Tuesday, November 2, 2010
The Insider Scoop – Interview with Hart Johnson (soon-to-be-published author and hilariously witty blogger)
Today I’m interviewing Hart Johnson, blogger extraordinaire over at Confessions of a Watery Tart and fan of all things naked (including Naked World Domination!).
So take it away Hart!!!
First, I want to thank Rachael for hosting me! This Blogger Crusade she has going on, has really taken off, and it’s exciting to see. I’m also honored to be asked for an interview… not sure if Rach knew what she was getting herself into, as y’all will probably be naked by the time I’m done, but that is a risk she took... Okay… so you were asking…
Question 1: What are the five most important things we should know about you?
1) I suffer from FOMS (fear of missing something) so pretty much participate in everything… I really participate though, not just on paper, so it’s all good, 2) I am a Harry Potter nut, 5) I am a Monty Python nut! Ha! Got you! Counting Brother Maynard style! *cough* But seriously… okay, all the above are true and sort of at the core of pulling my delusional world together, but also… erm… I’m Naked and leading a quest called the Naked World Domination Tour…
I’m not altogether sure that stuff classifies as IMPORTANT, but it is sort of the quintessential me… Say… quint means five and quintessential starts with quint… is that where you got the number 5?
Rach: Tee hee, I'll never tell!
Question 2: Your blog is called "Confessions of a Watery Tart," how on earth did you come up with that name and that spin on branding?
As mentioned, I am a Monty Python nut. And a Harry Potter nut… My first dive online was in Harry Potter forums (HPANA) discussing predictions for what would happen in first the 6th, then the 7th book, and under our screen names (Gnargles&Snorkaks) was a ‘status’ based on how many points you had (earned by posting comments and reading news articles) There is muggle, student, prefect, head girl… witch, professor, auror… you get the point… but when you got to 2400 you got to pick your OWN title… That was where I first dibbed myself the Watery Tart.
In the Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail, this comes from the argument between Arthur and the peasant, Dennis. Dennis says, “You don’t become supreme ruler just because a Watery Tart lobs a scimitar at you!” But actually… you DO. See, if I want to rule the world, I only want to CHOOSE who is in charge, because if I were actually in charge, it would be a lot of WORK WORK WORK. But if I get to PICK who is in charge, I get all the glory and none of the effort!
The ‘Confessions of’ part was me thinking I was being clever at the time and I’m not entirely happy with it anymore. Lots of blogs claim to do a lot of confessing… I mean… I do a fair amount, but that part isn’t as much me as the Watery Tart part…
Rach: LOVE your reasoning...Don't get me started on Monty Python quotes :)
Question 3: Tell us about the brand of your blog. What's it all about? Do you find people really support the idea?
I guess I didn’t really set out to brand (oh, I know… you can lecture me… I’d heard). But you see I was under the illusion that my BOOKS and my personality were sort of contradictory. I was writing suspense and doing rotten things to my characters (I’d only finished one book, but the other ideas were as bad or worse). But I tried to think of what I had to say… what I COULD say day in and day out, and realized I can only be me. My very first blog quotes the Dread Pirate Wesley: “Then why didn’t you list that among our assets?” Because honestly—what I am GOOD AT is engaging people in play. When I am giving people blogging advice I always say, “You either need to be helpful or entertaining, and I’m not a utility model.”
I am not for everybody. I don’t hide my outrageousness, and I know some people see me as loud and obnoxious, but I figure people who think that are going to be offended by me eventually anyway, so best they know up front and make an informed decision.
I think though, that it works. By just being me, nobody is shocked later to find something different. And it really IS the only thing I could sustain. And I think as BRANDING, people can tell this couldn’t be faked and I’m the only ME there is. There are some other people who are as nutty (it seems we all label ourselves wenches, sluts and tarts—except the males—they usually go with titles with cheese in them), but my particular breed of insanity is fairly unique, so I think I definitely don’t get mixed up in the heap.
Rach: That's such a good point about being yourself, and being able to sustain it through your blogging...
Question 4: What advice would you give to beginner bloggers and aspiring writers about starting their journey through the blogosphere?
