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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Fellowship of Fun Hashtag Challenge


The Fellowship of Fantasy is a new author site devoted to providing quality content for fans of Fantasy Fiction. The books have a rating system and need to abide by a "low PG-13" standard, making this a one stop shop for YA safe and Family Friendly fiction.

For the month of June the authors involved in the Fellowship of Fantasy are doing a #FellowshipofFun challenge. We've put together a series of prompts/challenges that you can share across social media using the hashtag #FellowshipofFun, What sort of prompts and challenges? Well we made a graphic, just for you!



Sound fun? Join us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to play the game!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Random Interview Saturday! Jenelle Leanne Schmidt

DISCLAIMER
The H. L. Burke Random Interview is not like other interviews. The questions are all over the place. They have no purpose. Their purpose is their lack of purpose.
There are nine questions because cats, but these nine questions are subject to change without notice, so the questions one person answers may not be the questions answered by the next author.

Today we sing the welcome song to Jenelle Leanne Schmidt!
This is your welcome song, it isn't very long! HEY!
Jenelle Leanne Schmidt


Author Bio

Jenelle is one of those rare and elusive creatures known as an "author." She enjoys hanging out in darkened corners of coffee shops, sipping hot chocolate and carrying on animated conversations with those strange and invisible beings known as "characters."
If you spot an author in this scenario, it is best to not intrude (unless it appears that the character is winning the argument with the author, in which case your interruption may be most welcome... at least, by the author).
Another place authors like Jenelle enjoy spending their time is out of doors, preferably near a lake or pond, with a notebook and pen in hand. If you happen upon an author in the wild like this, it is best to proceed cautiously. Interrupting at this juncture could be most hazardous to your health.
As most other authors, Jenelle is a bit shy and timid, though her friends would disagree with that statement. Her favorite genres to read and write are fantasy, sci-fi, and fairy tales.



The Interview


What’s the most important lesson you ever learned from a cartoon?
There’s only 104 days of summer vacation.

Your life is being made into a movie. Who plays you? Who plays your love interest? (or who plays your arch-enemy?)
My role would be played by Anne Hathaway or Emma Watson. My love interest (husband) would be played by Jeremy Renner, definitely. And my arch-enemy would be a very large pile of dishes and laundry that magically dirties itself directly after being thoroughly washed.

You receive a contract that allows you to have any pet you want (mythical or real) but in return you have to spend a week AS a pet to a mythical creature of your choice (dragon, giant, sphinx?). Do you take it or do you decline?
That is quite a rare and precious contract. I would definitely accept. First, I would be a unicorn’s pet, because unicorns, as a general rule, are quite gentle and relatively harmless (not Anne Elisabeth’s unicorns, though... I don’t know that I’d survive that!) I cannot imagine that being a unicorn’s pet would be unduly difficult or dangerous. After finishing my week, I would receive a beautiful, magical, ridable, flying, fire-breathing dragon as my very own! Definitely worth it.
Would you rather travel to the past or the future?
This is a hard question, actually, because both are quite intriguing. The future is unknown and exciting, but I would also be very interested to see certain historical events as they unfolded with my own eyes instead of through history books and writings. Imagine being able to witness the battle between Xerxes and Leonidas, or Moses talking to the burning bush, or travel with Shackleton on his trek towards the South Pole, or go see baby Jesus in the manger!
But either direction I choose, I’d only go traveling through time if I could do it in the TARDIS with Ten. 

Who wrote the book of love?
I wonder. I wonder who.
Actually, I had to look up the song, because I’ve never heard of it before... because if it isn’t country music, I’ve probably never heard of it. Yep. I just admitted that. Country girl and proud of it.

