BIT Is Awesome And Here’s Why

candy heartOh, back up a bit? What’s BIT? Boost It Tuesday!

Every Free Chance, Candace’s Book Blog*, and If These Books Could Talk are the main organizers and hosts of the weekly awesomeness. Every Tuesday, they post a link-up (powered by InLinkz**) and invite book people — both authors and book bloggers — to add their Facebook pages. The idea is that everyone who participates goes to every other Facebook page on the list to “like” and comment on at least two or three posts, to help “boost” the pages’ visibility (since Facebook shows “popular” posts to more people).

This is my second week doing it. Here are five reasons why it’s awesome:

I’ve discovered a whole bunch of fun book blogs and authors I didn’t know about before.

It’s incentive to pay attention to my Facebook page and make sure there’s new content for BIT visitors to boost.

I can look at other authors’ social media strategies and see what appeals to me.

There are some fabulous giveaways to enter.

I feel like I’m helping other authors and book bloggers by boosting their stuff. Good karma.

It’s so positive! Everyone is there to say “Happy BIT” and click the like button. ALL the warm fuzzies!

If this sounds interesting, and you have a book-related Facebook page (not profile), go visit one of the hosts’ websites to join in. As I learned last week, Tuesday night or even Wednesday isn’t too late, and if this week doesn’t work for you, there’s always next week.

Also, there’s a giveaway every week as part of Boost It Tuesday, and you can apply to host the BIT giveaway on your own page (go visit one of the hosts’ sites to find the sign-up form).

So basically it’s all win-win and there’s no downside, only the time it takes to click on a bunch of Facebook pages and say hello — and it’s totally okay to spread that out over the week, you don’t have to get it all done on Tuesday. And really, looking at book covers and teaser graphics, and entering giveaways, and reading reviews and blurbs… it’s not what you’d call painful, you know?

Again, for convenience, the BIT organizers’ websites are: Every Free Chance, Candace’s Book Blog*, and If These Books Could Talk.

Give it a try, and have fun. Maybe I’ll see you on the link-up?

*no longer active as of early 2017 (dead links removed)
**BIT is now using Linky Tools rather than InLinkz

Forever On My Bookshelf

A few weeks ago, there was a meme going around Facebook: “List 10 books that have stayed with you. Don’t think too hard about it — they just have to be books that touched you.” And I played along, because BOOKS, right?! But Facebook posts slide down the timeline and essentially disappear, so I’m making a note of the ten books I chose here, and adding a little what’s-special-about-them too. These are in no particular order of importance, but only the order in which they came to my mind as I set out to make the list.

1) Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey — this book was, I think, the first adult speculative fiction novel I ever read; I was probably fourteen or so (can’t remember the exact year), and my uncle gave Dragonflight to me for Christmas, opening my eyes to a world beyond children’s literature and the school library’s painfully appropriate-for-our-students YA selection. Also, telepathic ride-able beautiful dragons — I still want one.

2) Outlander by Diana Gabaldon — this book opened my eyes to the idea that genres don’t have to fit into narrow pockets; it’s a rich blend of romance and historical fiction and fantasy, and it’s hard proof that a book (or series!) doesn’t have to be easily describable or fall neatly into a bookstore category to have a huge fan following and be madly appealing. Also, men in kilts.

3) Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey — this book pushed my comfort boundaries with its BSDM component and people-as-property and sex-without-love and sex-for-money, while being so compellingly written that I couldn’t put it down; the world of Terre D’Ange is so rich and fully developed that I was able to accept and absorb the uncomfortable elements as being part of that world. Also, Joscelin Verreuil.

4) Rivals by Jilly Cooper — this book is my favourite of all Jilly Cooper’s Rutshire Chronicles, because of Rupert & Taggie, but all of them together showed me that romance doesn’t require a straightforward plot with one obvious hero; it can be complicated, with multiple side plots, and the characters can fall in and out of bed and love with the wrong or right partners along the way, as long as everything ends up all right. Also, horses and television studios.