You know, I have written a couple fairly lengthy blogs on this, if you’ll indulge me to link:
Be a Blog Slut
But I can also summarize. WRITE as yourself. That doesn’t mean you need to tell all your personal secrets (I only get away with it because my husband isn’t really online). But you NEED to choose content you are excited about and talk about that. Blog regularly, so people who find you can see you are worth following and adding to their blog rolls. I think anywhere between three and seven times a week is ideal—predictable timing is ideal. But the BIGGIE, if this is networking, is to get out there and READ and COMMENT on other peoples’ blogs. Bloggers know the deal: tit for tat. Someone comes into my blog ONCE, it’s possible I miss following them back to their blog because I’m easily distracted—two or three times though—I’m all over it. I OWE them a check back.
Now that isn’t to say I follow all or read all regularly. In fact that FIRST time, I follow if the content or bio is appealing, because that is just a click but the blogroll takes a little longer to make (mostly because my memory is bad so I need the reminder of seeing people several more times). If there is something that seems canned or dull, I probably won’t follow, and there are a few content area I just know I won’t get back to—it isn’t that I don’t support the bloggers, but I’m not particularly interested in religious blogs, blogs that are strictly craft stuff, straight political blogs (once in a while, yes, but not as key content), technology? Product reviews? Just some things I’m not following. But MOSTLY, I am open-minded.
Question 5: Do you have any branding tips you can share? How do we make our own blogs stand out among the hundreds of others?
Erm. No? Seriously, I am so unintentional on how I go about it. I really do think a little self-analysis might help, though. Who is your favorite person? Who brings out the very best in you? How are you WITH THEM? At least for me—I’ve got some friends with whom I ALWAYS laugh, and totally enjoy myself. Some of it is because of history and inside jokes, but actually, I’ve tried to pull in my readers—that is where the Naked World Domination Tour came from—a plot I have been joking with several of my online buddies about for years.
But some people feel their best when they are helpful, or nurturing, or taking care of kids or animals, taking great photographs… writing (the OTHER angle to my own blog)—what YOU do you feel happiest with? I really think it is a bit of an organic process, so letting it change when you get comfortable—allowing you to grow into yourself as a blogger—that’s probably what I’d recommend. I know we are all supposed to have platforms, but I think if you force it, it is boring or unsustainable. My platform is I’m a nut, and I might just give you a laugh when you need a coffee break. That’s it. Not very cohesive.
Question 6: Tell us about your book deal (and your book, of course).
Aha! And oddly, here we get to the success of just being yourself. I am one of the rarities that came into my book deal through my blogging voice. One of my first blog readers said very early that I had a perfect voice for Cozy Mystery. At the time I’d never HEARD of Cozy Mystery (you know… light hearted little murders, with crafts and zaniness, where nobody is too sad to have the victim gone). Turns out I’d read some—just hadn’t known it had a name. I resisted, mostly because I thought MYSTERY was too complicated… erm… and they seemed sort of perky (remember, I am wanting to be dark and mysterious!—oh, contradictory me). She planted the idea though, and it is the PROCEEDURAL I was really too terrified to address—I didn’t want to learn forensics. And it is a rare PI that I can get in their head. Cozies have an amateur sleuth. Anyway, last February her agent asked her if she had time for another series and she didn’t but she passed on to ME what they were looking for and I auditioned.
See, several highly selling genres do series that way—editor has an idea and then seeks a writer to fill it out and write the series. I had to write the first 50 pages, then REVISE (because the editor really liked my voice, but there was too much of this and not enough of that), so I did THAT, and then I was offered a three book contract. It is all under a pen name (after my two grandmas)—I think because they want to make sure the authors don’t then go on to write something contradictory to cozy mystery (though it makes sense for me, too—my other stuff is all a lot darker).
My first book is due to the editor December 31. At the moment, I am at the ‘read out loud’ polish stage and plan to send it to my agent Monday for her feedback. It’s been a GREAT experience. Mystery has more structure than suspense and I think I’ve learned a ton about plotting and pacing—stuff I can apply to my other writing. Plus, there really IS something to writing in a voice that so closely matches what I sound like when I PLAY. I managed to fit the phrase, “I’m naked!”, a boxers versus briefs debate, and a cross dressed man all into one book without straining the plot.
My OTHER persona has written 6 suspense books—I am currently polishing the 2nd I ever finished and am excited about it. It’s possible I will try to get it ready for the Amazon Contest this January… unless I jump the gun and query it (which means I will probably do both—you know… the FOMS)…
Thanks so much for sharing with us, Hart. It’s great to get to know you much better. And can I say, I’ve managed to work in more than a few “naked” references into my WIP in honor of you (*chortles*).
Make sure you all pop over to Confessions of a Watery Tart and leave Hart a comment or seven and say hi from me.