During an alien invasion, what would be your weapon of choice?
I’m gonna have to go with a Rambo-esque knowledge of how to make deadly traps and an HK94 submachine gun. If neither of those options are available, then I’ll just stick real close to Jack O’Neill and Daniel Jackson... because they’ll figure out how to get us out of this mess and save the world.
If you could combine any two animals to make a hybrid, what would they be?
Hmmm, a horse and a wolf. I’d call it a Worse. It’d be big and powerful enough to ride, but extremely dangerous and difficult to tame. Good to have it on your side in a battle, though.
Congratulations! You are now president of this blog post. What's your first executive order?
Nobody is allowed to whine when it’s cold outside anymore. The official favored season is now winter, and forecasters are no longer allowed to equate gray with “gloomy.”
If this question were any question in the world, what question would you want it to be and how would you answer it?
Anything but the question it is... I didn’t realize this interview was going to involve WORK! hahahahaha!
And I would answer it by saying, “Purple bananas wearing red sweaters, because eagles flying upside down through snowstorms equals panda trumpets.”

Connect with the Author on Social Media

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Readers and Amazon Reviews: Survey

Readers and Writers: Positive Interactions

Readers and Writers: A Delicate Balance


This is part of a multi-part series regarding some potential pitfalls and difficulties on both sides of the reader/writer relationship. It's important to note that different writers (and readers) will have different comfort levels. It has been a surprise for me how many authors suffer from serious social anxiety, it's always important to remember that you cannot own another person and while the writer does not have an excuse to treat another poorly, sometimes they may not, for their own mental well-being, be able to engage with you in the way you would prefer.
This series will focus mainly on things I've observed about writer/reader interactions. It will in no way be a blanket statement of how it is appropriate for all readers to interact with all writers, or vice versa.
Some subjects we'll be covering:



Part Five: How can I positively interact with a writer?

So, yeah, there has been a lot of what 'not to do' in this series so far ... both for the writer and the reader. However, a lot of it, if you really think about it, is just common sense and courtesy. It's taking into account that you can't really know what's going on in the writer's life and the writer can't know what's going on with yours. We don't know each others schedules or social anxieties. 

However, I have yet to meet a writer who didn't say reader interaction was in some way meaningful to them. A lot of times a nice email telling them how much you loved their book or a review saying the same may come at exactly the right time.

A professional writer will most likely NEVER respond to a review. It's considered taboo for various reasons, even if the review is positive, but that doesn't necessarily mean they don't see and appreciate them. 

You can also follow the author on social media and interact with their posts. They'll often ask questions of their reader pool (I've let my social media followers name minor characters when I'm stumped and don't want to just stab my finger at a name in a phone book or something), and who knows? You may get an opportunity to influence their next story!

If you get a chance to meet a writer, treat them like you would any other person ... and yeah, it could be awkward. Meeting strangers is always awkward. A lot of writers don't like talking about themselves ... but most love to answer questions about their books. 



Saturday, May 21, 2016

Random Interview Saturday! Heather Manning

DISCLAIMER
The H. L. Burke Random Interview is not like other interviews. The questions are all over the place. They have no purpose. Their purpose is their lack of purpose.


There are nine questions because cats, but these nine questions are subject to change without notice, so the questions one person answers may not be the questions answered by the next author.

Today's guest has splashed down after a journey through the stars. Let's see what she's discovered out there.

Heather Manning

 Author Bio:
Bestselling author Heather Manning is a young lady who loves to read--and write. After she won several writing competitions, her first book was professionally published and quickly became an Amazon Bestseller. She is an active member of her local ACFW chapter and lives in Kansas City, Missouri and attends college, sees plays, devours donuts, and performs onstage. You can find Heather on her blog: heathermauthor.blogspot.com.

The Interview

    If you had to write only in one crayon color for the rest of your life, what would you choose?
Probably Razzmatazz or Caribbean Green. I used to be that girl who had the HUGE box of 100+ crayons and knew the name of every one of them. Those were two of my favorite! They’re such cheerful colors, but pigmented enough that you could see my writing if I used them. I’m not a crayon nerd…really, I’m not…. :D

    If you could enter any fictional world, which would you choose?
Neverland from Peter Pan for sure! I’d never have to grow up and I could hang out with Peter Pan and Captain Hook, and the sassy mermaids! Sounds amazing to me.

    Heads or Tails?
Heads!

