Tuesday, January 27, 2015

April A-Z Blog Challenge

Coming soon to a blog near you! At my blog, in April, you get a two-fer! Here’s a sample:

W is for Walk-on Characters

Ever write a story with walk-on characters? [That’s my W word on Day 23.]
Walk-ons shouldn’t be throwaway characters. Nor should they be extraneous. Each character in your story …

Story--W: Day 23
         Will you help? Please?” She sat next to his cooling body, picked up a lifeless hand, and looked up at her captor. “I don’t want to leave him like this.”
         She thought she caught a flicker of doubt in his eyes as he shifted them to the wagon behind her. …

Come back on Day 23 to read more. Better still, mark your calendar to start following me daily (except Sundays) in April. Each day you will get a two-fer! I’ll post a writing tip or tidbit for authors, and then I will post the next segment of a story broken into 26 pieces. Each day’s story segment will begin with that day’s letter of the alphabet. Doesn’t that sound like too much fun???

If you have a blog and haven’t signed up for the most fun Internet challenge ever, now is your chance! Visit the A-Z challenge site
and add your name to the hundreds of others. By April 1st, there will be thousands of us. I just signed up and am super excited for this year’s challenge to begin.

Two years ago I posted on “Romance Righter” about random words. Okay, I was just getting the hang of it. It got better.

Last year I posted on “Parsley, Sage, and Rosemary Time”. This January I was interviewed about my posts on food terms and techniques, and it was published on the A-Z blog site. Yay!

This year I am posting on my third blog, “Write Away”. Trying to share the love. Ya’ll come back in April. Of course, I’d love to have you visit me before that, too. On Tuesdays, I post a new piece. Check out my archives and add me to your blog visitation schedule! I have great fun here!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Twitter for Writers: How to Construct Tweets that Get Re-Tweeted: Part 2

Since I last posted about tweeting, there’s been some water cooler conversation on the author loop for Oak Tree Press authors. The reactions to Twitter range from disdain to delight, from cluelessness to consistent use.

One huge issue for these writers’ is time. SO, I timed myself. It takes me 8 seconds per posted tweet to copy, paste, and send the tweet to my followers. If I am sending 8 tweets in that time period, that is just over one minute to post. Now, additional time does go into the prep for those tweets, but it is not onerous at all. And you can control how many tweets you send a day and when you send them. More time goes into re-tweeting others via from followers or from hashtags. But, again, you have control over when and how much.

So, sorry, no sympathy here for the whiners who say it takes too much time. My response: Just how much time are you willing to allocate to promotion and marketing of yourself and your brand?

Back to work: Two weeks ago, I wrote Part 1   of this post. Too much to do in one post, so I split it. I think I’m going to have a book when I finally finish this series that began last fall! (Okay, a small book.)

So the goal is to be noticed, right? And noticing you means tweeps: a) re-tweet your tweets; b) click on the links you provide; or, c) both. If people notice you they are more likely to follow you.

One way I have found to get my followers to re-tweet me is to re-tweet their posts. I sometimes find them in my Twitter feed, and I re-tweet posts of interest to me and my followers.

On occasion, I click on someone’s name who follows me, and I re-tweet a number of interesting tweets. That brings me to their attention, thus, I am more likely to be re-tweeted. And most of their followers don’t follow me--yet. But by re-tweeting, then I pop up in the Twitter feed of someone else. I always get more followers from the person I r-etweeted followers.

I’ve read that getting the first 10K followers is the hardest. After that it expands easily. I agree with that. I don’t buy followers nor do I follow people who offer to sell followers. I’d rather grow gradually with real followers.

But as I get more followers, I get more re-tweets. Makes sense, eh? So work on growing that Twitter follower base and you’ll get more RTs.

What are some other features to attract re-tweets and/or clicking on links?

Ways to Get Re-Tweeted:
1) Hashtags are invaluable.
I said it in an earlier post I wrote, and I’ll say it again: join into Twitter via hashtags. This exposure introduces you to a wider range than your followers so you get more followers from like-minded folk. These people have tacitly agreed, like you, to re-tweet others with that hashtag. The potential reach for you is in the hundreds of thousands more than your small followers list.

