article, writing tips

A Writer’s Guide to Coronavirus Quarantine Life

1800x1200_coronavirus_1

Life, Disrupted

By now we realize that Coronavirus has disrupted nearly everyone’s daily lives.

Whether you are self-quarantined, or just social distancing, it can be very tough to keep your creativity and writing output up. It seems counter-intuitive. Writers all over the globe are exactly where we should be right? In front of our keyboards. But any combination of health & financial stress, working from home, caring for children, and home schooling is absolutely disruptive and exhausting. It can make you just want to curl up into a ball and not write or do ANYTHING creative at all.

I’ve been home for about two weeks now. When I received my work from home announcement, I thought whoa, so much writing opportunity! and I was completely wrong. I wasn’t even able to utilize my usual lunch breaks to get words in anymore. This combined with feelings of anxiety and even mild depression from isolation (I’m one of those weird extrovert writers) tanked my output. This past week however, I carefully managed a routine, and it has helped quite a bit. My word count is up, and most importantly, so are my spirits. Here’s what I’ve been doing. Everyone’s situation is different right now, so these may not work for you, but I hope they might help some of my readership out.

Continue reading “A Writer’s Guide to Coronavirus Quarantine Life”

announcement, article, guest post, writing

Do You Want To Guest Post?

white-notes-beside-a-pencil-on-brown-wooden-surface-733854

Would You Like to Expand Your Audience?

As part of my “2020 Blog Resolutions” that I mentioned here, this year I’m looking to have more bloggers featured on this site via guest postings. Guest posts are a great way to expand the audience of your blog by getting writing in front of a new audience that might not be familiar with you.

While re-blogs are great, they don’t have the same level of intimacy and intention that a well-crafted guest post does.

To that end, if you’d be interested in writing a guest post about

  • Writing (Writing Tips, Writing/Author News or Trends, or just relatable author struggles)
  • Books (Book reviews, genre news, or “bookish” trends)
  • Film photography (news, reviews, fun camera stuff with some featured images)

I’d love to have you on the site. Even if you’ve never written a guest post before, I’m happy to have Suburban Syntax be the first place you try. Feel free to email me here at bdauthor@outlook.com or message me via WordPress or on Twitter.

Need Some Content?

If you like my stuff and are looking to temporarily ease the burden of creating content on your own blog, let me know and I’d be happy to write a guest post for your site if we can find a topic that is a good fit. See the above bullets for the type of content I generally focus on.

Here’s to a great 2020 of blogging and I hope to hear from you!

announcement, article

2019 Blog Round-Up and Top Posts

cowboys riding horses

It’s been another great year in the weird little corner of the internet known as Suburban Syntax.

We got a fresh look and face lift just in time for Halloween. We started talking a little more about film photography along with our primary subject of writing. And last, but certainly not least, we got a LOT of brand new readers and followers! That might mean YOU!

First off, thank you to everyone who drops by and reads these posts, discusses them in the comments, and shares them around. “Suburban Syntax” isn’t something I do for financial gain (does anyone make money blogging these days?) so it’s seeing regular faces drop by and discuss posts that really keeps me coming back and updating it on the semi-regular. You rock, and I hope you stick around.

Adding Photography

Aftering purchasing and inheriting some film cameras this year, I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the interest my posts about film photography have garnered. It’s definitely a niche art form at this point, which is re-growing after bottoming out in the early 2K’s. I’m by no means a great photographer, but it’s an extremely fun hobby to dabble in, and I’m happy to have cross-over with film photo readers – many of whom I’ve begun following to learn more about the craft and cool vintage equipment.

Top Posts

It’s always fun to run the numbers and see which posts were everyone’s favorites.

For 2019, here’s what everyone was reading

Kodak Gold 200 Film Discontinued?

My film folks were in effect. Maybe it was the click-bait-y ? I threw in the title, or the promise of an adventure through local Walgreen’s pharmacies, but this post BLEW UP. It was the best performer by far, ever when it posted a little later in the year.

How to Draft Short Stories

Hot on Kodak’s heels was this short guide on how to draft short stories. This one even got re-posted around the interwebs in a couple places, which was flattering. It’s nice to think that other people might take my advice when it comes to penning short fiction.

