Monday, May 31, 2010

Adapting Our Writing Routine…and How to Survive Your Kids’ Summer Vacation

Chloe and I have coffee I have a week and a half until my children’s schools let out for the summer.

This time last year, I was completely horrified at that realization.

This year? Not so much. Because I managed to write the better part of a novel over summer break last year. It had to be done…I was under a deadline. I developed my own routine last summer.

Now I’ve got a routine for every occasion, not just summer break.

Please pop over to the Meanderings and Muses blog where I outline some different writing routines for whatever kind of day you might be facing!

Sunday, May 30, 2010



First of all, I’d like to make a little plug for my upcoming release, Delicious and Suspicious, written under my Riley Adams pen name. Today, my book is reviewed on Mason Canyon’s book blog, Thoughts in Progress. I hope you’ll pop over and visit there.

And now, Twitterific. Here are writing links that I’ve posted to Twitter for the past 7 –8 days. If you’re looking for a particular topic, just plug in your keyword into the search box at the top left-hand corner of the blog and the roundup with your subject will come up. To narrow your search down on the page, do a CTRL+F, type your subject, and hit enter.

12 Useful Ways To Get Out Of Ruts--

The Battle Between Money and the Muse:

Self-sabotage and our writing day: @meghancward

8 Rules to Consider Before You Write for Free for the Exposure-- @wmfreelanceconn

How to Incorporate the iPad Into Your Social Strategy--

More On The Writer's Eye--

Seven Things You Should Always Ask A Writer--

Are plays proper literature? (Guardian):

5 Tips to Tame the Social Network Monster-- @BonnieGrove

Who's afraid of Simon Cowell? Tips for embracing criticism:

20 Questions to Enrich Your Setting-- @PauloCamposInk

Why Creatives Are Confused--

Four tips for portraying young adult characters: @p2p_editor

7 Quick-Start Techniques for Fighting the Fear to Write: @copyblogger

8 Reasons No One’s Following You On Twitter-- @marianschembari

How to cope when the publishing game has sucked your soul dry:

Developing Your Talking Points on Your Book:

Editing your novel? A roundup of sound advice:

“I want to keep my e-book rights!” (An editor's post):

How to Never Find Your Passion--

10 tips on preparing a speech in a hurry: @tonyeldridge

Am I doing my research and learning the craft, or am I just putting off writing my story? @meghan78

Check Scenes with GOLF Checklist:

On Theme in Query Letters:

How to form a daily writing habit--

Describing a hero: @Janga724

Why Writer Beware Doesn’t Provide Publisher Recommendations (Plus Some Advice)--

Making time to write:

Title attraction--what should go into title creation?

12 elements of good storytelling: @layindalayinda

Mystery Lovers' Kitchen cookout for Mem. Day wkend-- & @CleoCoyle w/ a coffee-marinated steak--- @kristadavis @AveryAames

4 ways to fuel up for your writing time:

When You Should Stop Slogging Through Writing--

The "Triple T" you need to finish your writing journey on the right foot:

How to write a blog post that has people rushing to your site: @ZiggyKinsella

Elevate your blog posts by well-positioned quotes:

Pace--it's not a race:

Make sure your novel has an edge to it:

Open Letter to Amazon: How Amazon can solve self-pub gridlock with independent rating index. @JohnBetcher

7 Tips on Book Publicity--

Conducting an author interview: @TeresaFrohock

Addicted to Researching? @corramcfeydon

Acknowledging fears of the submission process: @bluemaven

The Hero’s Journey Part 7 – Approach to the Inmost Cave-- @JustusRStone

The bookstore of tomorrow: More than just selling books:

Everything I Needed to Know About Writing I Learned From Lost---

Looking at the BEA (LA Times):

Villains, Heroes, and Second Bananas--

The No. 1 Habit of Highly Creative People:

Barbecue Mysteries: @JanetRudolph

Marion Zimmer Bradley vs. Fanfiction--

Ten Ironies of Writing:

Author, we have a problem (tips for plotting):

BuNoWriMo challenge from @HartJohnson: Write a 50,000 word novel in June RT @inkyelbows

How to Monetize Your Site Without Causing an Audience Revolt--

Verbal Warfare: do you engage in conflict on blogs and forums?

What's taking so long? I want your third book now! (The behind-the-scenes process of getting a book published):

A Word on Literary Fiction---

How we write: The phases of the writer--

An agent with memoir-writing FAQs:

Protagonists--what makes a bad one:

Tips for writing comedy: via @thewritertype

What it's like to work with a mentor:

Writing--it might be simple, but it ain't easy:

Help readers keep your characters straight (video):

What to do with positive and negative feedback: @JodyHedlund

Protagonist and antagonist questions and answers:

As a writer, are you a maximizer or a sufficer?

How to Achieve the Same Benefits of a Guest Post by Leaving a Blog Comment--

Even published writers have their insecurities:

Plot-Driven or Character-Driven Novel? @CPatrickSchulze

One Sentence to Describe My ENTIRE Book?

Ways to gather information to help your writing career:

When you're not the writer you thought you were:

Romance Roots: Jane Eyre--

The Reader Responsibility to Author Direction-

4 warning signs your novel isn't working: (correct link this time.) :)

Which comes first--the title or the story idea?

