Saturday, December 28, 2013

There and Back Again

Back when we were dating, I asked my (then future) husband to name the first place he'd go if he could go anywhere in the world. He said New Zealand, and I knew then that we were soul mates--because I would say the exact same thing.

Finally, this December, we were able to go! Here are a few pics and stories from our amazing trip. I absolutely fell in love with this country, not only for its awe-inspiring scenery, but also for its welcoming people. I've never been in a country where everyone, from shop owners to bus drivers, seemed so happy to meet (and assist) hapless tourists.

So here are some of my Top Moments from New Zealand.

Okay, so I'll admit it--when I saw Bag End I started to cry. It was surreal to walk through Hobbiton, with all the props and gardens left as they were in the films, as if the hobbits were simply just around the corner, out of sight.

Thar she blows, cap'n! My three hour whale-watching tour all came down to three minutes of Whale Bobbing On The Surface Before Submerging, but it was still pretty cool to see.

This was in Aoraki National Park; the trail leads to the foot of Mt. Cook, NZ's highest mountain. Do those mountains look familiar? That's because they're the Misty Mountains from the LotR & Hobbit films!

Ranked as one of the world's greatest sights, the fiords in NZ are spectacular. It's impossible to describe the immensity and grandeur of the mountains rising around you, enwreathed in clouds and mist. Despite rain and heavy cloud cover, I was left breathless by the view.

This waterfall is three times higher than Niagara.

So we went into a cave and saw glowworms. Imagine being in utter, complete, consuming darkness--only to look up and see what look like pale green stars scattered a foot overhead. It was eerie and beautiful and strange, and I wish I could show you a pic, but photography wasn't allowed. So here's a pic of the sunset we saw when we finished the cave tour! Still pretty.

At the Orana Wildlife Park in Christchurch, I had the unique opportunity to go inside a cage on the back of a truck and witness a lion feeding really close up. As in, I came out with lion spit all over me. Random question: is it really a good idea to teach the lions to associate humans in a cage with tasty hunks of meat? Not sure. But common sense aside, it was fun. For us, and the lions too, I believe.

It's like all of the things rolled into one: abseiling, hiking, zip lining, rock climbing, swimming, jumping, falling down...So much fun.

"Jump like Superman," they said. So I did.

Water, water, everywhere. I don't know if this is indicative of NZ year round, but the place was positively dripping. It rained nearly every day of our three-week trip, and simply became a part of life. And the lakes, rivers, and bays are all this incredible blue-green color that I never tired of seeing.

Ranked as one of the world's top day hikes, Tongariro was... many things. Challenging, as we hiked it in the rain (in this photo, we'd hiked above the rainclouds and got this very brief view of Mt. Doom--yes, Mt. Freakalackin' Doom). Breathtaking, because for one, the views--when we got them through the rain--were astounding, and for two, because you're climbing a friggin mountain and being blasted with freezing rain and winds strong enough to knock you off your feet when you're standing on a precipice looking down into nothing but cloud and empty air. But hey. I can now say I've simply walked through Mordor (though "simple" would be a slight understatement).

This was one of my favorite stops. The lupin blossoming everywhere was so pretty (you'll see it briefly in The Hobbit: DoS), and Mt. Cook in the distance was just amazing.

This was my favorite lake. We camped right on the shores, and had this incredible view to feast on. It was the blue-est (and coldest) lake I've ever seen (and swam in). 

In the "Edinburgh of the South," I wandered through several cathedrals. When I stepped inside them, I felt I'd stepped back into England or Germany.

I really have no other name for it.

This is heading into Fiordlands National Park. I'm pretty sure the jungles were infested with velociraptors, but unfortunately I was unable to capture one on camera.

The Rohirrim's favorite method of transportation, after horses. No but really. At a certain point in The Two Towers, you can freeze the film and see two tiny whitewater rafts in the river, right in the middle of Rohan. Oops.

The coolest little city I've ever been to. The place runs on sheer adrenaline, and this is the place to go if you want to jump out of a plane, bungy off a cliff, or parasail off a mountain.

I couldn't be in New Zealand during the premiere of the new Hobbit movie and not go see it. Thankfully, the others in my tour group were of a like mind, and we made a day of it. Movie feelings aside, it was so cool to see scenes set in places I'd hiked or viewed days earlier!

