Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Out with the Old Resolutions, In with the New Goals

Cleaning emotional house is sort of what this turning-of-the-year holiday is all about. We reflect. We anticipate. We rue. We rejoice. It’s all part of that “year in review" thing we do in late December and early January. No doubt this reflection is the impetus for the old custom of “making New Year’s Resolutions”, which, if they’re lucky last a week or two. Maybe even three if you bought into the debunked theory that it takes 21 days to turn a behavior into a habit.

But it didn’t become a habit in 21 days, did it? Not even with a resolve to do so. And it fell off your radar with some regrets, but let’s face it, with no real surprise.

The dictionary definition for "New Year’s Resolution" that best fits is “a firm decision to do or not do something.”

Why does that “resolution” fall short of becoming a habit? New research indicates that it will likely take more than two months for a new behavior to become automatic, to become a “habit”. Whew. That would explain a lot about why those resolutions fall by the wayside and that making New Year’s Resolutions is the butt of many jokes.

Still hope does spring eternal and the buzz of good intentions brings the hope this year will be different with resolutions made.

But what if we didn’t make resolutions? What if we set goals? SMART goals--specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and time-bound?

Here are some of my goals for 2015. Some of them I expect to become habits (like drinking more water and exercising) while others are goals to meet and be done with. And given a sound mind in a sound body, I am focusing in personal goals on my health. And if I lose some weight, even better.

1) Walk an average of 10,000 steps a day at least 5 days a week for six months.
2) Return to WBV water aerobics class for at least three days a week through Mid-May.
3) Plan weekly food menus and shopping lists for six months to control food costs and portion sizes.
4) Make a daily list of tasks that can be accomplished that day.
5) Keep 16 ounces of water at my computer desk during morning writing sessions.
6) Get up and get active for the five minutes between pomodori writing sessions.

1) Write for six pomodori at least five days a week.
2) Use the tomato timer to attack clutter piles for two pomodori a day for at least two days a week for eight weeks or until piles are gone.
3) Complete first draft of Prime Rib and Punishment by the end of January.
4) Send edited draft of Prime Rib and Punishment to editor by mid-February.
5) Send revised draft of Prime Rib and Punishment to publisher by end of February.
6) Complete first draft of Potluck by the end of February.
7) Send edited draft of Potluck to editor by mid-March.
8) Send revised draft of Potluck to publisher by the end of April.
9) Post two book reviews to Amazon each month.
10) Use 9-step plan to organize Ancient Grease, book four, by the end of June.

Is this too ambitious? I guess we’ll find out. At the end of six months, I’ll take a look at where I am with goals without beating myself up. I’ll make revisions, additions, deletions, and set up the next six-month goals.

I’ll let you know how it goes. What are your goals/resolutions and how do you intend to meet them?

Next Week: More on Twitter for Writers

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Twitter for Writers: Hashtags are Presents to Open

Wow, this is a big topic. No wonder Rayne Hall wrote her Twitter for Writers book. Too much! You know this is only a Twitter starter kit, right? There is so much more to Twitter than I will deal with in my posts. But, enough whining, today we focus on hashtags.

You probably noticed hashtags (#wordorphrase) in my examples in last week’s post about collecting tweets and sending tweets. Like this:

A month of ideas for “What Can I Write on My Blog Today?” #amwriting #MondayBlogs http://angelicafrench.blogspot.com/2014/12/a-month-of-ideas-for-what-can-i-write.html

1) Hashtags are one of the ways to get yourself re-tweeted by others. A hashtag is a label that gathers tweets with the same hashtag in one place. So, if you have an interest in writing, you might visit #amwriting after you finished your tweeting.

Use the search feature to find topics people are tweeting about by putting #amwriting (or #mystery or something else) into the search box and hit the little magnifying glass for the search. A list of tweets in chronological order with most recent first will pop up on the right. Scroll down and find some links you might want to explore and/or re-tweet. When you add a hashtag to your tweet, others might do the same.

