Friday, March 18, 2011

Media; social or anti-social / Warning: may be caustic

I've been trying to sort my thoughts on the subject of social media and what it can mean for the aspiring authors among us. After following trend after trend for a time, I'm not sure but what it's a conspiracy to trap all us wannabees while leaving the true path clear for cany writers who know better.
Let me explain my position. Several years ago I joined an up and coming online group. Early on, they had a couple hundred members and were growing as so-called chick lit gained popularity. Within a year they'd grown to over eight hundred and still going up.
It seemed to be the place for those of us who dared challenge Bridget Jones' Diary or one of the few successful stories of that season. And there were many challengers! A few of whom could actually write. The 'genre' was deluged with wannabees and the whole thing began to show signs of cracking. Hence, "Is chick-lit dead?" became the question of the day.
I noted during the 'rise and fall of chick-lit' that many writers more or less disappeared from the scene. Later, after the online group changed its name and its membership shrank to a workable number, many of those who'd gone awol began to show up again. On the cover of books they'd written while the rest were still scrambling over one another for attention. I'm pleased to say the group is still going strong, though now mostly a posting site for accomplishments and serious writerly questions.
On to facebook, twitter, pitter-patter, and so on as nauseum. Nowadays, we have a crowd of wannabees who swarm whatever media presents a modicum of success in attracting 'readers'.
I remember well what happened in my high school, enough years ago it would shock you, when we all wanted to stand out but we wanted to do it together. Talk about tempest in a teapot! Ah, but there is yet beauty in the beast. Just ask those 'chick-litters' who spent their time writing rather than 'connecting' and are now reaping the reward of their quiet industry.
Wonder why most/all true writers tend to be somewhat anti-social? Loners? Willing to wall themselves away from everybody for days or weeks at a time? To go without declared 'success' for years? To put aside worries about being popular as they craft their reader-grabbing tales?
Remember, the media we most need is in the promotion of our efforts to: wait for it! READERS!
That's my take. What's yours?
Now for the weekly excerpt from SLEEPING WITH HER ENEMY:

After a night of fitful sleep, Ana awoke to one certainty. She had to know for sure whether Dan was innocent or guilty. He meant too much to her to cut their relationship off like this. And as for Sherry, there was no way she could leave the girl wondering if her father had done something so terrible.
The Larimer County Sheriff’s office would be the place to start. It had happened in the city but since she’d found the car in the county, she dialed that number. Before the call was answered, she considered putting the phone down, but didn’t. What if he were innocent? What if he were guilty? Surely they would find a good explanation.
The dispatcher listened patiently while she explained what she’d found and why it might be relevant. After a long wait on hold, the sheriff came online. “This is Sheriff Clayton, Mrs. Henry. You think you found the car that ran over your son?”
“I don’t know. I hope I’m wrong, but the damage is right where it would have been and the car is identical to the one I saw that day.”
“Well, there are a lot of cars on the front range that probably match the car in question. Any thing in particular that makes this one stand out?”
“You mean, like flecks of dried blood on the car beside the destroyed headlight?”
“How can you be sure it’s blood?”
“Sheriff, I’m an experienced RN. I know blood when I see it, even months old dried blood.”
“Okay, lady. Sorry, but I had to ask. Guess it won’t hurt to check it out.”
“I’m not at all sure it won’t hurt. The owner of the car is a good friend of mine, a very good friend.” Her words made her want to cry. “Well, he has been until now.”
“Let me run this by the Fort Collins people that worked the case and I’ll get back to you. What is your number at home?”
She repeated it for him. “You’ll call today? I have to work second shift at the hospital tonight.”
“I’ll call back within the hour. If you’re right, we may be able to put one of our cold cases to rest.”
The man’s brusque manner didn’t set well with Ana. “I’ll expect your call.” She hung up just before her sobs of anguish echoed off the walls of her home.
Thirty minutes later, she was still sitting at the desk when the phone rang. The sheriff said, “Okay, Mrs. Henry. I’ve got the file in front of me now. We’re going up there to check out this car. Will there be anyone up there, do you know?”
“I don’t think so. Dan—Mr. Morrison works in Wellington and his daughter spends the day with her babysitter.”
“Would you like to be there when we check it out?”
It was an unusual request, she knew. Cops notoriously did not want civilians getting in the way. “Are you sure you want me there?”
He chuckled. “Actually, it’s the Fort Collins detective that worked the case who wants you there. You must have made quite an impression on him.”
She remembered the big bulldog who’d shepherded her through the torture of her son’s death. He was gruff but also a decent man. “You mean Detective Albers? Will he be there?”
“Yes. The city and county work together as much as possible on cases like this. What do you think?”
“I think wild horses couldn’t keep me away. Should I drive myself?”
“That—or we could pick you up and take you.”
“I think I’d like that. Don’t think me flighty or emotional, but if it is the car that killed my son, I’m not sure I could drive back down those curves safely.”
The trip up the canyon had been fast. Too fast, but Ana realized these guys were accustomed to the territory. The familiar detective, who’d been standing beside his car waiting for them, recognized her and waved when they pulled up.
“Hi, Mrs. Henry. How are you?”
“I’m fine, Bill. I guess. This business has me pretty rattled.” She preferred not to say how rattled.
“How in the world did you come upon the car?”
“It’s a long story. Wild coincidence, really. The man who lives here brought his daughter into the hospital for treatment one night recently. I got acquainted with them and he invited me to visit. While I was up here, his daughter showed it to me.”
Sheriff Clayton cleared his throat. “Where’s the car, ma’am?”
She led them around to the shed and pulled the door open, and reached in for the light switch. The car was there, just as it had been the day before, but when the men worked their way to the front, the metal was clean and shiny. Clayton spoke. “I see the broken headlight and the dent in the hood. Where’s the blood, ma’am?”
“I—I don’t know. Isn’t it there? It was definitely there yesterday.”
She scooted up and pointed to the area where the flecks had been. Obviously, Dan had cleaned it up before heading for work. “I’m sorry. I guess he washed it off.”
Albers laughed. “I’ll bet he did, especially if this is the perp’s car that did the deed. Washing it won’t do him any good.”
“Yep. Forensics will find it if it was there.”
She gawked at his smiling face. “But it’s gone.”
Clayton interrupted. “Not really. Let’s get out of the way while our people work.”
Fifteen minutes later, the forensics team emerged from the shed, smiling. “We got it,” the blonde woman said, holding up a swab that glistened red.
“What did I tell you?” Bill Albers patted her on the shoulder. “Now, we’ll have to take the evidence in to compare it with our files. If it’s a match to your boy, this guy’s in serious trouble.”

There you have it, folks. Three in the can and three to go. I hope reading these will whet your appetite for the book, which is to be released in three weeks time. Til next week, happy reading!
Pat Dale


  1. Having been hanging out on the Net since 2000, I've seen quite a change. What used to be chatty loops with readers abounding have now become endless scrolling of excerpts, book release announcements and blog appearances. Most of the people I met as readers are now authors, too. The competition continues to grow and ideas that once worked no longer do because we're drowning a sea of authors. :)

  2. Bingo, Ginger! My point exactly, and why I don't put too much emphasis on social media.

  3. I've had to get off several online lists to have more time for writing. I also recently put my Facebook account on hold.
    I do get a little tired of all the promotional stuff. Shouldn't we be reaching out to readers, not other writers? I was on a great group for a while and then POOF they disbanded over some in-fightng between two of the members. I guess I was foolish enough to think we'd be more generous and respectful online, but I guess not. I try to just write and not think too much about the other stuff. There's enough craziness going on around us in the world, that that's a good bet 4 me!

  4. Okay, I have my doubts about all the time I spend "promoting" to authors and not readers too. I am a newbie at this. I have no idea what works or doesn't. It's a learning process and always changing, I'm sure. Thanks for sharing the excerpt. Looking forward to the book release!

  5. Great blog. I have been a bit quite altely due to family things, but I am starting to wonder whether belonging to a lot of groups is productive promotion wise. I seem to meet up with the same people, (namely writers) no matter where I go.



  6. Thanks to all of you who commented and the ones who read but did not comment. I appreciate your take on the social media situation. I just wish there were a better way to reach readers. But we do our best and let the results speak for themselves. Cheers,