I’ll repeat here the list of hashtags I use regularly:
#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)

2) Be consistent in posting.
Followers start to look for you. I have even gone hunting for some I follow who haven’t posted recently. They come to depend upon your content and rely on you for a consistent presence and flow of consistent information that reflects your Twitter accounts focus.

Post daily, even if only once. And post at similar times. I post two or three times a day--Early morning, midday, and evening. People have tried to figure out the best hours and days, and there are articles all over the Internet on somebody’s study or other.

3) Analyze the highly re-tweeted posts and replicate where possible.
Okay, cute animal and baby tweets can go crazy, but that’s not my content, so I may click on them, I may re-tweet them, but I won’t create them. Not my thing.

Sex also sells, and I do create some of those for @RomanceRighter, as well as relationship topics, also highly re-tweetable. Feel good articles are also popular topics for re-tweeting.

Quotes are one of the hugest areas for re-tweets. Surely you can collect quotes for your account’s focus and re-tweet them. I have pages of quotes to dip into.

Another thing that gets re-tweeted a lot is quirky and odd facts. For @RiverGlynn, I tweet science facts (like the recent “9 Facts about Flatulence”) and info about paranormal happenings.

It’s a good thing recipes are so big in the Twitterverse. @Good2Tweat posts lots of recipes and links to recipes. I get tons of followers that way since we have a shared interest.

In fact, “how to do” tweets on just about anything is appealing to re-tweeters.

4) Be Yourself--whoever that persona is.
Related to number 3, being yourself is a feature of consistency. Followers do not expect me to retweet sex facts from @Good2Tweat, but @RomanceRighters followers expect it. So build a consistent persona and tweet accordingly. Authentic tweets get re-tweeted because you met your followers expectations.

5) Share “personal” information.
No, I don’t mean what you ate for breakfast. Yawn! Nope, share things that are important to you, like the birthday of a favorite author and tell why he/she is a fave. Or share that you are struggling with a knotty plot point and ask for help. Share the steps you are using to prepare for NaNoWriMo. This is also part of being authentic. You are a working author. That intrigues lots of people.

6) Grow your audience, and thus the potential for RTs, by finding influencers in your area of expertise.
You write like Michael Connelly so might follow him (he’s unlikely to follow back) and then cherry pick some of his followers to also follow. These are people who selected him because they like his tweets. After you follow some of them, go to those profiles and RT some of their tweets to get their attention. Many will follow you back, because like you, they are NOT Michael Connelly, but they want to hang with people LIKE M.C.

7) Use the handles of others when posting whenever possible.
When I have guest bloggers or I am posting on someone else’s blog, I tweet about it, and I use that person’s handle. @SuziAuthor has followers who see my tweet. I hang out with Suzi, well, that might be enough to entice them to follow. I sometimes mention other authors when sharing personal information. New eyes see my handle and I get followers. Again, the more followers you have the more RTs you get. Basic math, eh?

Using Twitter for authors continues next week. Stop back in to see some specific ideas for how to use Twitter for marketing and promotion of your books. Once you have built a following, you have folks to sell to.

If you haven’t visited my website recently, Sharon ArthurMoore-Author, please go by to check it out. It looks VERY different (and needed to!). 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Guest Post: "Writing is Not for Wimps" by Sue Faris Raatjes

I am so happy to introduce my readers to a new author I recently met, Sue Faris Raatjes. She is publishing her first book very soon, and I know you'll find this post supportive of both new and experienced authors. Welcome, Sue!

Discipline is a dirty word. We cringe when we read it, especially when self- comes in front of it. All writers struggle to maintain the self-discipline required to perfect their craft.

I’d like to put a positive spin on this dreaded term by focusing on the root—disciple. A disciple is a follower of someone or Someone or something. A loyal follower. Apply that to your role as writer and think of yourself as a follower of a dream to influence readers. You are pursuing an end product—a piece of writing that gives you pride and joy.

Toss out that dreaded term discipline and replace it with motivation, structure, or perseverance. I like the term doggedness because it conjures up images of growling strength.