Some hashtags are “live” 24/7. For example, #amwriting is always available. Others like #MondayBlogs (only blog posts, no book promos) only are used on Mondays. Posting other times, or not sticking to the blog-post-only rule, is bad form. Others will notice that you are abusing the hashtag and may not retweet you!

You can start your own hashtag category. But if you don’t let people know about it, they won’t use it, so what’s the point. I started one for sharing old (or new) blog posts (no books) on Thursdays. So each Thursday I post the hashtag rules on Facebook and tweet about #ShareBlogPost to build up an audience. Each week, I have more people using this hashtag. So my tweets are being sent to tens of thousands more people than would be true if I only tweeted from my accounts.

Here’s the deal with one-day-a-week hashtags. If you post to there, you need to visit the site two or three times that day and re-tweet others. That’s how it works. If people only used the hashtag, the tweets would just sit there undistributed. It only works if people re-tweet and/or visit the link in the post. 

2) Another thing I like about a topic-focused hashtag like #amwriting over the more general topic ones is that I can get a bunch of possible links to information on something I am interested in. I can scan #amwriting to find tweets on character development or plotting. They stay there, accumulated, so I can go at any time to peruse topics.

And I am shameless. If someone has a good topic, well, I can do my spin on that for a blog post I write. These hashtag sites are a great resource for topics for your own blog posts or novel topics.

Here are some of the hashtags that I regularly use. Not every tweet and not all at once, but I attach these more than others.

#SundayBlogShare (Sundays for blog posts only)
#MondayBlogs (Mondays for blog posts only)
#WWWBlogs (Wednesdays for blog posts)
#ShareBlogPost (Thursdays for old posts mostly, can be new)
#ArchiveDay (Saturdays for old blog posts)
#BlogHer (any day)
#WriteTip (any day for writing tips, not promos)
#amwriting (any day)
#amreading (any day)

3) A third use for hashtags is to have a Twitter party or gathering of like-minded folks. #StoryDam does this on Thursday evenings and authors have used it for a book release party using their #MyBookTitle (fill in your title) hashtag. Everyone in “attendance” attaches that hashtag to posts so everyone can see it at the same time. These gatherings can be even more frantic than the Facebook events you may have attended. Items get lost in the Twitter feed and sometimes you don’t know what was being responded to. It is critical at those parties to not only use the hashtag, but the @name you are responding to so the person has a shot at seeing it.

Having said that, it is like being at a cocktail party where everyone is talking at the same time. LOTS of energy, and you will no doubt find some new folks to follow who have interests aligned with yours. Bright and glittery things will attract your attention! It is crazy fun!

More on hashtags coming as well as the specifics for constructing a tweet that will get re-tweeted. Come back next week! Same time, same place!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Twitter for Writers: How to Collect and Send Tweets

Let me make a plug here for a terrific book recently released by Rayne Hall. Rayne writes novels, but she also writes great little how-to books that are specific and targeted. Her book, Twitter for Writers, is absolutely worth getting. This blog series (Thanks for the title, Rayne!) is Twitter 101. Rayne takes you through the entire undergraduate program and into grad school for Twitter. Seriously. This is a thorough tome.

Now onto today’s business. I told you to just read tweets for this past week. You may even have clicked on some links or re-tweeted others. Great! Now you are going to prepare to start posting. As a caution, like any of the social media sites, you can get sucked into a huge time drain. DO NOT LET THAT HAPPEN. I will address time management strategies in another post. For now, give Twitter a KISS (Keep It Short and Simple).

Caveat: When thinking to re-tweet something, make sure it is real content and not a link to a promo site or malware. Always check out the link to be sure it’s a good one you want for your followers.

Today, I deal with tweet content and the next two weeks will be how to construct and post tweets that will get re-tweeted or otherwise passed along by others.