Hey, look at that! Origin is in New Zealand! I signed copies at two bookstores in Christchurch, and it was a pretty awesome feeling.

Some of the copies were here at Scorpio Books' Re:START Mall location. The Mall, built on the site of Christchurch's devastating earthquake of 2011. It's made out of storage containers and is pretty cool!

I traveled with Flying Kiwi tours, a cool tour company perfect for people who want to do NZ, not just see it. We camped each night, rode bikes, hiked, and made some really cool new friends from all over the world. It was fantastic, and I'd definitely recommend Flying Kiwi to anyone going to NZ who's interested in making friends and also not having to worry about driving or accommodation.

Missing you already, NZ! Good times. <3

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

What Writing Process?

“What’s your process like?” 
“Are you a planner or a pantser?” 
“What kind of environment do you need to write?” 
“What inspires you?” 
“Where do you get your stories?”
 “What’s your writing style?”

These questions and their many variations are ones I’ve heard countless times in interviews, discussions, panels, and emails. They’re not bad questions, and I don’t mind hearing or answering them. I understand why they’re asked. The writing process of an author is something that’s romantic to imagine, particularly if you’re not a writer yourself, and when we love a piece of art, it’s natural to want to explore its roots. That’s why there is so much behind-the-scenes footage attached to movies. It’s why we love to watch Jennifer Lawrence doing interviews on talk shows. It’s why we can’t bring up Van Gogh without mentioning that missing ear. We all want to see the man behind the curtain, so that by understanding him, we can more deeply internalize his work. And simply because we’re curious creatures, and that’s a wonderful trait to have. 

But I always struggle with these kinds of questions. I used to chalk it up to my novice status as an author. With only one book truly published right now, and my second waiting in the wings for another two months, I still feel I have a lot of ground to cover, a lot of ropes to learn. Even so, I’ve stumbled and stuttered my way through enough public Q&A’s that I like to think I’ve finally gotten a bit of a grip on how to present myself and my books to the world. And yet these questions—the writing process questions—still take me by surprise and leave me a bit dumbfounded. The answers I gave three months ago, which seemed to finally distill the essence of my writing process, suddenly fall short. More often than not, I find myself formulating new answers on the spot, clumsy, fledgling words that still fail to encapsulate my feelings. And I find myself disappointed, asking What is my writing process? How do I come up with stories? WHO AM I ANYWAY? I never feel more like an impostor than at these moments.

But I think I’m beginning to understand why. They say every writer’s process is different. This is, of course, completely true.

What they don’t say is that every book’s process is different. 

And this is what trips me up. This is where my tongue stumbles and I begin contradicting myself and turning red in the face. “What’s your writing process?” the blogger or audience member or email asks. And I’m left with my mouth hanging open, big blue question marks in my eyes. Do I describe the process by which I wrote Origin? Or should I talk about Vitro? Or the book I’m working on now? Or my early, feeble attempts at novels when I was a teen? Because the processes behind each of these are entirely unique. Some of them have almost nothing at all in common. And so I’m left speechless, because I realize I don’t have a writing process. And then I panic. Am I a bad writer? Am I doing something wrong? (Possibly, but that’s beside the point).

Writing books is like raising children. You can’t handle them all the same way. They have unique personalities, unique beginnings and struggles and moments of triumph. They have different strengths and weaknesses. I wrote Origin in a month’s time, with zero planning, zero pausing, zero rewrites, and zero revisions before I sent it to agents. I wrote Vitro over the course of nine months, with much planning, many rewrites, frequent pausing, and hefty revisions. The books are two entirely different creatures, requiring entirely different methods of care and handling. 

As I move on to new projects, I find—much to my dismay—that once more, I’m discovering a new process along with a new story. I’m reinventing my entire process every time. It’s frustrating. I think, I’ve been through this! I know what works! So why isn’t it working this time? 

As a kid, I was punished in an entirely different way than my younger sister. If I was bad (and I frequently was), I was disciplined by having my books impounded (granted, I always found out where my parents had hidden them and stole them back. They pretended not to notice). My sister, whose veins ran with normal blood instead of the ink that infested mine, had more ordinary forms of punishment, like being grounded from hanging out with friends or having her internet suspended. My parents recognized the differences in our personalities and approached us in the unique ways that would best reach us.

