Wednesday, April 04, 2007

M.D. Benoit on Authors on the Web

M.D. Benoit on Virtual Tour outside Lethbridge WaterTower (now resturant) via this blog

Robert: One of the factors that attracted me to your writing originally was your blog. It was one of the very first blogs of someone I didn’t already know that I started reading on a regular basis. How important do you think it is for an author to maintain a presence on the web?

Dominique: It’s absolutely crucial, especially for an emerging writer or a writer who can’t get a lot of financial support from her publisher. I think blogs are becoming the medium to communicate with people, but still a website is important. Websites give static information that gets lost from one post to the other. By having a blog, visitors can get to know you, see what’s important to you, how you look at life.

Robert: How much time do you put into your blog? Do you have more than one?

Dominique: I have my own, Life’s Weirder than Fiction. I also contribute to It’s a mad, mad, world: Writing confessions of ten mad authors. Jack Meter also has his own blog, The Jack Meter Case Files. He gets to talk about the darker side of life, makes fun of people, and chats about his cases. I’ve just started this one, so it’s not quite honed, yet.

Robert: How does keeping your blog relate to your novel writing? Does it relate, or do you see these as completely separate activities? Do you ever use blog postings as a kind of ‘warm up’ activity before starting in on the day’s fiction writing? As a ‘cool down’ exercise? As a coffee break when ‘blocked’?

Dominique: My blog activities are mostly separate from my writing. I’ll mention what I’m doing, of course, and sometimes post excerpts, but I didn’t want it to be another writer’s blog discussing angst and difficulties. I really think that life is weirder than fiction, and I wanted to prove it. So the site is eclectic, sometimes humorous, sometimes sarcastic, sometimes looking for beauty through art and photography. I also post book reviews, since I’m an avid reader and opinionated.

Robert: Have you ever used a blog to workshop scenes from your writing? Get input from your blog readership?

Dominique: Never, and that was never my intention to do so. I find it really annoying to visit other blogs and find that they’ve put a raw piece of work up and are looking for feedback. What, do they want me to do their work for them?

Robert: Some authors have told me that they use their blogs to vent, so that they keep whatever this week’s hobbyhorse happens to be out of their novel — that without the blog, they find their characters suddenly holding forth about the importance of table manners or the War in Iraq or whatever, whether or not it actually fits the book. Have you consciously used your blog this way?

Dominique: Never, and again, it was never my intention to do so. I have a very active brain, with a strange, curious bent, so there’s no place for rants. Who cares about my opinions, anyway? If, on the other hand, my blog were strictly a political blog, then I’d feel free to rant, since I’d feel that not only that was my main interest, but that I have some knowledge about what’s going on.

If I really feel like ranting, I’ll usually post a comment on someone else’s blog, start a discussion that way. I follow about two dozen blogs myself.

Robert: Who does your webpage design? There are some very slick touches! Is it something you take on yourself, or do you (like many authors) contract that out to professionals?

Dominique: I’m lucky that my husband, Daniel, is a web designer. He did, however, start from an Open Source design, which was free (indicated at the bottom of my site). I do all the maintenance myself, had to teach myself html to do so, but I have a lot more control over the site, and don’t have to wait for changes. I can make them immediately.

I think it’s very important to have a professional-looking website. A lot of authors skimp on that. I’d be curious to find out if visitors get the impression that the author’s writing is also amateurish from the look of the website.

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