The official blog of Susan Landis-Steward, writer of whatever she likes, and co-founder of Puddletown Publishing Group

Archive for the ‘Aliens Write’ Category

Today, I am a Thief!

That thing to your left, assuming you are facing the monitor and not doing something odd or impossible, is a synringa vulgaris. And it is mocking me.

I am married to a woman who thinks driving around exploring the countryside by tooling down rutted mud-filled roads in my car is fun. On one of her excursions, she found this lilac. The important thing about this lilac is the color. This picture, which is from wikimedia commons, does not do it justice.

The lilac she has been jonesing after for years is a deep dark cousin of this one. She’s tried to find it in nurseries, but it’s always disappointed her by being not-quite this color. They’ve all turned out to be, horrors, lavender.

So, she found this lilac, or one like it only darker, in one of her many excursions, and today, in the interest of distending my bladder just a bit further before taking me home, she had to go by and “visit” it.

The property it sits on is a) vacant and b) for sale. For $800,000. So I suggested she take cuttings. Aiding and abetting a crime is nowhere near as bad as committing it. So she pulled  MY car up so that MY window was right next to the damn thing and proceeded to coerce me into stealing branches off the lilac of her dreams. (Warning to all the lesbians out there: Never marry a butch wannabee.)

The evidence is now in a jar on top of the dishwasher waiting for us to go get rooting hormone. Mocking me, I say.

On the flip side, while searching for lilacs on wikimedia, I came across an entry for lilac-crowned Amazon. Thinking I’d find a Dianic goddess wearing nothing but a drooping crown of synringa vulgaris and a breastplate, I had to click. Instead, I found this.

That, my friends, is an Amazona finschi. Which has nothing to do with lilacs or Sapphic beauties. It’s just a parrot with a red forehead. And that’s what I learned today.

If you want to know more about lesbians and butch wannabees, you could read my book. Blind Leading the Blind, only $3.99 at Amazon and Barnes&Noble. Lesbians, mysteries, a blind woman, motorcycles, kids, horses, sex, belly dancers, what more could you want? (I didn’t say that. The parrot did.)

Buy the book! Squawk! Buy the book already! Written by a real-live thief! Squawk!

Social Marketing’s Dozen a Day

If you took piano lessons (or any other instrument, I think) back in the 50s and 60s, you might remember a book of finger exercises called The Daily Dozen. If you need to get more followers, and make more sales, you need to do your Social Marketing Daily Dozen.

1.  Find and follow five new people on Twitter every day. Then send out at least one content laden tweet every day. DO NOT SPAM SALES.

2.  Find a blog related to your genre and post a comment. Make sure you include your blog link or book link. Follow the blog if you like it. If you have time, step it up a bit and find three or five blogs a day.

3.  From Facebook, go to the search bar at the top of the FB page (in the blue part) and search for Networked Blogs. Join. This will cause your blog posts to go directly to your Twitter feed and FB page and will help drive traffic to your blog. This makes at least one tweet a day seamless in that your blog posts will go right to Twitter.

4. Blog. Well, unless you’re in some sort of campaign, carnival, blog tour, challenge, or other blog event, you don’t need to blog daily. Just blog regularly. Or do art. Whatever it is that you do.

5. Again on Facebook, join Fellow Writers. Check here daily. There are good contacts to be made, and most days there’s something you can do to get more followers or build more traffic. For example, today there is one thread for folks to follow each others blogs. Some days it’s FB author pages, some days it’s Twitter. Whatever it is, do it. You need tons of contacts to help you make sales.

6. Also on Fellow Writers, you can find people doing reviews, interviews, and other interesting things. Check them out. If you like what you see, ask to be included. If you like doing reviews yourself, join a blog tour. If you really like it, set yourself up to do reviews on a regular basis. Writers love reviewers. At least most of them do. And you get free books.

7. Use Google to find book reviewers who review the kind of thing you write. Ask them to review your books. If you have writing friends, ask them to do reviews for you and offer to do the same for them.

8. If you see a blog event (look up the ones in number 4 above) that sounds like fun, sign up. Several of us are doing the A to Z event. There are new ones starting every day, on all sorts of topics or with various activities. C’mon. It’s fun.

9. Join the Independent Authors Network (IAN).

10. Join Goodreads and get acquainted. There are all sorts of groups. Pick a few and join. Comment. Relate. Review. Get reviewed. Participate.

11. See if you can find anything useful on the Kindle Boards. Some people swear by them. They confuse me. But a friend told me I should try again so I will.

12.  Again on FB, join Novel Publicity. Lots of good pointers, some follower events like the ones in Fellow Writers. Plus, go to Novel Publicity’s website. Emlyn has lots of free information about social marketing and also sells some services. If social marketing is confusing you, she can help.
BONUS: If you belong to SCBWI, MWA, RWA, SinC or other writing organizations, let people know about your books, publisher, cover artist, whatever. Share your expertise. Ask for help. Get SOCIAL.