    Would you rather travel to the past or the future?
Definitely the past. I write historical, so there’s something magical about the past for me, and I would LOVE to be able to time travel and visit the actual locations of my books!

    If you favorite historical era had an ice cream flavor made in its honor, what would it taste like?
Hmmmmmmmmmmmm. Well, I love the 1920’s right now. And, when I think of the 1920’s, I think of The Great Gatsby, lots of decadence and gold. So, it would probably be 24-carot gold flake ice cream or something, and maybe I’d throw in some maraschino cherries because those are my favorite part of ice cream.

    During an alien invasion, what would be your weapon of choice?
Probably The Force. I could control their minds and strangle them from afar, Darth Vader-style. Maybe I’d even get a lightsaber. :D

    If you could combine any two animals to make a hybrid, what would they be?
A dachshund and a shark. It would have the head of a shark and the dorsal fin, but the long body and short legs of a dachshund. Wouldn’t that be amazing? I’d get one as a pet and laugh all day long every day.

    Is mayonnaise an instrument?
NO.

    If this question were any question in the world, what question would you want it to be and how would you answer it?
Who is your favorite Disney Princess? Tiana! But also Snow White because she is adorable and looks the most like me. 


Book Links:



Author Social Media:

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Readers and Writers: Reviews

Readers and Writers: A Delicate Balance


This is part of a multi-part series regarding some potential pitfalls and difficulties on both sides of the reader/writer relationship. It's important to note that different writers (and readers) will have different comfort levels. It has been a surprise for me how many authors suffer from serious social anxiety, it's always important to remember that you cannot own another person and while the writer does not have an excuse to treat another poorly, sometimes they may not, for their own mental well-being, be able to engage with you in the way you would prefer.
This series will focus mainly on things I've observed about writer/reader interactions. It will in no way be a blanket statement of how it is appropriate for all readers to interact with all writers, or vice versa.
Some subjects we'll be covering:



Part Four: What about reviews?

I've talked a lot about reviews. A lot a LOT. I've talked about bad reviews and mean reviews and ignoring reviews and gathering reviews ... and I'm going to try not to repeat too much of that, but I'll sum up really quick:
  • Bad reviews happen to everyone and if you can't handle them as a writer, you might need to consider not reading reviews.
  • Readers want different things. You can't please everyone. 
  • Sometimes readers might have a point in a review that will help you improve your craft.

I'm going to add a point here, though: you can't let reviewers push you around. 

Now reviewers don't mean to push you around. I've discussed before that a lot of reviewers don't expect writers to read their reviews at all. Especially if they don't generally read indie books. They're just giving their opinions on things they like and dislike within a book, which can be very subjective.

However, I know a ton of writers who say things like, "I got nailed on characterization in a review so I'm really doubling down on that in this book" or "A lot of readers complained the romantic element in the last book was too subtle. I need to make it bigger and bolder!" 

And occasionally the reader/reviewer has made a good point and you can learn and improve.
Other times, they are just expressing a personal preference for a specific sort of writing ... 
In the first post of this series, I told the story of my "confrontation" over characterization in The Force Awakens. In my opinion adding in a bunch of backstory for the mains would've taken that film in the wrong direction, but that viewer apparently wanted it.

And a writer can get a dozen positive reviews and still doubt themselves when that one negative one knocks down an aspect that didn't bother readers one through twelve at all. We somehow want to believe the negative review was more discerning, that they caught us pretending to be "good writers" when we somehow pulled the wool over the other readers' eyes. 

It becomes especially awkward, though, if we know the reviewer on social media and interact with them regularly. We can get caught in the cycle of trying to please that particular reader to the detriment of the other readers who may very much like what we were doing and not want it to change. 

So this is an odd balance, again, because you don't want to close your eyes and ears to potential flaws in your work, but at the same time you can't get pushed this way and that by the opinions of others. 

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Random Interview Saturday! Lea Doue

DISCLAIMER
The H. L. Burke Random Interview is not like other interviews. The questions are all over the place. They have no purpose. Their purpose is their lack of purpose.
There are nine questions because cats, but these nine questions are subject to change without notice, so the questions one person answers may not be the questions answered by the next author.

