What’s in a (Website) Name?

Friday night I finished a big revision of my WIP, I Hold the Wind, which I first drafted during National Novel Writing Month in 2014. Monday I began writing a new novel, which is at the moment called One Last Summer. It’s a complete reboot of an earlier manuscript, which lent its name to the blog you’re reading right now (A Beautiful Fiction). I initially decided that when I wrote a new story that happened in the exact same setting with a few of the same characters (though they would all be much changed) it ought to have a new title. The original story of that name had been sent out years ago to agents but ultimately didn’t work. (And they were right to reject it.) I didn’t want anyone to get confused or have their reading experience of the new story tainted by the old.

However, the more I think about it, the more I think that old title still fits. And I obviously liked the sound of it, or I wouldn’t have wanted to save it and use it for my website. And let’s be honest, agents read thousands of submissions each year, and by the time this new story might possibly be published, eight or ten years may have passed since they had seen it. And of the handful of agents who actually read the manuscript in its entirety, how many would read this new book (after all, I am no longer querying agents). And let’s not forget the most important thing: an author’s title is rarely the title that makes it to the final product and it’s the publisher’s prerogative to change it. A Beautiful Fiction may be deemed too literary, while One Last Summer has more obvious commercial appeal (beach read, anyone?).

I’m sure as the writing progresses, my thoughts on this will go back and forth a number of times. In the end, who knows if One Last Summer will even make sense? Maybe it won’t be the last summer at all. That’s half the fun of writing for someone who tends to have a loose idea of where a book is going but not a completely drawn-out plot — you don’t quite know where you’ll end up.

In the writing world, those are generally called pantsers, people who write by the seat of their pants. But I’m not sure I’m a true pantser. And I’m certainly not a plotter, at least not in the same way someone like my husband is (his outlines run into the tens of thousands of words — no, that’s not an exaggeration). I’m a hybrid. A planter, if you will. I have the seed and I know what it needs in order to grow, but I don’t have complete control over its growth. Then at some point I get out my pruners and start revising.

At any rate, all of this thought about titles made me start thinking about this website. Is it time to consider un-naming my blog and simply naming the whole website ErinBartels.com? That is the URL, after all. And it would be wise to have my name in the header so you see it right away (or so every branding expert says) whether or not I use A Beautiful Fiction on a book someday.

What do you think, reader? Did you even know this blog had a name other than mine?

Edit: So, the more I thought about it, the more it seemed right to change the website name from A Beautiful Fiction to simply my name. So, welcome to ErinBartels.com.  😉

 

The Accidental Website Facelift

I was trolling around WordPress looking for a new theme for the Capital City Writers Association when I stumbled upon one I thought might work. I only meant to see what it might look like on my site, but then I found that when I activated it, I couldn’t go back! Oops. But what a happy accident.

Now when you visit erinbartels.com, it’s a heck of a lot more visually appealing. This new theme has allowed me to showcase some of my photography a bit more, it’s forced me to revamp some of my pages, and the font is easier to read. It even has better adaptability for tablet and mobile viewing. It did take me quite a while to figure out the bells and whistles, but I think I’ve got most of them covered now.

Hope you enjoy the new format! And please share it with a friend you think may enjoy this blog!

Giddiness, Goals, and Giveaways

Hi friends. I don’t typically focus on stats and numbers in this space (yawn) but I noticed this week that A Beautiful Fiction reached 900 followers. This made me understandably perky. And then I thought, What if I could reach 1000 by the end of the year? Wouldn’t that be cool? And I answered myself, Yes, Erin, that would indeed be cool.

So beyond my goals to write and publish a short story each month (which is going just swimmingly, I can assure you) and to secure literary representation for my first novel (which may or may not happen in the coming month, but it’s a possibility), I’ve added a third goal for the year: to reach 1000 followers on the blog. Hey, it could happen. And if it does, I’m prepared to go a little nuts.

So, if by 11:59 PM on December 31, 2013 I’ve gotten to 1000 followers, all twelve short stories I will have written this year will be available as a free download on January 2, 2014 (my 34th birthday) as a thank you to all of you.

How can you help make this great giveaway happen?

1.) One easy way is to click the Follow button on the righthand side of the screen if you are not already an official follower of this blog. You’ll get new posts emailed to you automatically–and nothing else. No spam. No ads. Just blog posts. That’s it. When I blog you’ll know about it and you’ll be among the first to know about future giveaways and promos!

2.) When you read a blog post that speaks to you, please share it with your friends on Facebook and Twitter or email it to someone you think would enjoy and benefit from what I write about here.

I may occasionally remind everyone of this opportunity (for newcomers who don’t go back to read this post) but I promise not to be obnoxious about it.

If the blog reaches 1000 followers earlier than the last night of the year, the giveaway will happen earlier as well. So if you’ve been enjoying this space as much as I have, please share it with your friends–and then get 12 short stories totally free on your Kindle.

And now back to our regularly scheduled program…

Every Ebook–FREE TODAY (Yeah, you read that right.)

One year ago I started this blog with the intention of focusing most of my posts on writing and Michigan. If you want to know why I chose those two subjects, just click on “Home” up above the blog header. A year later, I’m happy that my passion for both writing and Michigan has not waned. In fact, I get the distinct feeling that I’m truly just getting started.

For those of you who have been along for the ride from the beginning, I thank you for reading. For those who have just found A Beautiful Fiction, I thank you for joining us on this journey toward better writing, more appreciation for the natural world, and more intentional noticing.