Books are that way, for a writer. You can’t approach each new project with the same methods as the one before it. Well, maybe some writers can, but I know that it never works for me. Every time I sit down to begin a new book, I have to go all the way back to the beginning, where I have nothing: no plan, no secrets, no handy charts, no shortcuts. Just me and the empty page, staring at each other warily, like a child and a stray cat who’ve just met in the front yard. The beginning of a project is always thick with suspicion and hesitance, as I feel out what this story’s personality is, and how best to make it respond to me. Some books can be guided with a feather; others require the subtlety of a chainsaw. Some characters will happily follow wherever I lead them. Others have to be chained and dragged, sullen and resentful, down the right path. I never fully trust myself that I know the direction to go, or even how to get there, but I know I have to try. If I didn’t try, I might as well stop breathing. This is what I was born to do.

And that’s why I love writing. There is a process, yes, but the beauty of the process is that it can’t be distilled. You can’t shape every book with the same mold. You have to start over each time, with nothing but your imagination and your vision. The result is that it never gets boring. No matter how much I’ve written, no matter how many shortcuts or tricks or methods I’ve learned, writing always demands more of me. It always says, “Come, you can do better than that. Let’s go somewhere new.” 

And my doubts and trepidation fall away, and I realize that what I hate most about writing is also what I love most about it: that there’s no level of perfection than can be attained, that at no point will I suddenly “get it,” and from thereon be a “real writer.” It’s a thought that is equally devastating and liberating, depending on the day and one’s mood. The important thing to remember is that it’s not about reaching perfection nor even striving toward it. It’s all about the journey, and the many twisting, challenging, and magnificent roads we’ll travel. I’m a writer now. I’m here. I’ve arrived. And so have you, if you’ve ever put a story to paper. There’s no standard by which all writers are judged either Success or Failure. Every new book is a new beginning, a chance to test new ideas and to make new mistakes. We’ll never be bored, we’ll often be frustrated, and we’ll always surprise ourselves when we discover something new hidden inside ourselves. We’re all pilgrims on the same mad quest. 

So I suppose you could distill the writing process into one word. I think it would be: “Reinvention.” 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Blue-bottle Fly: 3 Keys to Writing Knockout Descriptions!

"The first few doors they tried led only into spare bedrooms, as everyone had expected that they would; but soon they came to a very long room full of pictures and there they found a suit of armour; and after that was a room all hung with green, with a harp in one corner; and then came three steps down and five steps up, and then a kind of little upstairs hall and a door that led out on to a balcony, and then a whole series of rooms that led into each other and were lined with books - most of them very old books and some bigger than a Bible in a church. And shortly after that they looked into a room that was quite empty except for one big wardrobe; the sort that has a looking-glass in the door. There was nothing else in the room at all except a dead blue-bottle on the window-sill."

excerpt from The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe
by C. S. Lewis


It's one of the most basic parts of writing, taught to us in elementary school through such mnemonics as "Use all five senses!" and "Adjectives!" (Ironically, when you get older, suddenly the rules change and the latter isn't desirable after all--I've never understood this inconsistency.)

Description is a skill in which a writer can either shine or fade. You absolutely must have it to some extent, unless you're lucky enough to write picture books and can portray most of your description through pictures. Outside that, the rest of us are resigned to thinking of clever new ways to talk about lamps and sofas, or how to originally describe a doctor's waiting room.

Description shouldn't be a chore for either the writer or the reader. If you're bored writing a description, then chances are your reader will be bored with it too. But if you strip away descriptions, your world and your story will feel unfinished, a bare-boned scaffold standing where a complete building should be. It's the description which brings a world to life, whether that world is a vast continent enwreathed in magic and fantastic lore or a simple bedroom in a tiny apartment in Brooklyn.

Here's how you can both enjoy writing descriptions and ensure that your reader will sink into them as contentedly as if they were a bed of down and silk.

The Devil's in the details.

It's easy to go too far. I am perpetually tempted to obsess over every detail in a description, and the result is excruciating, overweight paragraphs like this example:

"The walls were lined with paper depicting tiny rocking horses, but parts of it had been ripped away. The wall beneath was dark red, the color of dried blood. A crib sat in the corner, covered with cobwebs. A mobile hung over it, and the stuffed planets that once spun in a merry orbit now leaked cotton into the crib and smelled of mold. An old Persian rug, its corners nibbled away by rats, spread over the creaking wood planks of the floor, and there was a lump under one corner that I had absolutely no desire to investigate. A dresser sat against the wall to my left, its cherry wood top lined with an inch of dust and the photographs sitting on it, in their tarnished silver frames, had long ago faded, but a few ghostly faces still peered out, their eyes unblinking and their faces grim. There were two chairs, both hard and unreliable-looking, as well as an old toy box painted with hot hair balloons and a single wicker basket filled with dusty yarn. A knitting needle stuck at an angle from one of these, as if it had been stabbed there, the final act of the homicidal Victorian nanny who had haunted these hallways so long ago."