Today I downloaded an attachment and inside was Lea Doué, begging to get out because it was stuffy in there. I told her I'd release her if she answered a few simple questions.

Lea Doue

Author Bio




A native of south Georgia, Lea currently lives in Nova Scotia, Canada
with her husband, their two boys, a rescue greyhound, and a cat. But,
time, but she also enjoys directing a small puppet team at her
sadly, no dragons. Homeschooling and writing take up most of her
church. The Firethorn Crown, a re-imagining of Grimm's “The Twelve
Chronicles, a series inspired by fairy tales and other stories.
Dancing Princesses,” is the first novel in the Firethorn

The Interview


What weather is your writing? A dark and stormy night? A sunshiny day?
I'd say somewhere in between. It's not all happy-go-lucky, but it's not depressing, either. I like for the sun to be out at the end.
What is the best dream you ever had? Alternately, what is the worst nightmare you've ever experienced?
My dreams are weird, but I rarely have nightmares. And I don't remember details very often. I do remember a purple motorcycle beside a brown pond surrounded by rocky cliffs from sometime in my early teens.
You're the next Disney princess. What fairy tale is your full length movie, and how would you use your new ability to control woodland creatures?
Okay, what if I were one of the 12 Dancing Princesses ('cause my book). Doesn't matter which one, and we'd ride dragons, and the woodland creatures would follow us out of loyalty. No controlling necessary.
Would you rather travel to the past or the future?
Neither. I'd rather travel to the make-believe.
If you had to write in only one crayon color for the rest of your life, what would you choose?
Purple. It's my favorite.
For the length of the day, you can replace all the world's water with one substance of your choice (Don't worry. The sea life will adapt.). What do you choose?
Hmm. I want to say Cherry Coke, but that wouldn't make for a very nice morning shower. It would make swallowing a mouthful of ocean a bit tastier, though.
Sum up your life in five words and two punctuation marks.
What a journey. Praise God!
Congratulations! You are now president of this blog. What's your first executive order?
More purple!
If this question were any question in the world, what question would you want it to be and how would you answer it?
Where's question ten? I don't like ending this on an odd number. How could you do this to me? (Okay, that's two more questions, so we're even now.) ;)


You can connect with her here:




Thursday, May 12, 2016

50 Self-Published Books worth reading

Read Freely is running their annual "50 Self-Published Books Worth Reading" nomination again. Now through June 3rd, 2016, you can nominate up to three of your favorite self-published books to be featured in their top fifty list!
Requirements?
The book must be self-published AFTER June 1st of 2015. It must be available on at least one major retailer site (Amazon or Barnes and Noble) ... and that's it. The only other requirement is that you enjoyed the book enough to want to give it the spotlight.
I admit: I'd like to see my books nominated this year. I have five that are eligible due to their publications dates, and it would make my year for one of them to make the list. However, if you read another self-published book you liked more than mine, please nominate that! Nominate the book you feel is most deserving.

If you did enjoy my books during this last year, here are the five that are eligible:


Lands of Ash
An Ordinary Knight

Cora and the Nurse Dragon
Nyssa Glass and the House of Mirrors
Call of the Waters



Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Readers and Writers: Financial Matters

Readers and Writers: A Delicate Balance


This is part of a multi-part series regarding some potential pitfalls and difficulties on both sides of the reader/writer relationship. It's important to note that different writers (and readers) will have different comfort levels. It has been a surprise for me how many authors suffer from serious social anxiety, it's always important to remember that you cannot own another person and while the writer does not have an excuse to treat another poorly, sometimes they may not, for their own mental well-being, be able to engage with you in the way you would prefer.
This series will focus mainly on things I've observed about writer/reader interactions. It will in no way be a blanket statement of how it is appropriate for all readers to interact with all writers, or vice versa.
Some subjects we'll be covering:



Part Three: Does the reader owe the writer financial support?