What do I get tweet?
Nobody knows the exact percentages, but everyone says you’ll get more real followers and better engagement with your followers if you mostly tweet content related to your account’s focus. You remember. That stuff you put in your profile letting others know what you are writing.

What is content? I tweet a lot of links to articles I’ve perused, my relevant blog posts, factoids, quotes, daily holidays to be aware of, friends’ book releases, and other stuff along those lines. I also re-tweet others’ content on blogs.

I try to stick to 80% content (including links to my blog posts) and 20% book promotions (buy-my-book links and review links). That means, if I have 20 tweets on @Good2Tweat, I mostly stick with only 4 tweets about buying my book spread out across the day.

Here’s my system:
1) I read news articles on two sites first thing every morning. Some articles catch my attention because they’ll be of interest to my readers. I click on the article, “Five Painful Steps for Dating in the New Year”. Hmm. My readers at “Romance Righter” would like that.

2) I create six tweets for that article, one for each of the points and one that is just a link to the site. [That’s your formula. Points listed + 1.} These tweets write themselves since you are just using the points listed in the article. The tweets will be distributed across the number of times you post your tweets.

5 painful steps for dating in the new year: Find the dating site right for you http://www.hlntv.com/article/2013/12/31/online-dating-new-years-resolution-love?hpt=hp_bn17

5 painful steps for dating in the new year: Fill out your profile http://www.hlntv.com/article/2013/12/31/online-dating-new-years-resolution-love?hpt=hp_bn17

5 painful steps for dating in the new year: Keep filling out your profile http://www.hlntv.com/article/2013/12/31/online-dating-new-years-resolution-love?hpt=hp_bn17

5 painful steps for dating in the new year: Stress over your pictures http://www.hlntv.com/article/2013/12/31/online-dating-new-years-resolution-love?hpt=hp_bn17

5 painful steps for dating in the new year: Find true love http://www.hlntv.com/article/2013/12/31/online-dating-new-years-resolution-love?hpt=hp_bn17

5 painful steps for dating in the new year http://www.hlntv.com/article/2013/12/31/online-dating-new-years-resolution-love?hpt=hp_bn17

3) I file these created tweets in a document labeled “Future RR Tweets” (or for one of my other Twitter accounts).

4) Repeat steps 1-3 until I have a collection of future tweets. I do several articles a day, every day, so I never run out of content to tweet. You need to start yours.

5) I create a document for the 2014 year for Romance Righter (and my other two blogs. I use this doc all year to collect tweets for daily posting. I work ahead a couple of days so I am always ready to post the next day.

Here’s part of one day’s collection:
December 15, 2014
Food Holiday: National Lemon Cupcake Day  ‘Tis the season for citrus. My lemon tree is loaded!

For Lemon Cupcake Day try Daisy’s Mini-Lemon Cupcakes http://shine.yahoo.com/shine-food/daisys-mini-lemon-cakes-062800520.html

Here’s another good lemon cupcake recipe: Lemon-Ricotta with Lemon Frosting http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/lemon-ricotta-cupcakes-with-fluffy-lemon-frosting

Pinterest is yet another way for authors to develop and promote their writing #amwriting #MondayBlogs http://otpblog.blogspot.com/2014/12/pinterest-another-way-to-develop-and.html

No need to struggle with blog post topics. Try these. #amwriting #MondayBlogs http://angelicafrench.blogspot.com/2014/12/a-month-of-ideas-for-what-can-i-write.html

Many thanks to Heather Rivera for including MISSION IMPASTABLE in her book lovers gift-giving guide blog post! #MondayBlogs http://www.heatherrivera.com/2014-holiday-gift-guide/

A month of ideas for “What Can I Write on My Blog Today?” #amwriting #MondayBlogs http://angelicafrench.blogspot.com/2014/12/a-month-of-ideas-for-what-can-i-write.html