An agent on getting people to read your book:

Trouble opening your story? @wawriters

15 more things your characters should never do: @VictoriaMixon

Formulating a Plot...Thinking it Through-- @JustusRStone

Top 10 troubled males in fiction (Guardian):

The Importance of a Critique Group-

For Niche Writers – 9 Ways to Make Money in Specialized Markets:

Altering poetry for publication: Good or bad? (Writer's Digest)

Quaint Brits Cling to Paper Books:

What's the best poetry to learn by heart? (Guardian):

Authors: Build Your E-mail List—NOW (Writer's Digest) --

Using conflict to help define our characters: @p2p_editor

10 Ways to Cut Through the Social Media Noise and Be Heard--

Just because you have a finished manuscript doesn't mean you're ready to be published:

When jealousy holds us back:

The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings? Artists’ perspective:

10 signs you're almost finished with your book: @elspethwrites

Arm Chair BEA – How Do I Get to Actual BEA Next Year?

Publishers express fears over price, paperbacks and fragmentation at BEA:

On copy editing--why it works: @BubbleCow

An agent explains why writers shouldn't get too frustrated with rejections:

The Title is…erm?: Recalling Book Titles:

What is an editor?

How many books do you have stored on your computer, waiting for you to write them?

Clay Shirky on Authorship, Wiki novels, and the Future of Publishing

Writing Contests-For and Against--

Writing tips one writer learned from "Lost" : @flawritersconf

8 Reasons To Switch To Windows 7 (If You Haven't Already)--

Visiting schools as a children's book author? Tips for propping up your visit:

25 best true-crime books: @JanetRudolph

Women in Peril in Novels--

When the Muse Leaves, It’s Time to Think—Creatively--

The Hullabaloo with Yahoo! and the Content Mill Debate--

On Rural Fantasy--

From One Young Writer to Another: Develop Your Swag and Stay on Your Hustle-- @litdrift

The Benefit of Critique--

Got writer's block or writer's flab? @CleoCoyle with tips to cure both: @authorterryo

Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? (Barnes and Noble blog)

Neil Gaiman Dust-Up Raises Questions About Authors and Speaking Fees (Huff Post):

8 ways your story needs to be tweaked: @VictoriaMixon

Victoria: A Steampunk Exploration--

Got research? 40 useful sites to learn new skills:

The Difference between an Agent and a Literary Publicist --

NY Times reviews-- less of a big deal:

An author on working with small publishers: @alexisgrant

Publishers Weekly Epic Fail (by JA Konrath): @jakonrath

Writing the Thriller: Keep It Unexpected--

Snow White and Seven Synopses: @Kate_Hart

8 ways to find motivation at home (working at home) :

The battle of discovery in writing (veering off the plot we planned):

What an editor does:

Work for hire vs. royalty writing:

A Showcase of Free RSS Icon Sets for Bloggers--

5 reasons to plan ahead when writing a non-fiction book:

In praise of short stories:

Pippi Longstocking, With Dragon Tattoo (NY Times):

When characters meet--writing introductory scenes: @dirtywhitecandy

Public speaking as a promo tool: @QueryTracker

Writers--be courageous: @wordrunner

Lit Agents Analyze Impact of J.A. Konrath's Amazon Deal-- @GalleyCat

What to do with your novel when you don't know what to do: @dirtywhitecandy

When reality hits our delusions of grandeur: @JodyHedlund

Our characters have to feel to come alive for our readers:

5 things TV teaches writers: @janicebashman

An agent asks if the grass is really greener...with another agent:

Hardening our skin against rejection and revision requests:

Email Marketing: The Killer Monetization Method You Haven’t Tried Yet--

Beyond the Lost Booker: other neglected masterpieces (Guardian) --

The Fastest Way to Increase Your Google Ranking--

9 Unsavory Character Traits of Real Authors: @ZiggyKinsella

On hiring your own publicist:

The Afterlife of Stieg Larsson (NY Times):

2 editors tell how to get past the first reader -- Tips from SCBWI conf @4KidLit

How Online Writing Groups Help You Get Published--

Notes on dialogue:

Light your writing fire:

Character Emotions and You--

Konrath wants a world that's DRM-free:

10 tips for overcoming stage fright:

A Date With An Editor or Agent - 10 Steps To Make You Look Beautiful--

Marketing our passion---or writing for ourselves?

5 books that can save the world:

Mystery writer @AveryAames w/ champagne fondue recipe & the last wk to win bookstore gift cert.: @CleoCoyle @kristadavis

Losing the secondary business can kill you:

If books were used as perfume:

On Amazon Book & Product Recommendations:

A time to write (even without support from our families or friends) :

When adverbs attack--a reminder to use them sparingly. @KD_Miller

40 Beautiful, High-Resolution Wallpapers (for authors who want to spruce up their desktops):

Writing---manners and wit:

Book Signing Fail (photo):

Generality is the death of the novel:

Writing Comes Before Research, Or at Least at the Same Time:

Why Professional Writers Need a Blog. Or Not.

5 ways to improve your online visibility:

After keeping us waiting for a century, Mark Twain will finally reveal all (Twain's autobiography to be released):

Why writers procrastinate--and tips for moving ahead w/ our writing:

Who needs a publisher?