There's nothing that will turn writers against readers as fast as money. It makes sense. Authors are often struggling to make a living. Very few of us will actually make enough to be able to "quit our day jobs" and anything that influences one's livelihood has the potential to get heated because it really matters ... and then you have the poor reader who just wants a few hours of entertainment.

Honestly, though, I usually end up siding with the readers when this comes up. I get annoyed with the way authors often try to shame readers to pay more for books ... there's this popular meme that goes around writers circles that laments how people will pay $5 for a coffee but are unwilling to pay the same for a book that takes an author a year to make ... I've broken down on Facebook why I think this is an apples to oranges comparison and also pointed out that plenty of people don't have it in their budgets to pay $5 for a cup of coffee (though if you were to send me a gift certificate for a coffee spot, I'd certainly be happy, hint hint. COFFEE!!!).

It is easy when sales are slow to start a pity party and blame readers for being unwilling to purchase your books and make you a success. However, griping at the very folk who are essentially your customers can make you sound spoiled and entitled.

If you aren't making money, try mixing up your marketing plan. Try writing more books. Try looking at your reviews and seeing if you might need to improve the books you have. Don't turn around and start chewing out readers for being stingy.


Complaining about book prices


Now there are times that readers can get a little annoying on this side of things. I don't think it is particularly polite to complain to a writer about the price of a book, but I have know of people who have gone out of their way to message writers about this. If you think the price of a book is too high, you can buy another book. You can request the book at a library. You can wait patiently to see if the book goes on sale ... but pricing the book is the writers decision ...
And yeah, sometimes their decision will be ill-advised. I once saw an indie post saying they were surprised that their paperback sold so much better than their ebook when their paperback was more expensive than their ebook ... so I glanced at their Amazon page, and yeah, their paper back was like two dollars more than their ebook ... but their ebook was like $8.99. If I have the choice between a $9 ebook and a $11 paperback, and I really want that book more than some other $2.99-4.99 book (which tends to be the range most ebook buyers are comfortable with at this time), of course I'm going to buy the paperback. There are a lot of different reasons why the paperback has more value to a reader (ability to resell/regift/loan-easily ... just the emotional weight of having an actual object, etc.).
So if you think a book is priced too high, buy another book. If the writer's sales are low enough, they may eventually reconsider. Don't email the writer griping about it.

Asking for Free Copies


Another time readers might overstep is in requesting free copies. Unless you are collecting donations for a charity, you shouldn't really request free product unless you are adding some value to the author. Now sometimes an author might choose to put their book up for free days for various reasons, and if so, grab the free book! Writers do this for exposure, to gather reviews, and to give readers a taste of their writing so hopefully they'll come back for more, and for the most part it works.
However, asking for a book free isn't any different from strolling into any store and asking for any other product free.
I mentioned above, though, that if you give the author a reason why, then you might have a case. If you are blogger who leaves book reviews, for instance, and the writer wants reviews, it is fine to ask for a book in return for a review ... but don't be upset if the writer says no. 

Unfortunately, Writers DO have bills

As much as most of us would love to have a wealthy patron who supports our work so we don't have to worry about such things, it is true, that we writers live in the same real world as the readers and have expenses ... and while we may write for the love of it, we still have to eat.
Sometimes our production schedules are halted by "Can I afford to pay my editor or cover designer this month?" 
So while buying our books isn't an obligation, it is kind of a win-win because if we had financial freedom, we'd have more time to write as well as less stress and therefore more creative energy. 
So buy a book and feed a writer. 

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Random Interview Saturday! CeeCeeJames

DISCLAIMER
The H. L. Burke Random Interview is not like other interviews. The questions are all over the place. They have no purpose. Their purpose is their lack of purpose.
There are nine questions because cats, but these nine questions are subject to change without notice, so the questions one person answers may not be the questions answered by the next author.