We’re now nearly six months into my one-short-story-per-month experiment (I’m thinking June’s story will just make it on time). I’m in talks with a couple agents about my first novel, I’ve begun another that I’ve put on pause, and I’ve begun a third for which I’m in gung-ho mode. I’ve also sketched out another project—a three book series.

I have many lovely travel plans, the first being Interlochen next week, where my husband is taking me to see Brandi Carlile in concert—part of his Mother’s Day present to me. I. Can’t. Wait. Then camp, Mackinac Island, and hiking.

So I imagine this summer you will find this space filled with photos of some lovely places and people. And I’ll keep those short stories and posts about the craft of writing coming as well.

If you haven’t already, consider following me on Twitter (@ErinLBartels) to get links to lots of interesting articles about Michigan, writing, publishing, and more.

First Five

And as a special thank you to all of my readers, I’m making all five of my short stories FREE TODAY ONLY for Kindle and Kindle apps. So snap them all up today and tell your reading friends to do the same. You can find them all on my Amazon author page or on the My Books page on this website.

Happy summer, and thanks for making me part of your longest day of the year.

A Little Ray of Blogging Sunshine

sunshine-awardYesterday I was the happy recipient of the Sunshine Award for “bloggers who positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere,” which was bestowed upon me by a gentleman who blogs at A New Writers Life and Times. I think awards between bloggers are a nice way of telling others that we value their writing, their contribution both to the blogosphere at large and to our individual lives. It’s nice to know not only that there are people out there reading, but that some of them are benefiting from what you’ve written.

And in the end, I think that is one big distinction between different types of blogs. Some very clearly exist to enhance the “project that is me” and some exist to bring joy and help to others. In the past I’ve had to count myself as part of the former, but I am happy to be part of the latter now.

As is customary with blog awards (though I’m not sure how these sorts of traditions get started) I’m supposed to answer some personal questions and nominate some others (10 for this award, though I’m not going to be a slave to that number).

The Questions:

Favorite color: Nearly the full range of blues and blue-greens, with a few exceptions

Favorite animal: I can’t say I have one, though I am particularly fond of birds and particularly disdainful of mosquitoes. Everything else, I suppose, falls in between, but the reality is I love all animals (with the exception of the aforementioned mosquitoes) including the creepy ones most people would instinctively kill on sight or run from in terror.

Favorite number: Really? People have favorite numbers? I can’t tell you the only ones that come to mind to answer this question, because you’d be that much closer to hacking all of my passwords.

Favorite non-alcoholic drink: Dark roast coffee, milk, water, tea

Facebook or Twitter: Facebook (though I must admit my news feed is feeling more and more like just getting a bunch of drivel forwarded to my email). I’m on Twitter and I tweet links to interesting articles regularly, but honestly, I don’t automatically follow back in order to boost my follower numbers and I don’t read much of anything on there anyway. I think Twitter was kind of a neat idea but that it has turned into a constant stream of commercials for people and products. And I really, really hate commercials. In fact, this guy has articulated all the things I loathe about Twitter, smartphones, and the social media culture in which we (unfortunately) find ourselves.

My passions: books, literature (honestly, I can’t truly make myself believe these are equivalent), nature, Michigan, writing, great photography, creative and artistic expression in many forms

Giving or receiving gifts: I love giving the perfect, unexpected gift. But I like getting the perfect, unexpected gift as well.

Favorite city: I’m a big fan of many Michigan cities, including Grand Rapids, Detroit, Petoskey, Mackinac Island, and Lansing. But most of my favorite places are not cities. They are places like Camp Lake Louise, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, and any of the tens of thousands of lakes, rivers, beaches, wetlands, and fields you can find in our beautiful state. I’m also a huge fan of Boston.

Favorite TV shows: currently Breaking Bad, Downton Abbey, Mad Men, Arrested Development, How I Met Your Mother

The Blogs:

These days I read comparatively few blogs. I find that I am using my limited time in other ways–writing short stories and novels and living in the “real world” with my family and my home more fully. But there are those I have followed, some for a rather long time and others just recently, that would certainly fit the bill. I’m not going to contact each of these people, because I know for sure some of them don’t deal in blog awards. Instead, I’ll let the pingbacks speak for themselves.

One upon a time I would have nominated The Sew Weekly, but it seems to have ceased existing in 2013 (though, if you sew or are interested in sewing, all the posts are archived there and you could spend weeks going through them all). And I have enjoyed the personal blogs of many of the contributors (you can still find them linked off the Sew Weekly site) but I’m spending much less time sewing this year than I did in 2010-2012.

These days I am still enjoying Pleasant View Schoolhouse and Mabel’s House, both of which I have read for the last several years. Anna and Liz are people who feel like good friends, though I’ve never met either of them and had limited personal interaction over email.

I still check in at Couture Allure for interesting vintage fashion news and information and just to smile at the lovely and odd photos, ads, and fashions of yesteryear.

But more of my time is spent reading blogs and articles on writing and the publishing business. One of the best new ones is Chad R. Allen’s blog. He has great tips and ideas for writers and those of us in the publishing biz. Chad is the editorial director for one of the imprints at the publishing house at which I work. He uses his blog not only to inform writers but to encourage them, so if you’re in need of a good word, go see Chad.

I am also finding much to love about Anne R. Allen’s blog. As far as I know, Chad and Anne are not related.

But the blog I read religiously and from which I have gained much good advice and through which I have enjoyed much excellent writing is Writer Unboxed. There is a whole slew of great contributors and anyone who writes fiction should be following this blog.

I guess that’s that. Happy blogging, folks.