Saturday, October 29, 2011

Saturday Savvy Sensation: Janice Hardy

Have I ever mentioned to you that my all-time-favorite-never-miss-a-post blog is Janice Hardy's The Other Side of the Story?  Well, now you know. She's amazing because she's good at what she blogs about. She's an excellent teacher. If you aren't reading her EVERY DAY, you must start now (an easy task if you have "liked" our Facebook page, The Write Advice, hint, hint). And today she is on MY BLOG!! And she has a lot of really good advice for you bloggers so read on....

Who are you (what do you write, what are your personal stats)?
I write fantasy and science fiction for teens, (The Healing Wars Trilogy) and blog about writing for writers of all ages and stages (The Other Side of the Story). In my day job world, I’m a graphic designer. I’m also terribly clumsy, have a weakness for sweets, and a love of most things zombie.

Where can we find you online (blog, twitter, facebook, etc.)?
Twitter: @Janice_Hardy

When did you begin your online platform building?
I first started with forums like Absolute Write and Backspace in 2007. They were a good way to get my feet wet and start getting to know the online writing/blogging community. When I sold my first novel in 2008, I knew I needed to start doing something online, but had no clue what. I read a lot of blogs and enjoyed them, so I thought I’d try that. I started a writing blog February 2009. It was the only thing I felt I had to offer that anyone would be interested in reading on a regular basis.

What is your message, if any (is your blog about anything specific, for example)?
The blog is all about writing and improving your craft. When I was starting out I was often frustrated by advice that said I had to “do X” but didn’t really tell me how. Later, I was teaching writing for Writer’s Digest Online Workshops and discovered I had a knack for explaining all those things that once drove me crazy. On the blog, I offer a lot of examples and try to explain the how so someone can apply it directly to their work and see improvement.

If I have a message, it’s probably never say you’re not good enough to be a published author. Say you’re not good enough, yet. That “yet” leaves room to grow, and as long as you keep working and learning, you’ll get there.   

How have you built your followers: What have you done that has been the most successful? What have you done that has failed?
Lots of trial an error. Mostly I try to write things folks will want to read and share, and make it easy for them to do that. I guest blog on other sites, have a weekly guest author post on my site to help bring in new readers (and help promote my fellow author’s books), I do weekly critiques. It’s so hard to know what works and what doesn’t. I do know that getting picked up regularly on popular link sites has helped drive a lot of traffic.  The retweets and links on Twitter also bring in a lot of folks.

The most successful thing has to be the recent redesign. I had over 500 articles on writing on the blog and unless you dug through the archives you couldn’t easily find them. So I redesigned the blog in more of a website fashion with an index and easy to find links so folks could find the topics they needed. It went from being a blog to being a resource for writers. I’m at 800 articles now, and it’s time to update the site and tweak it further.

Things that failed…well, shortly after the redesign I started doing extra posts throughout the day to give folks a reason to check the site more than once. I had links to great posts I’d read, spotlights on festivals, conferences, contests etc. It’s a great tactic for most blogs (and has been proven to drive traffic) but for a writing blog, it was overwhelming. There was too much to read and the numbers started going down. I stopped that after a few months and the numbers went back up.

How much time do you spend blogging? Reading blogs? Commenting on blogs?
Time varies depending on the post, but anywhere from 5-15 hours a week writing them. Some I can knock out in under an hour, others take me half a day. It really depends on how complex the topic and what’s needed for the examples. I try to pick a day and get as many done as possible for the week, which helps a lot. I also keep a file of ideas so I don’t waste a lot of time trying to think up a topic. When things get busy, I pull articles from the archives and rerun them, though lately I’ve been doing one “Golden Oldie” a week even when it’s not busy. Readerships change so most folks haven’t seen some of those older posts and they’re still relevant. I also spend an hour or two a week responding to comments.

Reading time is about an hour per day, and I’ve had to cut back on that a lot this past year. I used to read a lot more, but I had too many obligations and I had to give up something or lose my mind. I actually don’t comment on other blogs that often unless I can add something to the conversation. I’m much more of a lurker. That’s something I’d like to change though. There are so many great discussions going on out there and I miss keeping up on the news.

What else should we know about you?
Let’s see…I’m a gamer geek. PC, consoles, you name it. I also have the cutest pink bicycle. I’m rather strange, with a dark sense of humor (which comes out in my writing). I love cheesy movies as long as it’s good cheese (which doesn’t necessarily mean a good movie). I love to talk to writers and readers.

Any additional advice for our readers?
If you’re a blogger: Blog for fun, not because you think you have to. It’s way too much work if you don’t enjoy it, and your readers will be able to tell your heart’s not in it.
If you’re a writer: When things get bad, remember that you’re not alone. Every writer goes through the same trials, and someone out there knows exactly what you’re frustrated over. Even better, there are plenty of writers who felt that way and made it to publication. Keep writing and you’ll get there one day.

What makes you unique?
I have a zombie in my yard. His name is Cadaver Dan and he even has his own Facebook page. He likes to dress up for the holidays. He’s trying to decide what to be for Halloween right now.

Thank you so much, Janice! You are so, super savvy. It is always an honor to interact with you and I'm ecstatic that I get to share you with others.

