Book Review, Essays, Misc

Open Book Blog Hop: How and Why I Started Blogging

This post is in response to the prompt provided by the Open Book Blog Hop. Today’s topic is: How’d You Start Your Business, Blog, Or Freelance Career?


How’d I start my blog?

With fear and trembling. Seriously, it was a challenge to get started but super rewarding once I did. But, in case you want details, I invite you to read on. Then, please me leave a message with your thoughts, or about your own blogging experience.

The Beginning:

I’ve been blogging for a few years, I’d say roughly four, not including last year’s sabbatical. The journey began back when I decided to get serious about writing. I wanted to share my stories with people but didn’t have the means to do it. A blog seemed like a good idea but I was just starting out. I had no major contacts, no experience, had never managed anything like a blog before. And, who cared enough about me and my writing to read my posts, anyway? The whole thing seemed scary and unattainable. That said, the need to try, as well as to take charge of the problem, won out.

So, I had my mission. But how and where to begin?

At the time, I was active on Google+ where I had met many supportive people at various stages in their own writing pursuits. One thing I noticed about most of the successful ones was that they had writing blogs. This made sense, since the marketing wisdom at the time urged writers to develop strong writing platforms. This usually included an active blog. As for me, I was writing stories at an incredible pace, and had become a moderator of two writing communities. Also, I had published my first book, The Purple Morrow. After about a year, I finally felt I had enough experience to take the plunge.

Still, the idea scared me. I mean, nothing is worse than being excited about a piece when no one else is. Worse, what if no one notices my articles or comments on them? In the end, though, I put all that negative thinking aside and got to work.

The first attempt was on Blogspot. The benefit was that it was connected to G+ so, right away, it gained attention and feedback. I named it Purple Pebbles…not sure why anymore, except that purple is my favorite color. I posted stories, poems, and short essays about my writing experience, and was genuinely surprised at the positive response. The blog enabled me to meet and engage many new G+ people, and easily follow and interact with current contacts. Lastly, it boosted my confidence.


The Middle:

Then came the move to WordPress. People had told me that WordPress was the way to go if I wanted to reach even more people. They also argued that the platform itself was better. So, after worrying about using a new tool and whether or not people would follow me, I made the switch. I named it Dropped Pebbles in reference to the idea that every author has a unique voice, and our words resonate beyond the written page. Then things really took off. Being able to share posts via multiple social media platforms at once, including the vast WordPress community, opened new doors. Then followed blogging awards, requests to guest blog or to contribute to e-magazines, blogging about my writing ups and downs, book reviews, and invited guests. I particularly enjoyed hosting author features and author interviews. I knew how hard it was to get books in front of potential readers, so it was important to me to help in any way I could.


Looking back, the whole thing feels like a blur. After being away for over a year, I am still surprised at the whole experience. Surprised and grateful. People are busier these days more than ever, so the fact that they took time to read, comment on, and share my blog still means a lot.

Not Quite the End:

Dropped Pebbles was closed for a while, but I decided to test the waters again. When I started blogging, my original goal was to establish myself as a serious writer, as well as to use my experiences to help other hopefuls navigate the pitfalls that plague our Great Writing Adventure. This time around, my goals are a little more humble. I’m coming back to the game somewhat out of practice but with more realistic expectations about said adventure.

Still, I’m here now, seeing things with fresh eyes and a different point of view.

*grins* But more on that another time.

Essays, Misc

More Liebster Awards! Yeah!

Glendon Perkins and A Rat and nominated me for the Liebster Award!!! Thank you so much, you amazing people. 🙂 I’m stoked to be getting it again as I feel it validates the hard work I’ve put into Dropped Pebbles as well as all those who have participated in it with me.


The rules of this award are as follows:
1.  Nominate eleven bloggers for the Liebster Blog Award
2.  Notify the bloggers.
3.   Ask eleven questions the bloggers must answer upon receiving the nomination.
4.   Answer the eleven questions you were asked when you were nominated.
5.   Link back to the person who nominated you.
6.   List 11 random facts about yourself.