If you ended up skimming most of that, I wouldn't blame you--and this was just a tame example of the kind of overwrought description I'm talking about. Too many details weigh down your story and instead of making a world come to life, it overwhelms your reader and overtakes your narrative. Ever read Moby Dick? It's like that. Maybe those kind of descriptions floated in the 19th century, but not anymore. Readers don't have time for that! 

In the above example, I ended up writing a few descriptions I kind of liked and would keep in the story. This is where I'd go back, cross out two-thirds of the paragraph, and present the reader with two or three crisp details.

The rest I'd leave to the reader's imagination.

I love this quote by Stephen King:

“Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.”

from On Writing, by Stephen King

What makes reading such a personal experience is the reader's imaginative investment in the story. Don't steal that from your audience by giving them every single detail. Going back to the excerpt at the top of this post, I want to point out what Lewis did to make his descriptions so powerful--but so concise.

1. KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid!

This is what I tell myself every time I catch my descriptions dragging on. Cut back, focus on one to three details and no more.

In his description of the rooms in the Professor's house, Lewis doesn't list every item in every room, thankfully. Instead, he draws out one or two significant details for each: the suit of armor, the harp, the books "bigger than a Bible in church." And last of all, the room with the wardrobe! And a dead blue-bottle fly on the windowsill.

Of course, we all want to know about the titular wardrobe, but I want to talk about the blue-bottle fly. 

Exercise time! Read that last part of Lewis's description, then close your eyes, and imagine the room. Imagine you, like Lucy, have just stumbled through the door and are now looking around, taking it all in: the floor, the ceiling, the walls, the wardrobe, the blue-bottle fly. What does the room smell like? What sort of light is there? What does it make you feel? Now open your eyes.

When I first did this exercise (years before the movie came out!), the room sprang to life in my mind. Light streamed through the window, over the dead fly, and there were dust motes dancing in the beams. The room smelled musty like an old attic, but also like cedar. It would have been easy for Lewis to leave out that last little detail, but by putting it in, the room becomes three-dimensional. It feels old, forgotten. And, cleverly, it draws attention to the wardrobe by teasing your attention away from the wardrobe. It makes the reader say, "Yes, I see the blue-bottle on the windowsill--but let's get back to that wardrobe!" Like when a camera pans across a scene, you spot some important detail, but the camera keeps going--before stopping, reversing, and going back to the thing you saw.

The blue-bottle isn't an idly dropped detail--it's an hors d'oeuvre of the finest quality. It whets the reader's appetite, inviting the reader to invest into the story, to add his or her own details to this room. It says, "Here are the dots--now fill in the lines."

It took less than a sentence for Lewis to entice his readers, to invite them to invent the story alongside him--and that is the magic of reading. A good description doesn't bash the reader over the head with every detail; it says, "Here's a little bit, now you do the rest."

2. Be specific.

Once you focus on a single detail or two, it's time to really make those details pop. It wasn't just a dead fly on the windowsill of that wardrobe room--it was a blue-bottle. Specificity is key in making a detail go from humdrum to unique. That's not a just a tree outside your window--that's a sugar maple. That's not just a car mysteriously parked down the street--that's a '67 Chevy Impala. Make your details count. Make them rich and memorable, not by drawing them out over a paragraph, but by being as specific as you can.

Specificity makes details interesting. This is extremely important and your readers will love you for it. Bland, categorical details like "tree," "car," or "book," feel one-dimensional and monochrome. Fill your world with color and depth by highlighting the uniqueness of your details. The smaller you get, the closer your focus the zoom lens of your writing, the more interesting the details become. Sort of like with an appetizer--serve your guests too much before the meal and they won't want dinner. Give them just enough to make them hungry, just enough to make them want more--and you're golden!