REMEMBER: It’s about building relationships, not just selling your books. Make new friends. Trust me. It’s fun.

NOTE: I’ve been putting my money where my mouth is and have been selling books regularly on Amazon, roughly 1 to 2 books a day. All total, I’ve sold about 50 books in two weeks. Not Amanda Hocking, but not bad for a beginner. And I write in a niche market that is only about 5 percent of the market. (I know it’s really 10 percent, but I figure at least half of that figure are men who aren’t buying lesbian mysteries.) So it does work.

B is for Brussel Sprouts

I bet some of you thought I’d say blogging. Or balloons. Or even boy. But, nope, today’s post is brought to you by my favorite vegetable.  Brussel sprouts are the only reason I tolerate winter. If anyone ever makes a year-round Brussel sprout cultivar, I’ll be one happy girl.

What does this have to do with writing? Well, for one thing, my day job, at least until the publishing company gets more than three months under its belt, is writing gardening articles. Which is really funny because I gave up gardening when I gave up men. A long time ago.

But I’m married to a woman who loves to garden and will probably drag me into the dirt sometime this spring. We seriously need to do something about our yard. We built this house two years ago, right on a creek, and the first year we flooded. So much for yard. The flood was a fluke, but it set us back a bit. Then last year we were invited to share sacred space with death as a dear friend died of cancer. Some work is just to precious to pass up.

So, maybe this year, there will be Brussel sprouts. And if there are, I’m going to make Brussel sprout chips. My friend Domenica gave me this recipe over Facebook last night. She makes them with kale but that sounds weird to me. But she assures me they are just as good with Brussel sprouts.

So, you peel off the leaves of the sprouts, wash them, and let them dry thoroughly. Then toss with some olive oil and salt. Bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees. Easy peasy. I guess you have to bake the innards a bit longer because there is a point beyond which you can de-leaf Brussel sprouts.

So, today’s post is brought to you by the letter B, the words bandolier, bongo, beanie, and bookkeeper, and the numbers billion and bazillion.

A is also for Alien

Some of you are wondering, or at least I hope you are, why I have all these alien posts. I have this thing for aliens. As a child, I believed I was an alien princess and someday my people would come for me. Yes, I had an imagination then, too.

I’ve also seen some weird things, in the presence of witnesses, and I don’t rule out the possibility of life on other planets. So I’ve merged my old blog, Aliens Spotted Near Beavercreek, with this one.

There. Now you know all you need to know.

Although I’m not going to tell you if I really am an alien or not. That you have to decide for yourself.

This post also brought to you by the letter A and the words alien, artichoke, androgynous, and asparagus.

A is for Audience

As writers, one thing we need to be aware of is our audience. My primary audience is lesbians, but mystery buffs might like my books as well. One of my protagonists is blind, so I need to make sure that I don’t just make stuff up about blindness that may not be true.

I’ve seen some interesting things lately about audiences. I recently edited a great book that my publishing house, Puddletown Publishing Group, is going to publish. It’s for middle grade kids, and features a Chinese-American family. Named Wang. Now, if you’ve spent much time around middle grade kids, and as a former teacher I have, you see the problem. Every teacher on earth will curse you if they have to make a fifth grade boy read aloud about the Wangs.  The author got it immediately when I pointed it out. Name change is in the works.

Place is also important to the audience. I live in Portland, and I write about Portland. When I read books set in Portland, I build mental maps based on my lifetime of experiences in Portland. I have no problem with made-up neighborhoods set in Portland, or made-up locations set in real neighborhoods. But if you put something in Portland that is illogical—for example, say you put a huge park in the middle of the downtown area, or a giant mall where I know for a fact none could ever exist—I, as the reader, am not going to trust you. If you have a character ride the light rail to someplace the light rail doesn’t go, I’ll know. And all my “willing suspension of disbelief” will fly right out the window. So, think about your audience when you write about real places. Some of them will live there, or will know the area well. Give them what they expect for the most part, and you can mess with the little details without messing with their heads.

I’m sort of surprised by how many straight folks are interested in reading my book. Now, some tell me it’s enough to turn them gay (hello, toaster oven!) but most of them don’t care. They just like good stories. I made an assumption that limited me in my marketing options. Yes, the women in my books are lesbian, and some of the men are gay, but why am I ghettoizing myself? I read “straight” books all the time and, unless it depicts really explicit sex, I don’t even think about the sexual orientation of the characters. Unless they are homophobic. That I’m going to notice. Or racist. Or classist. Or misogynist.

Anyway, this blogpost brought to you by the letter A and the words aubergine, antithesis, angst, and angel.

Monday, Monday

If you can get to my Facebook page, go check out the new video of Emma Sofia, the Wonder Babe. I’d post it but my daughter took it with her phone and it’s in a weird format.

So, the big news is almost ready to share. We’re getting closer and closer to launch. Got our email addresses and access to the cpanel for the website today. I am so psyched. It’s all I can do to work every day. All I want to do is work on the new thing. And I can’t wait to tell you all about it. Hard to believe we came up with this just 15 days ago. We being me and Renee LaChance.

