to say that isn’t already in the books. I should have talked about the swine flu and how it tied into A Spark of Heavenly Fire, but I didn’t. I could talk about the twelfth planet and the various conspiracy theories I mention in my upcoming book Light Bringer, but I won’t. Been there. Done that. At one time I thought of posting quotes and then giving a commentary, but I really don’t have much to say on any subject except writing. I discovered this recently when I started yet another blog simply because I like the WordPress theme. (Do you see a pattern here?) I call it The Mind of Pat Bertram, but since I seldom post to it, you can see how little is actually on my mind. Then I thought of turning Wayword Wind into a blog for posting my progress with Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way program, but since I haven’t actually been doing the program, it fits more with Dragon My Feet. Because of the way I spelled wayword, it seems the blog should be about writing, but I already have a blog about writing.

So, here’s my conundrum. It’s not as crucial as the one that haunts me about how to promote my books, but it is a niggling one. I have a blank blog!!!!! What do I do with it?

(The title of this article was once used in reference to me by Lisa Brackmann, author of the soon-to-be-released Rock Paper Tiger.)

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A Writer’s Life (Guest Blog by Bestselling Author Michael Palmer)

I asked bestselling author Michael Palmer if he’d like to be a guest on my blog, and he graciously consented. (You can see an expurgated version of our email conversation here.) Need I say how thrilled I am? Most thrilling of all, instead of sending me an article he’d posted elsewhere, he wrote this piece especially for the readers of Bertram’s Blog. Please join me in welcoming Michael Palmer to the blogosphere.

I want to thank pat for inviting me to be a guest blogger……I will be writing the way I write e-mails and get out of creator’s block-relaxed with no consistent punctuation, no caps unless I feel like it…..what pops into my head is what you get

I tried blogging once-three times, actually, on amazon when I was pushing the first patient…..it felt like I was better off working on my book…..it’s a little like the hallowed book tour…..i could never figure those out……so much money, so little exposure (in some cities I have been to, the books weren’t in any stores)……it used to be you could combine a signing with a day of media work, but the papers aren’t all that interested any more (even in a fine fellow like me, with 13 NY times best sellers and a job taking care of doctors with drug and alcohol problems)……there are very few talk radio shows (I used to bop into a studio and talk with the host for an hour, even two-that was my favorite)…..the TV shows like good morning Cleveland are mostly gone……so on recent tours, I hit a town, stay in the best hotels, and spend the whole day before an evening signing racing (with an escort) from store to store, pounding flesh like a desperate politician and doing everything short of standing in front of a barnes & noble yelling “puleeeeeese buy my book!!!!”)……then, comes the signing-15 – 115 depending on how aggressive the events people are (often “kids” on their first job)….. now don’t get me wrong…..i’m incredibly grateful for what my publishers and the industry and the booksellers and the readers have given me……I live in the big house on the hill and love it up here (there, I said it and I’m glad) but I am also a realist……book tours are done many times because the publishers are afraid to tell their big ticket authors that there isn’t going to be one…..

It is always a painful moment for me when a new author excitedly says to me that they have their first book coming out and “what can I do to get people to buy it??……first I tell them to sit down, that they’re not going to enjoy what I have to say……then I tell them: THE ONLY THING YOU CAN REALLY DO THAT WILL HELP SELL YOUR BOOK IS TO WRITE ANOTHER BOOK……authors do from time to time catch lightning in a bottle—but mostly it’s a matter of improving your skill, learning from your mistakes, and producing……

For my February release, the second opinion, I will not be going away from home…..a signing in Nashua, new Hampshire (I’ll be there on 2/20/09) or at the boston public library (3/3/09 – reception and talk open to the public) is really no different than a sweep through Denver (pray it doesn’t snow) or Nashville or Miami……there are so many cities……publishers budget funds for each book, and when those are gone, no more publicity…..would I rather have a two week tour away from my kid and word processor and favorite pillow, or a full page ad in the times??…..you can answer that one……often it’s either or, though not necessarily on the same scale……

So, I’m a writer, and I’m best off writing and “performing” locally……if I were more disciplined and less exhausted all the time, I suppose I could blog……but I would never be as good at it as JA Konrath or my friend Tess Gerritsen, who are both consistent and incredibly entertaining……

Writing books isn’t just about writing books…..the demands on our time are incredible even without book tours…..i have already apologized to pat a number of times for not getting this piece in to her…..in addition, I have just finished a piece for the hundred greatest thrillers of all time, and am on a rewrite of a serial thriller I’m doing a chapter in for charity with one more due in january…..then there’s the six advanced reading copies on my floor awaiting readings, talks scheduled at the local middle school (I never say no to schools) and also the senior citizens center (I don’t say no to seniors either) and more blurbs, with anywhere from 3-8 ARCs coming in each month (I’m a wicked slow reader)……finally, there’s my kid, and my increasing need for exercise, and a hobby or two, and the holidays, and oh, yes, the pressure and deadlines inherent in my new 4-books in 4-years contract……(write fast and steadily or prepare not to be paid…..

So look for me right here at my desk, and not on the road…..

I love traveling and meeting people and staying at **** hotels (the norm on tour), and eating at the restaurant of my choice, and cleaning out room service, and being treated as something of a celebrity……but, as it has been said many times in one form or another….WRITERS DON’T LIKE WRITING BOOKS, THEY LIKE HAVING WRITTEN THEM…..

Back to work

Have a great day…..

michael