Questions to be answered:

  1. Which would you prefer to possess  – power or wisdom – and why? Wisdom.  You can use wisdom to make good choices and improve your life or situation. That’s a form of power, anyway.
  2. What invention do you think has been the most important to Humanity? The laptop. I’d be lost without it. Oh, and my iphone. Love my phone.
  3. Which would you rather have – the ‘perfect’ body or the ‘perfect’ mind – and why?  Well, now that I’m getting older… lol
  4. Do parents have rights over their children – or duties to them?  Laws give us rights over our children for their protection until a certain age. We also have responsibilities to them as their protectors and guides. But they are still subject to us, not the other way around.
  5. Your child asks you: “I want to be a footballer but I want to be an artist too.  My teachers say I have to choose one.  What do I do?” – What’s your reply? Do both.
  6. You have the ability to write the greatest epic novel of all time –given a great deal of time  – or you can write a hundred bestsellers in a few short years.  Which do you do, and why?   Both. The point is to write as much as I can. Not everything will be epic or fantastic but most will be enjoyable, I hope.   
  7.  You can go to the swankiest, most expensive, top-ranked chef’s restaurant – cost no obstacle – or you can go to a small family place with traditional, all freshly made, home cooked food.  Super fancy. I can go to a family restaurant anytime, darn it.
  8. Traditional animation or CG?    Anime.
  9. What’s your favourite tree?  Any tree. They are all gorgeous.
  10. Your children/grandchildren:  a field, a bat and a ball or their school sports day?  Which is the most fun? Either. 
  11. Which: lying on a perfect beach beside a perfect sea or getting bramble-scratched and nettle-stung picking fruit with family?  Beach. I need more relaxation time.


Here are my nominees…

11 Random Things about me:

1) I’ve recently started drawing again after 20 years

2) Just learned my son is allergic to our cat. 😦

3) I love coffee

4) I love indoor rock climbing

5) I love to bake cakes–so relaxing

6) Never think I have anything interesting to share for these spots, lol

7) Went to ComiCon this year and had a blast

8) Wish I knew how to sew

9) Am craving a spectacular vacation somewhere exotic–might ask Yolanda for her travel agent

10) Prefer quiet evenings at home to big parties

11) Have a ridiculously loud laugh 😀

Author Interviews

Author Interview: Witty and Wise, Chris Andrews is the Writer from Down Under

Chris Andrews, fantasy author and blogger
Chris Andrews, fantasy author and blogger

Since starting these author interviews two months ago, I have met some incredible people. Today, I’m really excited to feature a writer I respect, someone who knows what he’s talking about, who works hard at his craft and is just an over all great guy. Some of you may already know him as a moderator of the Fantasy Writers G+ community. Oh, and he’s ridiculously funny. Really. I received his interview responses at work and they triggered waves of barely containable giggles! Embarrassing!!

Right, so rather than blather on about my guest, I think it’s best to let fantasy author and blogger Chris Andrews speak for himself. You’ll see. He’s got a lot to say. 😀

Welcome, Chris! It’s great to have you with us today. 

Hi Dyane! Thanks for having me over.

1- Can you start by telling us a little about yourself?

I’ve got the body of a Greek God minus the build and looks. My God-like powers are still in the mail though – I purchased them off an infomercial.

Otherwise, I’m a writer, and it’s been four hours since I wrote my last word.

My favourite flavour is epic fantasy, though I’m keen on anything speculative fiction (except horror – I scare easy). Mix any of it up with a good dash of cross-genre fun and I’m in heaven.

2- Are you interested in other forms of artistic expression besides writing? Where does writing fit in, and why are you drawn to it? What keeps you motivated/inspired?

I’ve written a script or two, and have a couple more (loosely) planned.

I’d like to say I’m good at all kinds of art, but the truth is that I make a pretty good handyman. Where I really shine is at SingStar (awesomeness varies with listeners’ states of inebriation).

What keeps me motivated? My job – what I wouldn’t give to write a book that sells squillions of copies so I can retire in the style my family believes they deserve.

3- What forms of writing (short stories, poetry, novels, etc.) and genres do you prefer and why? What can you never see yourself writing?

I’ve always favoured novels – you can immerse yourself in a novel and escape the real world for a while.

I’m not if sure there’s anything I’d never write – a trollish review maybe? Okay, maybe I would if you bribed me well enough (I’m thinking of a brand new Lamborghini).

4- I’ve read books which annoyed me to the point where I wanted to throw them across the room. As a reader, what do you think makes a good story? What’s one thing a ‘bad’ book taught you to not do in your own writing?