If you know Renee, that might give you SOME idea of what we’re up to. If you know both of us, you might have even greater clues. Hint: It’s something we both do well, but not necessarily both of us doing the same thing. Although we will be doing the same thing. Confused? Good. Oh, and she did this for 15 years….sort of. And I’ve been working on this for several years and almost have a master’s in the part I haven’t been doing for the past 30 or so years. Oh, and if you were at Mar and VA’s open house, you were there at the birth. Just to make it more confusing, Kay Perret, this one’s for you! You always said I’d do it some day…..

I guess you could Google Renee for other hints. Or just wait a few days.

Sabbath Musings

Hi. My name is Susan and I’m a workaholic. (Hi, Susan) For many years now, I’ve had my own business. Working for yourself is dream many share, but it’s got some fairly predictable downsides. For example, the clock never strikes quitting time. If you have work, you are working. If you don’t have work, you are trying to find work. And, if you are a workaholic like me, you never know when to quit. So, for the last few years, I’ve tended to work daily, long hours, without vacations or even days off, most of the time. Even when traveling, I often take a computer with me and work.

So, approaching the first weekend of the new decade, my partner issued an ultimatum. If I didn’t take one day off a week, she would be really mad at me. I know. Not the biggest threat ever made. And she has been really mad at me before for other reasons. But I decided to take her seriously.

The first weekend solved itself. We had parties to attend, parties to throw (although the work was minimal as we’d had another party just the night before), and I pretty much did nothing except attend parties.  At the party on Sunday, my official Sabbath day, a friend and I cooked up a new business venture, but we didn’t actually act on it until Tuesday so I observed Sabbath in its entirety.

Today is my second Sabbath of 2011. I am writing for pleasure, avoiding work, and plan to spend some time being crafty. I like this new trend. Yesterday, I even avoided work most of Saturday as well. Maybe I’ll work my up to observing weekends again.

There are very good reasons behind Sabbath practice, and although I’ve written and preached on Sabbath observance on numerous occasions, I had fallen out of the habit of observing Sabbath myself.  Being a freelancer is a lot of work, with only yourself to rely on to make the income needed. My habit, though, was working myself into a total dithering collapse, and then trying to work anyway.

Now, with a bit of prodding from She-Who-Will-Be-Mad, I already find myself looking forward to a day of complete rest. In fact, I’ve decided that, within the confines of that which must be done to pay the bills, I will make this, my 60th year on the planet, a Sabbath year. I don’t really know what that will look like, but I do have some goals:

  • Observe Sabbath every week.
  • Take a real vacation, sans computer, for at least a week this year.
  • Find time for creative pursuits every day.
  • Spend time reflecting on the last 59 years and decide what would make the next few decades worthwhile.
  • Keep this dang blog up, not because I have to, but because I want to.

Anyway, that’s it for today. More to come I’m sure. I now return you to your regular programming which includes

Things I Learned Today:

  • My first book (which I reread in the wee small hours) needs a major revision of the first two chapters.
  • My second book (also read early this morning) needs some major plot reworking toward the end.
  • My third book is pretty danged good. At least the first three chapters. I fell asleep in chapter four, not because I was bored but because I took serious pain meds and they do that to me.
  • It’s Sabbath and I can revel in a life of creativity and rest.

New Writing Gig

I am now the Interfaith Spirituality writer for It’s not a paying gig although I do get a bit for each click. Go see what I did. So far just four articles but you can subscribe to the RSS feed and get them all. This is the fourth article. You can work backwards to read them all. Tell me what you think. 

Okay, I can take a nag, er, hint

Where have I been? Well, living out my alien princess fantasy, I’d like to say my people finally came for me. But you are my people, like it or not.

I’ve been busy. Indexing is down, freelance writing is up. Way up. I’m grateful for this as indexing is down. Not dead. But slow. However, I do have TWO books coming next week, one on autism, one on marriage and family relationships, both topics I find interesting, so things are looking up. And I’ve discovered the secret to making money online while working your freaking butt off.

I saw your ears prick upward. Writing? Money? Online? At home? Really? Yes, really. And I will soon post more details on the Chrysalis website over there to the right in the blogroll. Just let me say this: in the last six weeks, I’ve made well over a thousand dollars writing crap for folks who write worse than I do. That’s the trick. Write better than the people who want to hire you.

And be willing to write odd things. So far, 70 posts about gardening, a speech, a longer article about choosing a doctor, some web page content, a sales letter, a brochure, and some postcards. Some short how-to stuff about craftiness, my beef stew and deviled egg recipes. Easy peasy for the most part. And I will share my secrets for the low, low price of a click on a hyperlink. After I get done with today’s paid stuff. And water aerobics. And probably dinner.

Quick! Write Something…

….if a month passes between posts I’ll grow hair in my ears.  There. I’m safe.

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