3. Make the details count twice.

Now--this is very important!--make your details work double-time. This is a prime opportunity to show, not tell, some facet of your character or setting. Let's say your MC walks into his best friend's room and sees a stack of magazines in the corner, and that's one of your 1-3 details. Okay, fine. But what kind of magazines are they? This one detail will tell us reams about what kind of person the best friend is. Are they Playboys? Are they New Yorkers? Are they National Geographics? The answer will stick in the reader's mind and help shape their opinion of that character, so choose wisely! 

Don't tell me your villain has tattoos and leave it at that--I want to know exactly what they are and what they mean to him or her. Don't tell me your MC grabbed lunch from the cafeteria--tell me whether she grabbed a vegan sandwich or a plate piled with fried chicken. These details are easy ways to bring characters to life without telling me in bland sentences that she's a vegan with tattoos. Often we mistakenly think that in order to show vs. tell, we have to put all the details in dialogue. Wrong! Here is an even more effective way of "showing," while describing at the same time.


1) READ. Grab three favorite books from your shelf. Find three descriptions in each of them and note what details the author includes and what details he/she leaves up to you.

2) WRITE. Now get out paper. Describe the room you are sitting in, focusing on as many details as you can. Leave nothing out. Detail every piece of furniture, the objects on them, the floor, the walls, the lighting, the smell. Don't hold back.

3) APPLY. Now begin weeding out the excess descriptions that you just recorded. Whittle your sentences down until you have two or three compelling, interesting, specific details about the room that not only give me a clear picture of the room while inviting me to add my own imaginative twist to it--but that also tell me something about you. Next, do the same thing--to your current WIP. 

Remember these three principles of effective descriptions:

1. Keep it simple
2. Be specific
3. Make your details count twice

In the comments, tell me about a detail you read in a story that has stuck with you long afterwards. Why do you think that detail is so memorable?

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Using Pinterest to Boost Blog Traffic

What's that you say? 

A way to finally justify all those countless hours I spend repinning kittens and goulashes and inspirational workout quotes? 

Could it be true?

Dear reader, it is.

Enough fun and games. It's time to start making that Pinterest account start working for you, instead of the other way around.

Pinterest has boomed in the past year. It has grown faster than any other social network in historyLook at this chart:

 That's a lot of numbers which basically say, there's a lot of folks on Pinterest these days, and those folks are spending a lot of time on the website--outmatched only by Facebook (I'll do another post later on how to utilize Facebook for similar purposes). Basically, since it's birth three years ago, Pinterest has exploded into one of the biggest social media networks, taking its place among the top six social sites with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, and LinkedIn.

Pinterest Advantages

  • Longevity

    • This is one of the most important advantages of promoting your blog through Pinterest. Though the first few hours after posting will win you the most activity, after that, the longevity of your Pin is almost limitless. I've seen Pins for blog posts still circulating years after the post was originally written. And all it takes is one influential Pinner to find it weeks or months later, and your Pin (and thus your blog) could see a huge resurgence in popularity. That will almost never happen on Twitter, where a Tweet promoting your blog post can vanish in a matter of seconds from everyone's feeds. Forever.

  • Images are more eye-catching than text

    • Pinterest is completely centered on sharing and collecting images. This is where you have a chance to really shine and grab people's attention in a way you can't on Twitter and even Google. By creating eye-catching title-images (which I'll explain more below) and filling your blog posts with interesting, quality photos (which are, of course, non-copyright-violating) you can generate huge traffic numbers (interestingly, this will also boost your Google traffic, through their Image search).

  • Analytics

    • This is a relatively new feature offered by Pinterest. If you register as or convert your current account to a business account (at no charge!), you'll have the ability to track what Pins and blog posts are the most repinned, most clicked, and most recent. Previously, these stats had to be tracked through external sites which tracked all of your Pins, not just those related to your blog. Pinterest's new internal analytics now track just the Pins linking back to your blog--which is immensely, hugely, awesomely helpful information!
    • Here's the thingy that shows you all the cool stats on your shiny new Pinterest business account:

  • It's less abrasive than Twitter, Facebook, etc.

    • Let's face it. We all get irritated by people who do nothing but shamelessly promote themselves through social media all the time. While it's perfectly fine to send a few Tweets or post a link on Facebook about your latest blog entry, doing so all day will only cause your following to dwindle. Use these accounts to exchange genuine discussion with your online community--don't use them simply to shove your brand in people's faces. Using Pinterest not only gives you an alternative way to promote, it feels less abrasive and blatant than some of the other social networks. However, you should still keep self-promotion to a minimum (don't Pin a single post more than once); if your content is attractive, quality work that deserves attention, interest and traffic will increase organically--which is the absolute best way for it to happen.