If you can make me care about your characters or at least what happens to them, then you’ve done your job as far as I’m concerned. You’ll transport me into happy land where heroes’ rise to stand proud on the ashes of whatever evil overlord you’ve concocted – hair still perfectly in place.

I’ve never actually thrown a book across a room, though there’s plenty I’ve never finished. There’s been a troll or two I’d like to have thrown across the room though.
Bad books, unlike trolls, are subjective. What I try to avoid is writing something an insomniac might substitute for a sleeping pill (painful I’m told, and likely to result in death).

5- As a writer, what elements do you find most crucial to include in your stories? What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Crucial elements? I could fill a book about that (actually, I’m working on it, but that’s another story).

Most crucial? Emotion. The more your characters care about something and the harder they have to fight for it, the more your readers will care.

My strengths? I try to cut out all the boring stuff.

Weakness? World-building – it’s an afterthought or a chore for me. Sometimes both. If there’s beer involved though, I’ll happily build you a model city out of the empty cans.

6- Who are the biggest influences in your writing?

Any author who can turn off my internal editor. If you can do that I’ll pull your book apart to figure out why. I promise to put it back together afterward.

7- Can you tell us about your books? What other projects are you working on?

POPCoverWithTextMy books? Well, according to my invisible friend who’s standing beside me (he just finished reading my epic fantasy and speaks with a British accent): “Brilliant! Genius! Couldn’t put it down!” Another invisible friend (she has a beautiful Irish accent) said: “You’ll laugh, you’ll fall in love, you’ll cry, and you won’t be able to stop thinking about it.” I won’t relate what the Aussie guy said – he can be a bit crass when he’s trying to be funny.

I’m currently shopping around Prophecy of Power: Quarry (the epic fantasy). It was short-listed in a couple of manuscript development programs and has attracted some attention since. Fingers crossed. It’s the story of a princess being hunted by assassins because of a prophecy she wants no part in – the first in a four-book saga.

Another series follows a reluctant mermaid who accidentally kicks off a supernatural war with a succubus (Epicentre). It’s an urban fantasy set here on Earth in the present time, but within same story universe as Prophecy of Power: Quarry.

A third series with an overarching title of Through the Veil is something of prequel to Prophecy of Power: Quarry (though set thousands of years earlier). It’s a star-crossed lover’s story spanning two universes.

I’ve also started a stand-alone novel called Lost in Darkness. It’s a coming of age story about a blind swordswoman set nearly a hundred years prior to the events in Prophecy of Power: Quarry.

Are you sensing a pattern yet? I struggle with world building, so reusing the same one makes sense to me.

8- What do you find is the most difficult aspect of writing and how do you cope with it?

Time – family commitments and my job. I work around them. They’re closely followed by procrastination.

To cope, I like to stay in touch with other writers – I find myself inspired by their efforts and successes.

9- Who are your favourite writers and why?

Raymond E Feist, Jean M Auel, Frank Herbert, Anne McCaffrey and David Eddings when I was younger. More recently Rachel Caine, Robert Jordan, Stephanie Meyer, Steig Larsson.

Why are they my favourite writers? Well, favourite’s probably the wrong word. I respect them because they can make me care about their characters and what happens to them.

10- What advice would you give to new writers?

That depends on their goals.

If they’re similar to mine (ie, they fully expect an international number one bestseller within 24 hours of any given publication (hey, dream big dreams!!!)), learn the basics (grammar, punctuation etc), learn about structure, and learn about storytelling. They’re different things.

Once you’ve sorted all that out, learn about marketing and promotion and how to use social media the ‘right way’ (it’s called social media for a reason – some people think it’s called Free Advertising Space, but as everyone hates advertising…).

While you’re doing all that, write a few books.

Of course, with a bucket of money you can pay someone else to do it all for you, but that’s not nearly as much stress… I mean fun.

11- How can readers get into contact with you?

Again, thanks for having me over Dyane. It’s been a lot of fun trying sound like I knew what I was talking about. I think I faked it pretty well!

Anyone can reach me at:

My blog:

Google Plus:

via twitter: @ChrisAndrewsAU

Chris, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with us. I’m certain everyone enjoyed meeting you as well as learning about your book and what writing means to you. As usual, Readers, please check  out Chris’s links and see what he’s up to, including the Fantasy Writers community he moderates, which is a great place for writers of this genre to meet, learn and to hone their craft.

Until next time, everyone!