Clich├ęs for writers:
·      It’s a marathon not a race.
·      Duct tape yourself to the chair in front of the computer.
·      Adopt a “butt in the seat” philosophy.
·      Quit whining and just do it.
·      Writing is 20% inspiration and 80%...well, you know the rest.

These all are good, but are worn-out and guilt-producing. If you are holding down a job, managing a home, caring for others, and you’re developing a writing career, you probably have the discipline-thing worked out. You forfeit sleep, streamline your life, eat more take-out, or ignore relationships in order to fit writing into your bursting schedule.

For those with more time to write (and fritter away), it helps to adopt a work attitude. I tell myself I’m off to work when I sit down at the computer. I take coffee breaks and lunch breaks, but that’s about it. No goofing off at work. Good thing there are no co-workers to distract me. (Best part is I don’t have to dress up or do my hair.) I’ve considered hanging an old-fashioned time clock on the wall of my den so I can punch in and punch out.

Word-count Discipline:
Someone once said, “To improve any piece of writing, cross out every other word.” A little tongue-in-cheek but the message is good. We not only have to be dogged about our time but also our wordiness.

As a writer for the Christian market, I enjoy devotional writing because it forces me into a specific word count. Devotionals usually are limited to 300 to 350 words. It’s a great exercise that requires the elimination of superfluous words in order to meet the required number. Why use two adjectives when one strong one will do the job? It forces me to eliminate meaningless, unnecessary verbiage. There’s no room for fluff.

I serve on a volunteer editorial panel for the Arizona Republic. Each week we receive a question dealing with current events to which we respond in one hundred words. Editors select four answers and publish them in the column titled AZ Talk. It’s an exercise in brevity. If it’s a question I feel passionate about, I easily can create a 150-word response. Then I delete until I get to the golden 100, revealing a nugget of powerful writing.

Give yourself an assignment with a limited word-count to see what it feels like. At first it’s devastating to delete beautifully worded prose. After a while, though, you get into the swing and see your writing is improved, tightened up. It’s very Hemingway-esque.

Rewards and Inspiration:
It’s tough being a writer. The rewards are slow to come, if they come at all. It helps to be self-driven, goal-oriented, or just plain stubborn. Find out what inspires and motivates you and shower that generously on yourself.
·      Gourmet coffee and/or expensive chocolate
·      An encouraging friend who thinks everything you write is wonderful (Thanks, Mom)
·      An inspirational quote hanging on your wall

Here are three items that keep me plugging when the gas tank is empty:

1.     “Write. Finish what you start. Make it great. Then do it all again.” (Chuck Wendig, Writer’s Digest, February, 2014) (The “finish” part is for me.)
2.     An article from the newspaper titled, “Author publishes 1st Novel at age 85.”
3.     A poem, “On Being Happy,” from a greeting card I received thirty years ago that talks about singing a song, painting a picture, or writing a poem that no one hears or sees or reads. It ends with: “Then one day/ I sang my song/ and I read my poem/ and I saw my picture/ and I knew why/ and I was happy.”

Congratulations for choosing to write. Most people don’t have the skill, inspiration, or perseverance to do what you are doing. Be proud of yourself. You are a disciple following the dream of changing lives through your words. Your brain connects with other brains and that is a formidable task. Wimps need not apply.

Coming Soon!

Route to Survival by Sue Faris Raatjes

(a novel published by WestBow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson-Zondervan)

Support systems crumbling? In Route to Survival Kate Mitchell shows how to make wise choices in tough times. You’ll live through it, but you won’t look the same!

Sue Faris Raatjes is a former high school English teacher and writer with credits in various Christian magazines. She’s taught Bible studies to all ages for many years. She has four children, ten grandchildren, and lives in Phoenix with her husband, Bob.

Social Media Contacts:

Blog: “Grow with God” at www.sueraatjes.blogspot.com

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Twitter for Writers: How to Construct Tweets that Get Re-Tweeted, Part 1

Have you been noticing how you are drawn to some tweets more than others? Tweeps (people who tweet) who get re-tweeted present the information they are posted in an appealing way and/or they choose topics that are popular with people at a certain time (trending). In this post I will begin the conversation on re-tweetable posts and continue it in two weeks.