Thoughts on Self-Publishing in 2019

In 3rd place was my speculation/opinions on the changing landscape of self-publishing. Authors prefer you call it “Indie” now, but I am stubborn. Scouring a few articles from industry-types that are much more qualified than I am, it seems like a few of my predictions were correct, and things are definitely trending in a certain way. I’m very curious to see what the new decade brings in terms of author’s being able to get traction for their work through the self-publishing route.

What’s Ahead in 2020?

To close this out, I’d like to give a quick teaser on a few of the things I plan to focus on for the blog in 2020.

  • GUEST POSTS – I love guest posts (and guest posting!) so I am hoping to get some other writers in here to voice their opinions on writing and/or photography
  • NEWS POSTS – I make it a point to create “evergreen” content, but it seems like people enjoy the occasional timely “news” post too. I plan to tackle some of those with my own editorial spin on them
  • PHOTOS & REVIEWS – I’m going to continue expanding the photo-related postings where I can, but I’ve been VERY lax about book reviews. I’d like to get back in the saddle of reviewing books, and perhaps cameras and film too.

Thanks again to everyone who is my audience. I hope you all have a safe and happy holiday season, and I look forward to an entering an exciting new decade with you in the  coming weeks!

-BLD

article, writing

Author In-Person/Event Checklist

2019-11-30_9-50-25

Attending In-Person Events

I recently attended the Book Fiend’s Reader Fest 2019 in Connecticut, and it was one of the largest author events that I’ve participated in.

I was fortunate to have other members of my writer’s group in attendance as well, to provide support and show me the ropes. Live events are a great way to expand your audience and network with other writers, but they can also be stressful and overwhelming if you don’t prepare in advance. In this post I can hopefully provide you with a list of essentials and potential pitfalls so you can learn from my mistakes when you hit the road yourself to do a live appearance.

Essentials for Author In-Person Appearance

Here are some of the essentials you’ll need – keep in mind this is an “everything and the kitchen sink” checklist for a full day(s) conference. If your event is smaller you can reduce as needed.

  • BOOKS! – This seems obvious, but make sure you purchase copies of your books ahead of time so you have them in advance of the event. I didn’t have nearly enough stock, and it’s awkward telling people to look at Amazon on their phones.
  • POWER – I cannot stress this enough. Bring power. That means cell phone charger, laptop/tablet charger, a power strip, and one of those little USB charger bricks if you have one. You won’t know if there is an outlet near your location, and it really stinks to run out of battery in a pinch. Plus, you can be a hero and make friends by helping others who forgot to bring these things
  • FOOD & WATER -Some events provide food. Others don’t. Don’t assume they will 100% have food, especially if you have dietary restrictions, or that restaurants will be easily accessible. Looking things up in the area ahead of time using Maps or Yelp is fine, but you may not get breaks or be able to leave your table, so you’ll want some quick and easy snacks and a water bottle handy to keep yourself going.
  • CASH & CREDIT DEVICE – Bring change. I cannot tell you what an awful feeling it is to turn someone away who WANTS to buy your book because they cannot pay you. Make sure you take out plenty of change in cash. Dollars or your own local currency. Then, ensure you have a backup, whether it is Paypal/Venmo, and some kind of credit card reader. You don’t need to accept checks or anything, but you’ll want a minimum of two forms of payment that you can accept. If you know your audience is going to be tech-savvy it wouldn’t hurt to have Apple or Android Pay either.
  • CREDENTIALS – Make sure you have any and all emails, tickets, badges, and identification that you need to prove you are an author/vendor in a safe and easily accessible place. If this event is big, it’s likely run by a convention agency. That means you might be talking to service and security who have NOTHING to do with the event and don’t know or care who you are. You don’t want to be the person holding up the vendor line digging through your Inbox for the “invite email” you got three months ago.
  • EMAIL LIST – Make sure you have a way for people to sign up! Live events are one of, if not the best, way to get new email list subscribers. I used to use a clipboard and pen, but messy handwriting made it hard to figure out. Now I use a cheap tablet with a Google Form that looks pretty and makes it easy for people to sign up.
  • BOXES – You gotta have something to lug all this in. Some kind of tupperware box is the minimum, but those rolling handcarts or even small luggage could work if you have it. Assume there will be stairs and sidewalks and doors and nothing will be easy. Then if it’s a straight walk to an elevator you can be pleasantly surprised.