The Bookseller's Patter--

New Wave of Dissent in Tibet Met by Crackdown on Writers---

Tips on non-verbal communication paired with your dialogue:

Konrath on book piracy:

7 things writers need to know today:

Every author wants a great review:

Agatha winner @SandraParshall shares turkey (or not) recipe at @ElizabethSCraig @KristaDavis @CleoCoyle RT @ AveryAames

Twitter for writers--finding other writers, useful hashtags, and how I personally use it (elizabethscraig):

Worldbuilding, or world growing?

Authors and the victim mentality:

50 really cool bookstore blogs: via @cathyskye

Getting non-fiction clips for your writing portfolio:

How to read a publishing contract (part 13):

Ten of the best towers in literature (Guardian) --

A collection of book marketing links:

How to increase the pace of your novel:

Adding up the cost of producing our own Ebook:

3 Sci-Fi writing exercises:

A Contrarian Stance on Facebook and Privacy--

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Trying Something New vs. Branding

blog76 This is a subject I haven’t worked out for myself yet, but I’ve been thinking about it.

There are definitely some authors that, when you say their name, you get an image of a particular kind of book.

Stephen King.

Nora Roberts.

J.K. Rowling.

To a much lesser degree (and I think this mainly refers to genre writers), you have midlist authors who get associated with a particular genre and writing style. If the author has done their job promoting themselves and their books and creating a brand, then the reader is probably going to make an association.

Just among the websites and blogs that I visit, I definitely know who writes what—who writes YA, romance, mystery, steampunk, fantasy, SF.

And there’s a reason for that. It’s usually what the writer likes to read and what they’re good at writing.

Right now I have 2 cozy mystery series and am working on developing a possible third. They’re all set in the South and are humorous.

Not only do I enjoy writing these kinds of books, but they’re easy for me to write. They come completely naturally to me.

But what if you’re trying something completely different?

If you’ve worked on your branding and you have a particular following that knows you write a particular way and then suddenly you switch to a different genre and style, then you could possibly end up with some readers who aren’t happy.

Readers who were expecting one thing and got something else. Especially if you built a brand around it.

While I wouldn’t let my branding stop me from trying something new, I’d approach the marketing carefully, I think.

Yes, you’d want to carry some readers over with you, especially if you’d built up a nice reader base.

But not at the risk of alienating some of those readers by not being truthful about the change of genre.

Pros of pseudonyms in this situation: There won’t be a book buyer perception that limits your scope—they won’t think of you as someone who writes something completely different.

You won’t upset readers who might expect one thing and get another.

You can develop a name but still tie in your other (real) name with marketing. It would be easy enough to put something on your blog page, web page, and social media that says something like “Check Out John Smith’s New Fantasy Series—Written Under his Aaron Felder Pen Name.”

Cons of pseudonyms in this situation:

To some degree, you’re starting over with your reader base. For someone walking through the bookstore and taking a book off the shelf, they’re not going to know you. So you’ll be promoting and building up a whole new name. In a new genre.

Although you can promote your other name through your real name, you’ll still have to do many things twice—promote both names at once and in different genre communities. Maybe not twice as much work if you’ve got a lot of that basic social media structure in place and know how to quickly build it up, but a lot of extra work. So far, since I’ve stayed in the same genre, I haven’t run into any problems promoting both my names online…tied together. But Riley Adams is about to have a Facebook presence really soon.

What do you think? Do you see author branding as something that possibly has a creative downside for a writer?

And a programming note--tomorrow= Twitterific!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Fuel for Your Marathon—by Stephanie Janulis

woman-running (2) Writing a novel is often compared to running a marathon - the necessary training, tenacity, endurance, passion, and sheer will to finish are shared by both endeavors.  I trained for a marathon but never ran the race.  It took a long time for me to look at it not as a failure, but as an opportunity to learn a lesson or two and apply those to a fresh challenge.  I also worked on my first novel for four years and finally put it aside, incomplete.  For that, too, it was difficult to move past the failure mentality but I have and I'm hard at work applying lessons learned to my second novel.

The biggest challenge of my marathon training involved adequate fueling. It seemed like I got the concept of carb loading but I'd lose the energy mid-way through my runs and it was torturous to make it through the next mile.  Unsurprisingly, I had the same challenge with my novel.  There were moments of excitement and bursts of creativity but I found it difficult to carry that inspired, fueled-up feeling when I got into the thick of things.

The lesson learned in both instances is clear - understand the options and use them.  There are a lot of ways to fuel for a run just as there are ways to remain inspired and plow forward during the writing process:

  • Be prepared.  Come armed with an outline if you're a plotter or dig into your character motivations if you're a pantser.  Inspiration is less likely to run away from you if you you have the necessary energy shot in your back pocket.
  • Nurture your creativity.  There are ways to be creative as it relates to your novel be it from collaging, charting, or making soundtracks. Some writers use these techniques during the pre-writing process but why not use them to get over a writing hurdle?
  • Keep writing.  Just like there may be an unexpected water fountain around the corner on your run, there may be a burst of inspiration that comes to you as you plug along to the next chapter.  The quickest way to become uninspired is to stop writing.  Skip to a scene you've been dying to write or experiment with a new plot twist but keep that butt in the chair and those fingers moving.
  • Surround yourself with friends.  There's nothing like a running partner to cheer you on and there's nothing like a friend who writes and understands the every challenge you're facing.  They can often dispense that one tidbit of feedback that's enough to get your fingers typing out that next scene that was giving you problems.

