During their recent research for their series on blogging, the editors of TreeHouse discovered a unique and multifaceted blog site written by author Ellis Nelson. They were lucky enough to nab an interview with Nelson and find out more about her site and thoughts on the subject of blogging.
TreeHouse: What initially drove you to create ellisnelson.com?
Ellis Nelson: My blog was created to launch Into the Land of Snows. Even in the small press world, an author is expected to do a lot of promotion. In hindsight, I realize I probably should have been doing this in the years I waited to find a publisher.
TH: From where do you derive inspiration for content?
EN: I’m always reading and researching something so my content comes from that. I have a folder of ideas and topics I someday want to write about. Having some curiosity about the world and being online so much also provides leads and new things to check out.
TH: How much time do you devote to creation and maintenance of the site?
EN: I probably spend a couple of hours a week answering comments and doing basic upkeep. I like to interact with readers and all my pieces remain open for comment and discussion. It’s interesting to see pieces that still draw comments after a year or so. It’s hard for me to quantify the time I devote to creating each blog because I don’t track it. Most blogs are the culmination of reading books and that does take considerable time. The actual writing of each piece takes a few hours, but then there is the proofreading, selection of photos, and research to find links, if necessary. I’m not a frequent blogger because I believe the content should be worth a reader’s investment in time. Right now, I’m tending to post about every two weeks and I know that runs counter to what a lot of other bloggers do.
TH: Where do you see your blog headed?
EN: Although the blog started as a way to promote my first book and establish my footing as a fiction writer, the blog has taken a turn and morphed into something bigger. The blog became a process by which I revealed myself and my online identity took shape. I realized that my personal beliefs and understanding of the world became central to who I was and how I walked in the world. No longer am I content defining myself merely as a young adult author. Now I wanted to share my experiences and understanding with others. I’m very interested in growing a community of like-minded individuals who can feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, resources, and work with the world. I realize my world is not for everyone and I’m okay with that too.
TH: What are the pros and cons of blogging?
EN: For a writer, a blog can help your work get noticed and read. It can definitely be a promotional tool. You start to connect with others who appreciate your writing and your contribution. The blog also allows me to make connections between many sources and crystalize my thoughts on a given topic. It allows me to delve deeply into non-fiction writing and is a balance to the fictional worlds I create. A really good blog takes an investment in time and energy and this can strain the amount of time you can give other projects. So the key is to find the balance that works best at any given time.
TH: On your blog, you offer Yeats: “Mystical life is the centre of all that I do and all that I think and all that I write.” We were attracted to your blog by, among other enticing factors, your interest in the mystical. How did that interest begin? How has it shaped your life and your work?
EN: In 2004 I went through a tough year. My dad died, my son was hospitalized, and I had an incident that sent me to the emergency room with symptoms that looked like a stroke. More medical crises followed and I began to question everything about life. I was drawn to Buddhism and spent years studying and exploring that kind of spirituality. The core of Buddhist practice is meditation and direct experience. Into the Land of Snows is the physical by-product of those years of searching. It represents the shattering of my life and the initiation into a larger quest. The Yeats quote was deliberately chosen to tell the world that my life is centered on direct, transformative mystical experience.
TH: In 2012, Into the Land of Snows was published. Could you share a bit about your publication process?
EN: After a few years of querying to find an agent, I finally signed with one in 2008. He thought the book would be “an easy sell” because it was so unique. It wasn’t an easy sell. I went on to give the agent two more novels, which he also failed to place. While I was still represented by said agent, I subbed Into the Land of Snows to a small company and they signed it after having it only two weeks. I actually opened the email dreading the rejection I was sure would follow.
TH: Your site also provides insightful interviews and reviews of other authors’ works. How important is it to you to reach out to other authors and feature their works on your site?
EN: I think it’s become a crucial focus. From time to time, I may write about something that’s going on in my life or with future books I write, but the main thrust of the blog is to grow a community where others’ ideas and works are highlighted and shared. In the beginning, I went out and looked for authors I wanted to help, but recently, I’m starting to see writers approach me. I’m really enjoying the connections and friendships that are forming.
Ellis Nelson has served as an Air Force officer, government contractor, and teacher. She has had an interest in Buddhism since childhood. Her first book was published by Jupiter Gardens in 2012. She lives in Colorado Springs, CO, with her husband. Visit her blog at www.ellisnelson.com to join a growing community of writers, spiritual practitioners, the open-minded, and the curious. Email contact: himalayaspencerellis(at)yahoo.com. You may also friend Ellis Nelson on FACEBOOK or follow her on TWITTER.
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