NICE-TO-HAVE’s

These are nice to have, but might not be 100% necessary

  • Tablecloth – If you’re either solo or sharing a vendor table, a tablecloth can make things look much nicer. Even a cheapo one from Walmart or Target that you wash and iron will make a plastic folding table (which is usually what you get) look far more inviting and professional. You want your books to make the best impression they can, and this is an easy way to step up your game.
  • Display Stands – To make things look nice you’ll want some of those cheap wire or plastic display stands. You can get them online or at a craft store. These really help by showing off your book in an attractive way that is easy for passersby to pick up, plus they save precious real estate on your table, which can sometimes be limited.
  • Business Cards – Not essential, but HIGHLY recommended. It is extremely easy and cheap to get business cards made. You don’t need to go crazy either. A few hundred basic cards will likely last you a while, and they are a great way to give all your key info (email, website, socials) out quickly in a way that people can look at later. ProTip: I only get one-sided cards, because if I’m networking, a blank cardback is a great place to jot notes for other authors and industry people.
  • Candy – People love candy. Especially free candy when they are wandering around all day in a convention center full of overpriced food. A bucket of candy on your table is a cheap way to draw people in and grab their attention for those critical few seconds to start a conversation. “Oh, I see you enjoy Kit Kats?…”
  • Clip-On Fan – Seriously, bear with me on this. You know those little clip-on fans that are either plug-in or battery powered? During warm weather events those can be a total life saver. If you can spare room in your box for a small fa that you can clip up and get some air moving, if can make sitting at a stuffy table all day way more comfortable. Don’t assume there will be shade or AC, and room full of people at a live event can heat up quick.

In Conclusion

I hope this list is helpful to you, and can help you feel better prepared for any live events that you might be attending. Or, if you’ve recently attending an in-person author appearance and think I forgot something, please feel free to add it down in the comments.

article

The Future of Barnes & Noble

image of people in a bookstore

Barnes & Noble Sold

I just heard that Barnes & Noble was sold to Elliot, a venture capital firm that also owns the U.K. bookseller Waterstones.

I have had a tenuous, love/hate kind of relationship with B&N, and have blogged about it in the past. I’m not a fan of the way Barnes & Noble annihilated numerous other book retailers and mom&pop shops through the late 1990’s and 2K’s (similar to Blockbuster Video), but it’s nice to have an option besides Amazon if my local indie book seller can’t get what I want. Plus, I’m still one of those weirdos who reads “enthusiast magazines” and B&N is literally the only brick and mortar retailer I know who stocks a variety of those.

Venture capital firm purchases are almost always dicey, but at least B&N will still exist.

What I’d like to see happen

  • Get some personality: The pitch is a more “decentralized” model where the individual stores have a bit more autonomy. I think this is a great idea, and knowing some actual real-life B&N employees, I think its for the best. I have three Barnes & Noble in my general vicinity, and the one that does best allows its workers to inject personality and unique style into the space. It makes the place feel a bit more like a large indie book store, and feels inviting.
  • Re-focus on books: Get rid of the toys, games, Funko Pop figurines, and all that other junk, and add a wider selection of things to read! I’m still all for book-related gifts like Moleskines, bookmarks, and reading lights. That’s fine. But if I want vinyl I’ll go to a record store. Give me a horror and expanded literature section.
  • Kill the Nook: Just do it. Please. Put the thing into the landfill with all those copies of “E.T.” for the Atari.
  • Engage local reading and and writing communities: More local author readings, more book clubs, more big names stopping in on their book tours. All of it. Give readers a reason to drop by.

Better Than Nothing

I’m still a proponent of local independent bookstores over Barnes & Noble (support your local indie!) but it’s better than having no stores at all. Amazon is just the coldest experience possible. No tactile feel, no page whoosh, no book smell.

I guess we’ll see what the future holds for Barnes & Noble, and I hope it’s a turn for the better.