Despite your every preparation, and every fuel available to you, it's still possible to hit the wall.  And when that happens?  Dig down deep. And cross that finish line.

What is your favorite way to nurture your inspiration during the novel process?

Close Up 3 Bio:

A hard-working, shoe-loving insurance executive by day, Stephanie Janulis moonlights as a historical romance writer. She’s currently working on her second novel and blogging at Write Chic, a website that helps writers cope with the literary lifestyle. She also enjoys training for half-marathons, watching Texas A&M football, and eating her weight in Twinkies.


Thanks so much for your post today, Stephanie!  I hope everyone has a chance to pop over to the Write Chic blog which has helpful tips and interesting articles for writers. 

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Someone for the Reader to Care About

Girl with a Book-- Pietro Antonio Rotari--1707- 1762 Sometimes I read books and the protagonists just leave me completely cold.

The books frequently have plenty of conflict. Bad things happen to these characters and we’re supposed, as readers, to care about that.

But…I don’t. And when I get to that point in a book, I might as well just scrap it, and usually do.

This doesn’t mean the protagonist has to be a really good person. In fact, I can read books like the Dexter series by Jeff Lindsay or The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith and pull for the bad guys. That’s only because the authors are really good at what they do—they’ve made these guys likable in a very odd way. They’re smart and funny and unique.

In general, though, I’m looking for protagonists I can relate to or have some sympathy for.

Problems I’ve noticed with books where I don’t care if the protagonist lives or dies:

The author doesn’t get into the protagonist’s head or POV enough. I’m just watching from a distance and not really understanding what motivates their actions.

The character doesn’t seem proactive, only reactive.

The protagonist has no apparent sense of humor.

The character is selfish and only seems to think about how the conflict affects them and their life. This gets a little boring to me after a while.

The protagonist seems whiny.

The emotional range for the character is limited.

The protagonist has no ideas for getting out of the situation they’re in and relies too heavily on other characters for help.

They do dumb things and I lose respect for them.

They do dangerous things and I lose respect for them.

They’re not brave. Even if you’re scared, you can still show a glimmer of courage. Especially if you’re a protagonist and carrying a whole book on your shoulders!

Although these types of books frustrate me as a reader, I think they help me develop stronger protagonists. Have you got any character dislikes that you avoid?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Website and Blog Musts

blog73 An author, or aspiring author, website or blog plays a lot of important roles.

We can entice new readers, sell books, and generally offer a professional image of ourselves to people in the industry or readers.

Also—we can give people a way to contact us. These people could be agents, editors, journalists, book bloggers…or other people who would like to get in touch with us.

Over the last week, I’ve noticed that while many people have Facebook pages and Twitter feeds linked in their sidebar, they don’t have a “contact me” with an email address.

And sometimes, you just don’t want to get in touch with someone on a Facebook wall where their 1200 friends can read your message. Or maybe you don’t want to sign into your Facebook account and go through several steps to email the person’s Facebook inbox (if they’re even on Facebook.) And you don’t want to tweet your message to them, where you have to think in terms of 140 characters.

You want to send an email (says Elizabeth, with some degree of frustration.)

Believe me, I know that if you post an email address that you can get spammed like crazy. I’d be a rich, rich woman right now if all those Nigerian lottery spams were telling me the truth.

But still, y’all—an email address. You can get one for free if you’d like a separate one from your family account. I’m using Gmail, which I’ve been happy with so far. Yahoo and Hotmail both offer free emails.

You can download free “contact me” widgets (which offer a form service) for both Blogger and WordPress. Just Google “contact me widget.”

Or, if you like, you can type this into your sidebar: “Contact Me at elizabethspanncraig (at)” People know that they’ll put an @ symbol in the place of the “at".” Or they should know that, anyway. And the spammer spiders won’t pick up on it as an email address.

What other things should go on our blogs or websites?

The Book Publicity blog recommends (for published authors) your publishing house, agent and publicist info, contact info, and press kit.

The Hey, There’s a Dead Guy in the Living Room blog recommends that we have a domain name that makes sense, buy links, buzz words, clear headers, and organized pages.

I’d say book covers, bio, interviews, headshots, list of appearances, news on upcoming releases, and review snippets.

And an email address. :)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Rearranging Things

blog75 Yesterday I was cooking and opened a cabinet for a Corningware dish.

It wasn’t there.

After a lot of looking, I found it in a completely different location of the kitchen in a cabinet I rarely use.

Did I have a mild stroke before putting it away? Was I under the influence of allergy medication?

Oh. No, my husband had unloaded the dishwasher for me. I reminded myself that that was nice of him. Although he doesn’t seem to know where anything goes.

Then I looked at the location he’d chosen for the dish. He’s the rational side of my brain—which I completely outsourced to him since I’m not very rational. The storage location made very good sense—it was closer to the food preparation area of the kitchen. It was in an uncluttered cabinet, meaning there was less chance of the bowl being broken. It was actually a better location.

Sometimes I get so focused on the way my manuscript is, that I don’t see the possibilities for what it could be.

This seems to happen a lot with a story’s timeline. One of the last books I wrote seemed weak at the beginning, but I couldn’t pinpoint why. The character introduction had gone well, and I’d brought in a little conflict.

I decided to take the discovery of the murdered body and move it up fifteen pages.

This completely changed the beginning of the book. The characters needed to be introduced in a totally different way—one that revolved around the victim more. Because the murder victim wasn’t the most popular person (they rarely are in mysteries), this meant more tension and conflict at the beginning of the book.

