Blogging with Shannon Messenger

I’ve ran across a lot of really awesome people, and culled an enormous amount of information from blogs. As I raided my brain – yes, I picture myself on the prow of a Viking ship, approaching my own gray matter – for more people I’d like to interview, it repeatedly offered up names of bloggers. And so, the third series; Bloggers of Awesome. Yeah, it’s the BOA.

Today's BOA guest is my fellow Lucky13 and Friday the Thirteeners member Shannon Messenger! Shannon has not one but TWO books coming out soon... as in, one week for her MG title KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES. Her YA paranormal romance, LET THE SKY FALL, will be coming March 5, 2013. I've had the luck to read LTSF, and those of you with heart strings are in for it!

So you run an excellent blog over at Ramblings of A Wannabe Scribe. What made you decide to take the approach you do on your blog?

Aw. *blush* THANK YOU! And honestly, it’s funny. I don’t know that I have an “approach” to my blog. I’m just me. Whether that’s rambling about cupcakes, confessing to recent writing struggles, whining about deadlines, or gushing about books/authors I love, I’m just 100% Shannon, because that’s the only way I know how to be.

I know a lot of aspiring writers who are intimidated by the idea of blogging. They want to, but they are worried it will cut into their (already precious) writing time. You're a prolific blogger - how do you recommend one be both a successful blogger and writer?

Well, first I want to say that I don’t think anyone should blog because they feel like they “should.” If you don’t enjoy it—or are too busy for it—don’t do it. People will be able to tell by your posts that you aren’t having fun. I happen to really enjoy blogging, so I don’t mind the time that it takes. Plus, I’ve learned that if deadlines are piling up or life is getting crazy, it’s okay to miss some posts until I catch up. My followers will still be there when I come back. The rest of the time I try to keep my posts as short as I possibly can and write them the day before, so I can schedule them to post in the morning without having to get up early.

What is your genre, and what led you to it? Does your genre influence the style of your blog?

Um… I’m not entirely sure what you mean by genre (sorry, I am SO jet-lagged right now!) My blog itself doesn’t really have a genre. It’s pretty much just there for whatever I want to post about though I TRY to keep it mostly books/writing related. And part of the reason I keep it more generic like that is because I write two very different series in two very different age categories, so my posts need to appeal to readers of either.

It looks like you’re a big reader - do you set aside time for that?

YES—I think it’s absolutely essential for any writer to be a prolific reader, and I do my best to keep up with the new releases so that I stay current with what’s “out there.” When I’m not on deadline I aim to read 1-2 books per week. And when I am on deadline I’ll still sneak a few chapters here and there—but I’ll only read books in the age category I’m working on, otherwise it messes with my head as I write.

You do a lot of reviews. Have you ever given a bad review? Why or why not?

Personally I feel that—as an author—it’s not my place to negatively criticize the work of my colleagues. So no, I’ve never given a bad review. But that doesn’t mean I don’t still have review standards. My review policy always has and always will be: if I love a book I will gush and rave and champion it to the world. If I don’t love it, I quietly set it aside and say nothing. So there are many books I read that don’t end up getting featured. I only feature something if I genuinely recommend it.

Do you think blogging is a helpful self-marketing tool?

Yes and no. I do think it helps—but I don’t know that it helps as much as we’d all like it to. And what I mean by that is, I have over 2000 followers, and almost as many subscribers—but I would never expect that to lead to a comparable number of book sales. I think the real value of blogging comes from the connections you can make from it. I found my critique partners and most of my closest writing friends through the blogosphere, and having people to turn to when I’m buried with deadlines or have questions about publishing or need someone to talk me off the ledge is absolutely priceless.

What other websites / resources can you recommend for writers?

Eek, that’s hard because there are so many amazing ones. But I still think the best is Nathan Bransford. As an author and a former literary agent he’s seen publishing from all sides and has some truly amazing advice. It’s the best place for any newbie to start.

Any words of inspiration for aspiring writers?

KEEP WRITING! Rejections and discouragement happen to everyone in this business, and I firmly, firmly believe that the only differences between an aspiring writer and a published author are time and perseverance. Keep going and you will get there eventually—I promise.