Janice Hardy always wondered about the darker side of healing. For her fantasy trilogy THE HEALING WARS, she tapped into her own dark side to create a world where healing was dangerous, and those with the best intentions often made the worst choices. Her books include THE SHIFTER, BLUE FIRE, and DARKFALL from Balzer+Bray/Harper Collins.  You can visit her online at or chat with her about writing on her blog, The Other Side of the Story.

About Darkfall:

War has come.

Nya’s the one who brought it. And the people love her for it.

With Baseer in shambles and Geveg now an impenetrable military stronghold, Nya and the Underground have fled to a safer location—without Tali. Nya is guilt-ridden over leaving her sister behind and vows to find her, but with the rebellion in full swing and refugees flooding the Three Territories, she fears she never will.

The Duke, desperate to reclaim the throne as his own, has rallied his powerful army. And they are on the move, destroying anyone who gets in the way.

To save her sister, her family, and her people, Nya needs to stay ahead of the Duke’s army and find a way to build one of her own. Past hurts must be healed, past wrongs must be righted, and Nya must decide: Is she merely a pawn in the rebellion, a symbol of hope—or is she ready to be a hero?


Joanna Marple said...

Wow 800 articles is some serious resource! Thanks for the interview. I have already added the blog to my Google Reader!

Janice Hardy said...

Thanks! Yeah, I can't believe how it's grown in just a few short years. I love doing it, no matter how hectic it gets at times.

roniloren said...

Love how you redesigned your site. Everything is so easy to find. I have been wanting to organize my posts on my writing blog for a while now, but am daunted by the time it's going to take. Maybe one day, lol.

Carol Riggs said...

What a great thing to do, Janice--index your site so people can find info better! I love reading the articles, even if I don't have time to respond/comment. It's a great resource. And your novels sound great. I'm off to Goodreads to make sure I have SHIFTER on my list of books to read! Thanks, Laura, for hosting this interview. :)

Natalie Aguirre said...

Great tips on blogging Janice. I love how you explain everything on the craft of writing.

Sarah Pearson said...

I have so many of Janice's posts bookmarked to help me. It was brilliant when the index appeared :-)

Stephanie Scott said...

I also love The Other Side of the Story! If I'm short on time and can't read through my blog feed (which is increasinly the case b/c I keep finding new blogs to follow!) this is one I purposely go to. I have an ARC of Darkfall and I'm looking forward to reading it.

Susanna said...

I have a new blog to follow - can't wait for the new posts to start showing up in my inbox! Not only that, but I haven't read The Healing Wars - so new books to add to my TBR list. Thanks for a great interview, Laura and Janice!

Janice Hardy said...

Thanks so much! Look forward to seeing you on the blog :)

Janice Hardy said...

I'm so flattered I'm on your "go to" blog list. Hearing things like that make all the effort worth it. Thanks!

Janice Hardy said...

Thanks! That was the hubby's idea, so I'll let him know. I'll be updating that in a few months to make it even more useful. Look for my call for suggestions come Dec most likely. I have things I want to changed based on how I use it, but I also want to hear what other folks would like to see.

Janice Hardy said...

Thanks so much! And thank you for being such a long-time supporter. I think you've been reading it since almost the start.

Janice Hardy said...

Thanks! Yep, that index was the hubby's stroke of genius. He did all the work in the redesign. I organized and did the masthead. And the writing of course, lol. Hope oyu enjoy THE SHIFTER, and thanks for giving it a try!

Janice Hardy said...

Thanks, I'll let the hubby know his hard work is appreciated. The re-tagging was time consuming. I need to do that again and update it, and I'm already dreading it. What I found helpful there, was to figure out beforehand how to organize things and make a tag list. Then I did one "page" at a time (I think it's 25 posts or so in the edit posts list) oldest to newest posts.I usually got through about 3 pages before I wanted to tear my hair out. But there were times I did one page when I had time each day. I think I got in done in a few weeks, little by little.

Janice Hardy said...

Thanks! It's really grown in the last year. Of course that does make it hard sometimes to know what yo write about next :) I need to check my index and see where there are holes.

Mainer122 said...

Janice's site is definitely one of the best writing blogs out there, with everything clear and helpful, with plenty of examples. I first found her site when she did a guest post at Lydia Sharp's, or maybe it was Lydia doing a guest post at Janice's. Either way, it worked, and I've been a reader ever since. :-)

LauraBarnes said...

You won't regret it. It's AWESOME! But you can get seriously lost in her posts. I think I've been there for hours before.

LauraBarnes said...

I agree. It's much better and I can't imagine how much time it took.

LauraBarnes said...

I had to make a folder just for my Janice posts!

LauraBarnes said...

I made a folder for essential reads in my Google Reader so that if I'm low on time I read that first. Janice was the first blog I put in there.

LauraBarnes said...

Be prepared to fall in love, Susanna!

LauraBarnes said...

I first found her blog before I was truly into the craft of writing let alone blogging. She's definitely been an incredible resource for me.

msugar said...

I am already a follower of her blog. She has a wealth of information to share. Anyone not already following really should check her out. Thanks for bringing us the great interview.
I am writing this comment from my kids ipad and they are new new to me so I apologize for any errors.


LauraBarnes said...

Ooo ipad! I'm jealous :) I don't see any errors. You done good.

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