Obviously, this is time-consuming—not something you’re going to want to take on unless you notice a weakness in your novel. It’s like reorganizing the kitchen—do you really want to take that kind of task on unless you can see a possible real benefit?

If you do want to rearrange some storylines or events in your book, here are some ways to approach it:

Have a first reader take a look at the manuscript. At the very least, they can point out places where your story dragged. Those are the very spots that might benefit from either adding conflict or reordering the storyline to bring conflict forward and increase the pace.

Take a break from the manuscript and come back later with fresh eyes. It doesn’t have to be a really long break…even a couple of days can help.

I’ve now heard several writers rave over the shrunken manuscript method. Basically, you remove the chapter breaks, single space the whole thing, and reduce the font until the story takes up about 30 pages. Using a highlighter, mark your strongest chapters. You put the manuscript down on the floor in 3 rows of 10 sheets and take a look at the big picture. This is a post from A.B.Fenner who used this method to find and fix problem areas.

Timelines can also be useful to pinpoint problems. Having trouble summing up what’s going on for a particular place in your timeline? That’s an indication there’s an issue, right there.

Have you done any major reorganizing of storylines lately? How did you approach it?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Marketing Lessons from Passionate Artists

Alexander Deineka--Young Girl--1935 This past weekend I ran into a couple of different artists selling their work.

The first time I was at (of all places) Walmart. There was a man in the parking lot, approaching different people with: “Hi there! Do you like hip-hop? You do? I’ve got something for you to listen to that I think you’re going to love.”

Yes, he was hawking his CDs in the parking lot of Walmart. I actually stopped what I was doing and watched him for a few minutes because he was so good at selling his work and so passionate about his music.

He knew his target audience. The people he approached were folks he’d sized up as they got out of their cars. He was smiling and enthusiastic and everyone looked like they were smiling back at him. (No, he didn’t approach me—I think he probably pegged me as someone who listens to lots of old ABBA songs.) :)

Then I ran into the second musician Saturday afternoon when I escaped to a coffee shop to get some writing done. I was surprised to see that a musician was setting up for a performance…it was only 4:00 in the afternoon and I think of coffeehouse music as a nighttime gig.

After I’d worked for a while on my laptop, he started playing some really interesting New Age music.

But, because his listeners were people who just happened to be getting coffee while he played, they weren’t exactly his ideal audience.

One guy actually kept his earbuds in and listened to his Ipod. There was an older man who looked irritated because he was trying to focus on his newspaper.

One member of his audience was a middle aged woman, completely absorbed in a pile of papers she’d brought in. And me. And, naturally, I was just in an agony for him because I’ve been at signings before and had similar turnout.

But he was fine. Oh, he appreciated the smattering of applause that I’d give him at the end of his songs (before I turned back to my writing…the whole point of why I was in the coffee shop to begin with), but he’d played those songs for himself. And if it was background music for the people who were there, then so be it.

To me, these two guys approached their music from two completely different places.

The first guy, in the Walmart parking lot, was just as enthusiastic as the second…just as passionate. But he was determined to get his music into listener’s hands so they could share his enthusiasm.

The second guy wanted to share his music, but in a very laid-back way. Really, he was doing it all for himself and if he could pull someone else in to enjoy it with him, then so be it.

I’m aiming for the middle of the road between the two.

I know who my target audience is. I read what they’re reading, based on bookstore sales. I write what I hope they’ll enjoy reading, based on what I know of the genre. To me this isn’t calculated…it’s my plan for sharing my writing with as many people as I can, and to continue working as a writer in the industry.

But the publishing world is a tough one. There are some quiet book signings. There are some mixed reviews and rough days. During those times, I’m—ultimately—pleasing myself with my writing. Have I tried my hardest? Done a good job? Have I told a good story? Am I proud of myself? That’s what gets you through rejections or hard reviews.

For me it’s a balancing act. I have to come up with a story that I’m excited about that I think will please people who read my genre.

Where is your focus when you write? How do you balance pleasing yourself and pleasing others (and, ultimately, producing marketable books)?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Twitter for Writers

Twitter1 My friend Jan asked me yesterday to elaborate a little more on Twitter—mostly how to make connections to share her blog posts with a wider audience of readers.

So let’s say you’re on Twitter. You have a handful of followers and you are interested in promoting your blog posts or maybe a book.

First of all, you need more followers. How do you do that?

I think the best way is to steadily increase the number of people that you’re following. And you’re probably going to want to target readers and other writers.

There are different places you can find writers on Twitter.

Here are some good places to check out:

Authors on Twitter

Book Trade People on Twitter

More Authors on Twitter

Libraries on Twitter

You could hang out or possibly even be the moderator for a write chat: Check out this article for write chat info

...I've copy/pasted the schedule from the post below. And this article has more in-depth info.

By using hashtags (the pound symbol), you can access conversations on Twitter that revolve around a specific theme. How do you get there? You look on the right hand side of your Twitter home page and you’ll see a search box with a magnifying glass next to it. Type in one of the hashtags below and click the magnifying glass, and you’ll be taken to a page that shows everyone’s tweets on that subject. You’ll be able to see conversations between different parties there, even if you don’t follow the persons involved.