5) Flambards by K.M. Peyton — this book might possibly be the first “complicated” love story I fell in love with as a teenager; the characters face real challenges of social class and poverty and powerlessness and family conflict and war, and the emotional arcs and relationships are delicately and subtly handled… and it holds up well to re-reading at various ages and stages, so it’s not just for YA fans. Also, early 20th century setting (a favourite era) and history of airflight.

6) Friday by Robert A. Heinlein — many years ago, this book offered my first exposure to a protagonist with non-traditional relationship choices; the political and moral values aren’t perfect, but I’ll always cherish Friday because it was the first novel to take me beyond heteronormative monogamy for the major characters (rather than just token supporting characters). Also, a ninja-superhero-spy heroine with a secret bellybutton courier pocket.

7) Tam Lin by Pamela Dean — to me, this book is the quintessential college/university novel; it so exquisitely captures life in residence, higher-education bureaucracy, and the experience of academic and social exploration (with some dark urban fantasy elements thrown in for spice). Also, rich allusions to so much literature — I spot more every time I re-read it.

8 ) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen — this book is a classic, for good reason; it has everything I want from a romance (the need to overcome one’s own genuine flaws and society’s obstacles, an external problem that truly threatens to derail everything, side plots and fully developed supporting characters so it’s not too linear, plus a beautifully romantic ending) and it has stood the test of time. Also, Mr. Darcy.

9) Complications by Atul Gawande — this book taught me that books aren’t only for fiction or school; I’ve always been a huge fiction reader, but when I was stuck with nothing to read (in a time before e-books and instant downloading) and borrowed this fascinating collection of essays off my doctor brother’s bookshelf, I discovered a taste for medical and scientific non-fiction which opened windows into hospitals and laboratories for me. Also, awesome prose.

10) Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome — this book (and the series that follows it) epitomizes childhood adventure for me; there’s a character for every child to identify with (I was never sure whether I wanted to be artistic dreamer Titty Walker or pirate captain Nancy Blackett) and a smooth blend of realistic and imaginative elements to their camping and sailing excursions. Also, the food — bunloaf, seed cake, buttered eggs, pies, chocolate…

It would be so easy to over-think this list, to go back and say, “Oh, maybe Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild was a more influential children’s book for me than Swallows and Amazons, and maybe I should have put Riders as my Jilly Cooper choice since it’s first in the series, and should I have picked Chris Hadfield’s An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth as my representative bit of non-fiction?”

But I won’t do that. This was my list of ten as they first came to mind, and they’ll be forever on my bookshelf.

Having Profiles All Over

So it seems that we’re expected to have profiles all over the place, for this and that. I seriously think I could spend all my time updating here and there, if I tried to do them all, and I’d never actually get to writing. No, thank you.

But for a writer, it’s apparently important to be out there — to be findable, to have a presence. Mind you, I’m not really at that stage yet, since I’ve only recently had my first acceptance for a print anthology, and the only story I’d previously had published was in an online magazine which has sadly since gone dark (the excellent 10Flash, which was edited by K.C. Ball). Still, presence. How do you do that and stay sane? It’s about all I can manage to blog occasionally and post the odd remark on Twitter or Facebook, maybe go +1 a few things on G+ if I’m feeling energetic.

So today I stumbled across something called about.mehere’s my brand-new profile — and decided to give it a go. Why? Because it’s essentially static. See, it struck me that the answer might be found in many static points of contact leading to a few active places. So wants a teeny chunk of setup effort, and then it’s done. I don’t even have to go back there and log in.

I don’t have any published books to promote yet, but I’m betting author profiles on social reading sites can work the same way. Not user profiles, because that’s just as much work as having another Facebook or Twitter account to update, but the author profile thing. From what I can tell, it only makes sense to smarten up your author profiles wherever they can be found (like Shelfari and LibraryThing and Goodreads) because they look so blank and unappealing when they haven’t been done. Someday when I have books for sale, I am totally going to make sure my author profiles on those sites look sparkly and cared-for, and they’ll point readers right here to where I already am.