Good morning to you! Hello Class. Today your substitute teacher is CeeCee James. I leave you in her capable hands.
CeeCee James

Author Bio

CeeCee James is a wife, mom, owner of two mini-dashchunds, writer, and watercolor artist. Most of all, she is a survivor. The story about overcoming strife is one that resonates with her. She lived it herself. An advocate for adult survivors of child abuse, her Ghost No More series is her true story of surviving and healing from childhood trauma. CeeCee's blog- http://joyfullivingpafterchildabuse.blogspot.com/

Her fictional series, Wrecked and Yours, is about a pair of siblings and how they navigate life. It's romantic, uncertain and messy, like life often is. It's describes their season to make a choice, "look at life honestly and deal with it, or continue to run away." CeeCee absolutely loved writing it, and hopes it resonates with you because everyone has an important story of what they've overcome.


The Interview



Who is your fictional best friend and what activities do you choose to do together? 
My fictional best friend is Anne Shirley— and we’d definitely be getting into trouble. I still want to try raspberry cordial. 
Your life is being made into a movie. Who plays you? Who plays your love interest? (or who plays your arch-enemy?) 
Well, I always say I feel like one of the three stooges, but someone I can’t picture Curly actually playing me in the movie. So I’m going to dream big and say Reece Witherspoon.
If you could combine any two animals to make a hybrid, what would they be? 
A hamster and a cat. Soft tiny purring goodness.
You find a talking animal. What sort of animal is it and what’s the first thing you do? 
I see Reepicheep. He probably waves his sword at me. Hope he likes me. 
Would you rather travel to the past or the future? 
PAST! So many people I’d like to meet.
If you had to write only in one crayon color for the rest of your life, what would you choose? 
Red, no, Blue. No, Red.  Green. Green’s it.
You can rescue a fictional character from certain death or resurrect them to live again. Who do you save? Alternately, is there a fictional character deserving of death who you would like to destroy? 
I’d save Augustus Waters from The Fault in Our Stars
Sum up your life in five words and two punctuation marks. 
Redemption! Restoration Hope, Forgiveness, Love!
If this question were any question in the world, what question would you want it to be and how would you answer it? 
What’s your motto— Everyone has a story of what they’ve overcome. Every story matters. You aren’t the negative words or actions done to hurt you- You are valuable, needed, talented, and deserving of love.





    Wednesday, May 4, 2016

    Readers and Writers: Friendship

    Readers and Writers: A Delicate Balance


    This is part of a multi-part series regarding some potential pitfalls and difficulties on both sides of the reader/writer relationship. It's important to note that different writers (and readers) will have different comfort levels. It has been a surprise for me how many authors suffer from serious social anxiety, it's always important to remember that you cannot own another person and while the writer does not have an excuse to treat another poorly, sometimes they may not, for their own mental well-being, be able to engage with you in the way you would prefer.
    This series will focus mainly on things I've observed about writer/reader interactions. It will in no way be a blanket statement of how it is appropriate for all readers to interact with all writers, or vice versa.
    Some subjects we'll be covering:



    Part Two: Should the writer be the reader's friend?

    It is my belief that you should be friendly to the best of your ability. No one likes to be brushed off or treated meanly. However, depending on your definition of "friend," most authors are unlikely to be able to maintain a true friendship with the majority of their readers. Now how many readers they will be willing and able to befriend is going to differ wildly depending on the writer's personality, schedule, and comfort zone.

    Schedules


    It's easier with "big names" to understand that they might not be able to answer your emails or letters or interact with you reliably on their social media. It's not personal, but you're one of a thousand voices, and if they spent all their time fielding messages from their readers, they'd never have time to live let alone write.
    However, a lot of indies simply aren't that overwhelmed yet. I generally do respond to emails from readers. I interact with most social media posts on my page. I do not respond to direct messages on Twitter because most of them are spam and I don't really want to bother to figure out which ones aren't. There might (in my wildest dreams of success) come a time where I can no longer reasonably do that ... but that's not likely to be any time soon. 

    So should you (the reader) expect interaction from your favorite indie writers?

    Expect? No. Expectations are problematic for a number of reasons. 