What is a Tweet?

1) In 140 characters (spaces count as characters) you try to grab a reader’s attention.
That’s not a lot of room to express yourself. We novelists are used to mounds of words we can roll around in and toss about like fallen leaves. It took me a while to get the innate sense of how much to write and to develop some strategies.

If you tried tweeting your own content, you might have noticed the countdown in the Twitter message box. You’ll get better. For now, modify the message into two messages or use abbreviations. When splitting in two end one with ... and begin the continuation with …  That is the shorthand that tells tweeps there is more than one part.

One huge help for me was I tweeted a lot of recipes using Maureen Evans, author of Eat Tweet, as my guide. Every once in a while, I have to break the recipe into two parts, but mostly I get it in one. Here’s an example from @Good2Tweat (the food/culinary mystery focus is where I got my Twitter handle):

Gelato 2cmlk/1c cr+4egylk/.5csug Beat egz/sug 2 froth Wrm mlk/cr 2 foamy Slo por egz n2 mlk Ck 2 thck Sieve Chil ovnit N2 icecr mach Srv~4

Can you read it? Tweets often use abbreviations to save space. So while it is better to write whole words, people sort of expect the abbreviations.

2) When writing tweets, engage the reader with a question or provocative statement.
I wrote a post right before Halloween for “Romance Righter” on hybristophilia, a mental condition of women who fall in love with monstrous men. It was re-tweeted that week a moderate amount. But in mid-November, a young woman announced she was marrying Charles Manson. I re-posted my tweets and they went crazy. Lots and lots of re-tweets and many more blog post views! Here’s one:

Puzzled over young woman marrying Charles Manson? She’s probably a hybristophiliac #amwriting http://angelicafrench.blogspot.com/2014/10/women-who-love-monsters-not-just-any.html

Here’s one I tweeted during the holidays:

I am anti-Elf on the Shelf and so is she #ShareBlogPost http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2874808/Elf-Shelf-conditions-children-accept-surveillance-state-argues-professor.html

Both tweets share a common element: an attempt to engage the reader. That is a basic element in writing tweets people click the link on and/or retweet.

3) Maximize the potential to be noticed.
Use # sign (hashtags I posted about in December) to call attention to yourself to get followed and re-tweeted by people with like interests.

4) Tweet throughout the day to get to your followers in different time zones.
However, if you can only tweet twice, the recommendation I read is 9 am and 4 pm. You want people to begin noticing you. Irregular tweeting doesn’t build followers.

5) There are two ways to post tweets.
There’s a little feathery thing in the upper right of your tweet feed. You can click that to post a tweet. Or, and this is what I do, you can put your tweet into the box at the top of your feed labeled “What’s happening?”

6) Shorten the link you are tweeting to save space and keep tweet from looking cluttered.
For example, you want to tweet the link to a book title sold on Amazon.

These are two of the most used link-shorteners. The first is far and above the most used tweet shortener, but choose whatever you like best.


Here’s the link I wanted to tweet for my friend Kathy Weyer’s book Stitches, her women’s fiction novel:

That’s a bunch, isn’t it? Shortened on bitly.com, it came out like this:

What a difference, eh?

7) What to do if retweeted or put in an on-line newspaper.
Common courtesy says we should thank people who RT tweets. But that really clutters your Twitter feed.
I don’t thank everyone, but a frequent RTer gets two things from me: a periodic TY and re-tweets of that person’s content.  Replying to my frequent RTers also gets me in front of their followers eyes.

I always thank a newspaper for including my tweet in the paper and I refer to the content in the reply. I get lots of followers that way.

Don’t just RT, engage. People will ask you questions or reply to one of yours. Engaging with them makes you more likely to be re-tweeted.

More on how to tweet and tips in two weeks.

Next week we have a guest poster! Sue Raajtkes will be here to share “Writing is Not for Wimps”. Be sure to pop in and see what she has to say.