Chats that go on every day (schedule courtesy of Inky Girl)


, #writegoal

, #writingparty

plus others (see hashtag list below)

SATURDAYS: #ScreenwritingSaturday

SUNDAYS: #writechat

, #scriptchat

, #storycraft

MONDAYS: #litchat

, #journchat

, #ThrillerChat

, #pblitchat

TUESDAYS: #kidlitchat

, #poettues

, #FaithLitChat

, WEDNESDAYS: #litchat

, #memoirchat

, #wnw

, #yalitchat

THURSDAYS: #bookmarket

, #JournalChat

, #poetry

, #dnchat

, #kidlitart

, #scribechat

FRIDAYS: #followreader

, #fridayflash

, #litchat

, #scifichat

, #StoryFriday

You can also tag your tweets with hashtags to pick up followers. These are some popular ones (courtesy of Bubble Cow):

Meryl’s Notes also had some good ideas about writer-uses for Twitter. In fact, she dreamed up 50 uses of Twitter for writers.

I'd also recommend participating in #FF and #WW (writer Wednesday). There's also some that do #MM (mystery Monday). I loved doing #FF, but now I have so many followers that the last time I did FF I got some negative feedback for was just pages of return follows that I’d tweeted. So I’m going to have to think of some new way to participate.

If you like, you can also go to my profile page at @elizabethscraig and click on my followers and raid that list. Most of them are writers, readers, or other industry-related folks. Then you can click “follow” on each individual person. You might want to build your list up slowly. Not every person will follow you back. You can use a program like “Friend or Follow” to see who isn’t following you…and unfollow them, in return. There’s no need to have a Twitter relationship that’s a one-way street.

When you have your followers, you’ve got people to promote to, but also to share information with and network with. You could try different kinds of tweets, so you’re not just promoting your blog or book. Try retweeting others’ posts, sharing interesting links, tweeting about something interesting you heard about, etc.

What if you’re completely stumped by Twitter? My friend Krista Davis wrote a great couple of posts—a Twitter 101 and Twitter 202 that can help get you up to speed.

I’ll admit to using Twitter in a peculiar way. I have a good number of followers, but I pay very little attention to my Twitter feed. If someone sends something directly to me (an @ message), then I respond back to them with a DM (direct message)….because I’m trying to keep my profile page completely link-related. All my conversations take place through DM.

Following my Twitter feed would be totally overwhelming to me--seeing 3400 feeds update just makes me feel a little like I’ve got ADHD. Following fewer people would make it easier to read the feed…or else, use the TweetDeck to organize the folks you follow—you can organize the Tweeters by category or by your favorites.

Am I still getting something out of the Twitter experience? Definitely. But for me, it’s all about off-feed conversations and sharing resources and information, and networking. Still, I’ve made some good friends on Twitter and really enjoy the conversations we’ve had.

Hope this helps, y’all. Twitter does have a little bit of a learning curve, but one you get it, it’s pretty basic. And there’s a lot of great information you can get there. If you have any questions, let me know—if I don’t know the answer, I can find it.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Terry3 Here are writing links that I’ve posted to Twitter for the past 7 days. If you’re looking for a particular topic, just plug in your keyword into the search box at the top left-hand corner of the blog and the roundup with your subject will come up. To narrow your search down on the page, do a CTRL+F ,type your subject and hit enter.

And an update--I've gotten the links to go live, but I've lost my more-attractive formatting! I decided to go with functionality over looks. :)