@PRNancarrow makes the case for NOT knowing your audience when blogging #MondayBlogs #amwriting http://paulareednancarrow.com/2014/12/15/4-great-reasons-not-to-know-your-blogs-target-audience/#comment-2265

If you like to write #mysteries try a PI mystery with these elements #amwriting #MondayBlogs http://writeonsisters.com/mystery-2/mystery-mysteries-13-elements-private-investigator-mystery/

Elements to include in your #steampunk #mystery #amwriting #MondayBlogs http://sharonarthurmoore.blogspot.com/2014/12/how-to-write-steampunk-mysteries-in-11.html

You can see a blend of referrals to my blogs, book promos, food content, and referrals to others’ sites.

6) I create 2-3 versions of tweets for each tweet’s content and file them in my year-long document for specific days. That allows me to post about the blog post more than one time each day. Twitter won’t let you send the exact message more than once a day. Here are some versions for the same blog post:

No need to struggle with blog post topics. Try these. #amwriting http://angelicafrench.blogspot.com/2014/12/a-month-of-ideas-for-what-can-i-write.html

Trouble identifying fresh topics for your blog posts? Read this and see if it helps. #amwriting http://angelicafrench.blogspot.com/2014/12/a-month-of-ideas-for-what-can-i-write.html

A month of ideas for “What Can I Write on My Blog Today?” #amwriting #MondayBlogs http://angelicafrench.blogspot.com/2014/12/a-month-of-ideas-for-what-can-i-write.html

When it is time for me to post to Twitter, I open the appropriate doc, highlight the first entry for the day, copy it, and then paste into the Twitter message box, and hit “Tweet”. On to the next one until I am done with that session.

Okay, that was quick and full of detail. This week, try posting the article points idea and links to your book(s). 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Twitter for Writers: Twitter Doesn't Mean Fritter

Let me say, it’s nice to be back after my hiatus. I was posting at another blog, but it just didn’t work out so I bailed to return here. I did keep up my other two blogs (www.sharonarthurmoore.blogspot.com and www.angelicafrench.blogspot.com) while gone, but I missed you guys! 

Twitter is ubiquitous. We’ve all heard the stories of tweets that go viral. And wouldn’t I love that to happen with one of my tweets about one of my blog posts or book titles?

I have vociferous friends who refuse to tweet, calling it yet one more time waster. They’d rather be writing (so would I) then spending time contacting virtual friends in the Twitterverse. But, as a realist, I know my professional reality is marketing my work as much as writing it. And Twitter gives me a good ROI, return on investment.

This week, I’m starting a series of posts on Twitter for Writers in which I will simplify the world of Twitter, what it is and how it works, as well as strategies use it more efficiently for your purposes.

In a nutshell, Twitter can help drive traffic to your blog and to book selling sites. Eye-catching tweets gets re-tweeted to others followers and captured in some of the hundreds of on-line Twitter newspapers. You build trust, name recognition and followers so that when you tweet something, they want to help you spread the word.

I believe that at minimum an author ought to have a regular blog with content (not just book
promotions), an author page (or several) on Facebook, a presence on sites like Goodreads, and a few Twitter accounts. On Facebook, authors should belong to and actively participate in affinity groups who are potential readers of your work. Anything you do beyond that is the gravy on the mashed potatoes.

Notice I said “a few Twitter accounts”. I’ll be addressing that topic more fully in an upcoming post on maximizing Twitter coverage.

Twitter is unique among social media venues for several reasons. To me, the biggest are you have limited message space (140 characters), and you have the potential to contact hundreds of thousands more beyond your own set of followers. Even more than Facebook, the reach can be astronomical.

First, a little history. Twitter was created in mid-2006 (and there are some interesting, and conflicting stories around the creation that you can investigate on your own), and by the fall it had thousands of users. As of stats from 2012,
100 million users posted 340 million tweets a day! As of 2014, there are more than 500 million Twitter users with more than half being active users.

That’s a lot of potential audience for buying your books.