    Personality Types and Interaction

    While it is not universally true, the majority of writers tend to be introverts. Writing is a private and often lonely occupation. A lot of introverts are more comfortable expressing themselves through the written word and so get in the habit of composing their thoughts that way, and introverts are also often readers which can lead to them being writers. 
    For them, their books might be the only way they are comfortable reaching out to the world. The idea of talking to strangers is horrifying. 
    If you reach out to a writer and find them unwilling to respond or only giving you brief responses, they could simply be shy and awkward. 
    I don't even consider myself an introvert, and I still get awkward when responding to strangers online. 

    And even being an extrovert won't save you. I once heard an extrovert writer express worry that they'd never be able to respond meaningfully to all their contacts because they really really wanted to get to know every one of their followers ... yeah, not happening. 

    I'm kind of a hybrid. I am comfortable dealing with people but tend to keep true friends down to a manageable amount. I'm generally speaking busy with my own thoughts. I'm easily distracted. Small talk makes me so so so so so bored. I once backed a coworker into the corner explaining the root causes of the Civil War and I will analyze a book or movie to death with you, but oh gosh ... please, NOT small talk. 
    So while I like people, I sometimes don't know what to do with them. I sometimes wish people came with a menu that told me what things they like to talk about so I could skim through and say, "Medical dramas, no. Romance novels, heck no. Politics ... not in the mood. Ooooh, trying international recipes and new foods. Yeah, I'll have THAT conversation, please." 
     I try to keep my reader-writer interactions personable but professional. I don't necessarily want more from the average reader. 

    Do you really know a writer?


    I think sometimes readers think they know writers from their books, but writing is a lot like acting. When you write you have to wear many faces, to see through the eyes of many different characters, and assuming you know a writer because you read their books is a lot like assuming you know an actor because you've seen them on TV. There might be glimpses of the "real" them here and there, but writers can slip in and out of imaginary worlds, different voices, even different world views as they try to see a story from all sides.  

    So you can't really expect a writer to be your friend just based on you reading their books and a little social media interaction.

    But expectations aside, can writers end up being friends with their readers?
    Of course. 
    Just like you might end up friends with the lady at the checkout stand or your next door neighbor or any other human being you come into contact with ... if you put in the effort. 
    And while I used "IRL" examples above, this can happen online too. I have several internet friends I met in various online communities who I'm still in touch with. In many ways I'm closer to them then I am to the humans I interact with offline on a daily basis. That can happen with a writer. 

    Facebook


    One thing I would caution you about, though: Don't send a writer a Friends request on Facebook. Most writers will have a "page" devoted to their "writer" persona and a profile devoted to their personal stuff. A lot of writers save their personal page for people who meet a very specific criteria. I vet people very carefully before I allow them on my personal profile. I have had too many awful experiences with internet folks (or even people in real life who I may not want to have access to that much of my personal life) to just let anyone in until we've interacted for a bit on "neutral" territory.


    For Writers


    Now, that's a lot of rules for readers, so what about writers? Well, mostly just common sense politeness applies. Usually the first contact ball is in the reader's court, so the writer doesn't have to worry about when to begin the interaction. I'd basically just say to do your best to respond, and try not to follow up every reader interaction with a sales pitch. Try to assume the best about people, even if their message includes a "what did they mean by that?" moment. I think sometimes writers forget that not everyone spends hours obsessing over perfect word choices, and I know a lot who tend to analyze what people mean way too much.

    Creepers ...

     So be polite, try to respond ... but if someone is making you uncomfortable, writers, remember, you don't have to continue the correspondence. If someone messages you frequently and tries to develop a sense of intimacy you aren't comfortable with or wants to know details about your personal life, use common sense. Either tell them to stop or block them. 
    A lot of people think you really shouldn't block without an explanation, but occasionally you will just get a sense you can't really explain that something is "off" about a person and their way of dealing with you. Your personal safety is more important than the loss of a single reader. 
    If the person, especially a person of the opposite sex, starts commenting on your personal appearance, for instance, this is not appropriate. If you wouldn't say it casually to the person making your coffee, you shouldn't say it to a stranger online. 

    Now if you fear not for your own safety, but for the reader's safety, for instance, they said something that leads you to believe they might harm themselves, some social media sites have the option to report this to their admins. Click here for more information