A checklist to help determine if an idea deserves exploration: via SocialOomph Delete George Orwell, Mills and Boon writer: taking literary mashups to the next level (Guardian): via SocialOomph Delete Going pro: via SocialOomph Delete What happens if you write just for the FUN of it? @katmagendie via SocialOomph Delete Why self-pubbed writers are discriminated against in the industry and tips on how to overcome it: via SocialOomph Delete When to start an author's website: @HeatherMcCorkle via SocialOomph Delete The Age of Salander: via SocialOomph Delete Superhero archetypes and how to differentiate yours (Part 1) -- via SocialOomph Delete Musts of personal branding (video): via SocialOomph Delete An agent on including your book's theme in a query: via SocialOomph Delete Covering essential but possibly boring material in your book (too bad there are no montages in novels): via SocialOomph Delete On Pitching To Editors and Agents-- @greyhausagency via SocialOomph Delete Some notes on worldbuilding-- via SocialOomph Delete How does stress affect our characters? @jaysubject via web Delete Some Recommended Reading Re. Publishing and Writing: via SocialOomph Delete Twitter names the #lesserbooks that didn't quite make the shelves (Guardian): via SocialOomph Delete Adapt or perish: why authors need to prepare for the e-book era (by Garth Nix): via SocialOomph Delete Why do freelance for free? One good reason: @ZiggyKinsella via SocialOomph Delete Do you have a story of your heart? via SocialOomph Delete Should you write your way through writer's block? 2 arguments: @RoniGriffin via SocialOomph Delete 5 easy ways to become a blacklisted blogger: via SocialOomph Delete Voice, Gender, Intuition, and Empathy--- via SocialOomph Delete Leave your reader hanging by a thread: via SocialOomph Delete Need more descriptive writing? Set everything to action: via SocialOomph Delete Five steps to building a believable character arc-- @p2p_editor via SocialOomph Delete Keep on writing---lessons from Madeleine L’Engle @Janga724 via SocialOomph Delete How buying a house is like writing a novel: @bluemaven via SocialOomph Delete Learning to Like Facebook--- via SocialOomph Delete Write what you know? via SocialOomph Delete When you're feeling an extreme emotion, use it in your writing: via SocialOomph Delete The right time to write--it's not the *perfect* time, it's when we squeeze it in: via SocialOomph Delete Imperfect Editors-- via SocialOomph Delete Mystery Writer @CleoCoyle with a Red Hat Cake recipe (Cherry Streusel Coffee Cake) for Mem. Day: @kristadavis @AveryAames via SocialOomph Delete Critique Etiquette-- via SocialOomph Delete Kafka manuscripts allegedly stolen from Tel Aviv apartment -- via SocialOomph Delete How to Write Imagery-- via SocialOomph Delete Three Training Tips to Become a Better Blogger-- via SocialOomph Delete TweetDeck Gives Google Buzz And Foursquare Love With Newest Update: via SocialOomph Delete And yet another way in which writers are different… via SocialOomph Delete Simple structures for short messages (for long-winded writers penning short emails): via SocialOomph Delete How to Write Productively — 5 Tips for Finding Your Own System-- via SocialOomph Delete Writing from life--some tips: via SocialOomph Delete The Hero’s Journey Part 5 – Crossing The First Threshold-- @JustusRStone via SocialOomph Delete Agents--too much power? via SocialOomph Delete Semi-colon usage: via SocialOomph Delete Feedback Makes You Better-- via SocialOomph Delete Routinely gather information to help you learn the craft: via SocialOomph Delete Why people are scarier than monsters (writing antagonists) p2p_editor via web Delete CleoCoyle in the @MysteryKitchen today - Shrimp and Rice Casserole cooked up by author Riley Adams #food #recipe @ElizabethSCraig via web Retweeted by you Reply Retweeted (Undo) Making your time count (staying on track): via SocialOomph Delete How to write a literary remix: @GalleyCat via SocialOomph Delete Pacing emotion: via SocialOomph Delete When Writer’s Block Gets Cozy with You: via SocialOomph Delete Defining sell-through: via SocialOomph Delete Creating antagonists (and keeping them from being formulaic) : via SocialOomph Delete Adding Tension to the Mundane in our Writing: @authorterryo via SocialOomph Delete A video showing how scene and chapter length control pacing: via SocialOomph Delete Situational vs. character ideas: via SocialOomph Delete Writing synopses---good things and bad things: via SocialOomph Delete Writers...are you too hard on yourselves? via SocialOomph Delete The Skinny on Agents at Pennwriters Conference-- @EmilyCaseysMuse via SocialOomph Delete The need for income vs. the need to write: via SocialOomph Delete Pitching In Person--- via SocialOomph Delete Making Your Characters Appealing-- via SocialOomph Delete How To Love Your Setting: via SocialOomph Delete Trust Your Genius, Even If It Doesn’t Belong to You-- via SocialOomph Delete Ebooks, E-readers and the Kidlit Market: A Short Version-- via SocialOomph Delete What basic need can I withhold from the character? via SocialOomph Delete The Ultimate Pre-Writing Exercise You May Not Have Tried Yet-- via SocialOomph Delete 3 ways to protect your Facebook privacy: via SocialOomph Delete A writer's roller coaster ride: via SocialOomph Delete Writing targets to keep ourselves motivated and our writing sharp: via SocialOomph Delete Strengths and weaknesses of different photo hosting sites for bloggers: via SocialOomph Delete Tips for writing back cover copy: via SocialOomph Delete When you have *more* time to write, are you less productive? via SocialOomph Delete It's too soon to write off the paperback (Independent) : via SocialOomph Delete Consider writing other genres and forms to expand your reader base: via SocialOomph Delete Learning to be a good writer doesn't have to be expensive---the benefits of teaching yourself: via SocialOomph Delete What to do when you're writing and can't think of a word: via SocialOomph Delete Top 5 Children’s Books for Grown-Ups-- via SocialOomph Delete The Hero’s Journey Part 4 – The Mentor Appears: @JustusRStone via SocialOomph Delete Creating characters that make readers cry: @JodyHedlund via SocialOomph Delete Barnes & Noble to Launch Publishing Service for Indie Pubs and Self Publishing-- @GalleyCat