So what is Twitter and how does it work?

You set up one or more free Twitter accounts at https:twitter.com and then you find some people to follow. Select a few, click you want to follow, and then watch the Twitter feed those users send. The messages they send are called “tweets”. Watching what the feed looks like, how people grab your attention with their tweets and what others do with those tweets is the best way to learn.

First, setting up your account(s):
Choose a name to identify yourself to your followers. I messed up when I did this. I chose “cute” names, not name easily searchable for those wanting to find my books or blogs. Today, I would choose my author names as most of my friends have done. You can search for @CarynMcGill or @BreaBrown or @JoannFluke. You can’t find me with @Good2Tweat or @RomanceRighter. So do it right. Pick Twitter handles that are the names you write under--like I should have.

Create an intriguing author profile. Be sure to list a book title so it’s in view. Pick an avatar for your profile. Right now I’m using book covers for two and an odd science picture for the last. Some people have fancy backgrounds. You can do that, but at first, concentrate of learning the system.

Second, selecting people to follow:
You know author names who write what you write or people whom you admire and want to know more about through what they reveal in tweets. Use the search function at the top of your account and type in a name. If they have an account it will pop up along with the Twitter handle they use. All Twitter handles begin with @.

Click to follow the selected people. Their tweets will start showing up on your homepage. Re-tweet what you find interesting. This calls their attention to you. If you regularly retweet them, they may follow you. No guarantees.

To find others to follow, I go to the homepage of a person I’m following and see who they follow. I select more people from those lists. You can rather quickly build up your Twitter feed. [Caution: Twitter puts limits on following people I’ll address in a later post.]

I follow most of the people who follow me. I do not follow blatant advertisers nor people whose tweets I find annoying or objectionable. I can’t stop them (normally, but there is a way) from following me, but I don’t have to follow back.

Some people I follow will never follow me back, but I still want to read their tweets. It was a huge thrill when I got a follow from Emeril Lagasse! I immediately followed back. Well, he (or his PA) was just getting started so they followed anyone food related. Now that he has over 650K followers, he only follows 950+. I am not one!

Third, a few basics:
You’ll notice a range of options under a tweet. You can send a message to a tweeter. You can re-tweet the message. That sends it to anyone following you. You can like it so much you file the tweet in your “favorites” list. And there are more things.

Many tweets come highlighted. Some of the highlights are live links so you can go to the site they are promoting. Some of the highlights are hashtags so that tweets marked with # get collected so you can go read just those tweets. I am doing a post or two on hashtags and their use.

I hope this starter kit will entice you to try out Twitter. Set up an account and just read tweets for a week until I post the next segment of this series. See you back here for more!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

I'm Baaack! New Topics and An Invitation

Hey, all of you wonderful people. I am re-activating this blog for general writing issues. I'm starting a series on Twitter; what it is and how authors can make it work for them. I hope you find it useful. I also will do more with other business-end topics just as in the past.

Stop back by next Tuesday and see what I am talking about.

Also, authors, if you are looking for a spot to guest post, I have three blogs. Pick the one that matches you best and send me a proposal at LEADMoore@gmail.com for what you'd like to do. Your post will be up for a week, and I promote it on FB and Twitter. I assume you will, too!

You could guest post on an appropriate topic or be interviewed by me. You would send me the well-edited post, a head shot, book cover(s) mentioned, and links for my readers to find you.

Pretty simple, eh? Take a look at my blogs and see which fits you best.

So contact me at LEADMoore@gmail.com if you want to appear on:

Write Away (general writing issues related to producing and marketing fiction)

Parsley, Sage, and Rosemary Time (food issues/recipes, mystery writing, women's fiction, historical fiction)

Romance Righter (relationship and/or romance issues, chicklit, or romance literature; can be adult content)

Also, I would be most appreciative if you'd buy one (or more!) of my books and leave an Amazon review! Reviews are so important to authors. Thanks in advance!