These are only a handful of the advantages Pinterest offers in terms of boosting blog traffic. Now I want to show you a few ways to ensure that you're connecting these two sites effectively.

How To Share Posts on Pinterest

  • Use Image-Based Titling

      • This is extremely important. Notice at the top of this particular blog post, I've placed an image of the post's title, "Using Pinterest to Boost Blog Traffic." Go ahead. Scroll up. Did you see it? Good. The reason you want to do this is because, well, duhPinterest is an image-based site. Titling your post with mere text won't work, because you can't Pin that. You could Pin an image contained in the body of your post, like I could Pin this picture of a cute African pygmy hedgehog:

        • "Shouldn't that do the trick?" you ask. "Can't you just Pin the cute hedgehog and write "Using Pinterest to Boost Blog Traffic" in the description of the Pin? After all, that should boost traffic. The hedgehog is cute, after all, and who could resist that tiny hedgehog face? Well, not many people could, that's true--but I guarantee you many of those people won't care squat about boosting their blog traffic. They'll Repin your hedgehog, delete your description, and write their own--therefore effectively destroying 100% of that Pin's purpose--which is to generate interest in your blog post, not in cute hedgehogs. By making the image you Pin be the title of your post, 100% of the people who Repin it will do so out of interest in your blog's topic. And hey presto! Mission accomplished. 
        • Here are some other title-images I've done:


        •  Remember, this works both ways. A lot of people who reach your blog through Google, Twitter, Facebook, etc., will end up Pinning your posts themselves, either because they're bookmarking it for later reference or because they think your content would be useful and interesting to their own followers (yay for this!) Give them a handy title-image to Pin, and you're certain to keep generating traffic.

      • Make your images eye-catching

        • Sometimes this means going the extra mile to find a great piece of quality clip art (I get mine from either [which is free] or [which is reasonably priced for the most part].) Then, be sure your text is:
          • easy to read
          • brightly colored
          • not too busy
          • not too boring
          • relevant to your post (resist using cute hedgehogs for every title-image; if your post is about books, use a book. If it's about how to play the accordion, use an accordion, etc.)
          • large and easy to spot in a Pinterest feed
          • not written in Comic Sans (for the love of cute hedgehogs, please don't use Comic Sans)

      • Post at a good time of day

        • It's easy to fall into the trap of "Oh my goodness this post will like change the world I need to share it everywhere NOW!" Okay. Easy. Breathe, my friend. Find out when your Pin is most likely to be seen. A recent study shows that Pinterest users are most active between 2pm-4pm and 8pm-1am on weekdays and weekends, with the most activity occurring on Saturday mornings.

      • Hold Pinterest-based contests

        • Contests are a popular and effective way to attract new followers to your blog. By hosting a contest that incorporates Pinterest, your traffic and following can increase wildly. I've held many contests here on my blog, but the most popular by far have been the contests which in some way involved creating or sharing Pins. Pinterest has an amazing snowball effect when it comes to this kind of thing. Be sure your contest loops back to your blog in some way (you might create an image with the title and description of your contest that links back to the post with the instructions on how to enter). Here is a Pinterest board with a lot of fantastic examples of ways to promote your contest on Pinterest. 

      After I began using title-images to promote my blog posts, I saw a surge of blog traffic and a boost to my blog's following. It's even boosted the page views of posts I wrote one or two years ago. Now, when I go into my Blogger analytics, Pinterest is listed as the #1 referring site for my blog. It generates over 1/3 of my blog traffic now, and that number is growing--and to top it off, that 1/3 is traffic I was not getting before I began Pinning title-images. So these are new readers, and my stats are telling me that many of them are coming back and pinning even more of my posts. When I first saw this, my eyes popped! It's truly made a difference in the way I blog, and I hope it can help you too.

      Ultimately, the best thing you can do is be genuine, professional, and consistent. Don't make social networking all about pushing your product/brand/self image. Focus on the people, not the product. Your most loyal fans will come out of genuine interaction, not shameless self-promo.

      Okay, enough preaching! =) 

      You guys are awesome. Thanks for reading! If you have questions or want to share ways you've used Pinterest to promote your blog, please leave a comment!