via SocialOomph Delete Night Shade's New Literary Imprint Hopes to Pack a Punch-- @GalleyCat via SocialOomph Delete laughing while you cry: how to write realistic emotion-- via SocialOomph Delete Life as a travel writer--with children: via SocialOomph Delete On this year's upcoming BEA: via SocialOomph Delete Bringing your character to life-- character worksheet (part 3) via SocialOomph Delete Literary Agents Talk Trends in Children's Publishing at NESCBWI-- @ChuckSambuchino via SocialOomph Delete Internal wranglings lead to a twist ending for a venerable British lit agency (Guardian): via SocialOomph Delete All Literature Is Gossip (Huff Post)-- via SocialOomph Delete What Yahoo’s deal for Associated Content means for writers-- via SocialOomph Delete The magic notebook: via SocialOomph Delete An Effective Method for Turning Off Your Inner Editor-- via SocialOomph Delete Ten More Tips on Writing a Novel: via SocialOomph Delete eBook Royalty: Another Way To Protect-- via SocialOomph Delete How To Tweet/Blog Like A YA Author-- via SocialOomph Delete What to do with your novel when you don’t know what to do-- @dirtywhitecandy via SocialOomph Delete 4 Ways Social Media Can Screw Up Your Writing-- @VictoriaMixon via SocialOomph Delete Capturing Ideas: How Do You Do It? via SocialOomph Delete Finding problems in our WIP to revise later: via SocialOomph Delete Free online communities for writers: @Casey_McCormick via SocialOomph Delete What agent Janet Reid is *really*thinking: via SocialOomph Delete Three steps to a breakout story: @p2p_editor via SocialOomph Delete The Konrath Effect: Will New Technology Ruin Talented Authors? (Huff Post) via SocialOomph Delete Query letter tips: via SocialOomph Delete Violence and gore in mysteries--how much is too much? @mkinberg via SocialOomph Delete 5 Self-Editing Tips-- via SocialOomph Delete How an iPad App can add sizzle to your book: via SocialOomph Delete The bookshelf, rethought (photo essay): via SocialOomph Delete 7 Easy to Miss and Fix Writing Mistakes-- @merylkevans via SocialOomph Delete An agent answers the question: "Why buy the cow?" via SocialOomph Delete Why “Punishing the Publisher” Usually Doesn’t-- via SocialOomph Delete 10 tips to improve your writing: via SocialOomph Delete A post on the "morning pages" prewriting prep: via SocialOomph Delete What worries one author the most about the writing process? Materialistic questions: via SocialOomph Delete 10 sure cures for blogging burnout: via SocialOomph Delete How to write a blog post that pulls in thousands: @copyblogger via SocialOomph Delete Why We Keep Looking for the Bard (Huff Post): via SocialOomph Delete Writing for the online audience (part 2): via SocialOomph Delete Use resources to help you be a better writer: @RoniGriffin via SocialOomph Delete You're a writer. And no one really cares. @matthewhill via SocialOomph Delete How To Get Ahead When You Are Behind On Your Word Count @simplywriting via SocialOomph Delete Easy slide show explains how to put your Facebook account on lockdown (Business Insider): via SocialOomph Delete What if my agent doesn't like my next book? via SocialOomph Delete Public speaking for introverts--jonesing for the zone: via SocialOomph Delete Can't get any writing done? Make a radical change: via web Delete Are authors overlooking ways to make more money while marketing? via SocialOomph Delete On being specific and precise in our writing: via web Delete How short is too short for a manuscript? via SocialOomph Delete Mystery writer @JulieHyzy with a great scone recipe to go along w/ our coffee: @AveryAames @kristadavis via web Delete How to critique--it's all in the way you say it: via SocialOomph Delete Your reality check on living off your writing income: via SocialOomph Delete Kill redundancy: via SocialOomph Delete 5 Ways for Freelance Writers to Avoid an Online Scammer-- via SocialOomph Delete For the insomniac writers out there: Sleep Hack: A Simple Strategy For Better Rest In Less Time-- via SocialOomph Delete 20 Free WordPress Themes from 2010-- via SocialOomph Delete 5 Tips For Building Expertise Through Blogging-- via SocialOomph Delete More Evidence that Screens = Distraction (Even When it's an E-Reader): via SocialOomph Delete How to Format a Winning Freelance Project Proposal-- via SocialOomph Delete How to be a great guest poster on your favorite blogs: @MenwithPens via SocialOomph Delete Writing a book is about a long series of choices: via SocialOomph Delete Why books will never die out: @BubbleCow via SocialOomph Delete Top wanted and unwanted books: via SocialOomph Delete Don't begin at the beginning: @writing_tips via SocialOomph Delete More on Konrath's benchmark book contract: @MikeShatzkin via SocialOomph Delete 6 writing weaknesses--and how to fix them-- @Writeitsideways via SocialOomph Delete Jobs/Markets/and Opportunities for Writers: via SocialOomph Delete Character Archetypes Part I – The Hero-- via SocialOomph Delete Is it procrastination or plain resistance? And tips to regain productivity: via SocialOomph Delete 101 Best Websites for Writers (Writers' Digest)-- now available online: via SocialOomph Delete The Unbearable Lightness of Editing-- via SocialOomph Delete An agent on the value of the verbal pitch: via SocialOomph Delete dlschubert Mondays aren't so bad when they're SUBLIMINAL! Top 10 List for Acquiring an Agent: via TweetDeck Retweeted by you Reply Retweeted (Undo) Top 10 Mistakes Authors Make When Promoting a Book on Facebook-- via SocialOomph Delete Konrath signs with AmazonEncore: @jakonrath via web Delete JA Konrath on his AmazonEncore deal: @GalleyCat via web Delete Ayn Rand vs. Mike Wallace: The 1959 Interview-- via SocialOomph Delete Disruptive Innovation: What Health Care Teaches Us About the Future of Publishing-- @pubperspectives via SocialOomph Delete Organize your writing to enhance your productivity: @merrileefaber via SocialOomph Delete Putting the punk into the steam-- @BabelClash via SocialOomph Delete Best tweets for writers (wk ending 5-10--Writer's Digest): via SocialOomph Delete Book Proposals - Writing an Outline For a Non-Fiction Book From the Book Itself-- via SocialOomph Delete The dirt on online magazines: via SocialOomph Delete Writers on writing (collection of links) -- via SocialOomph Delete 5 things your protagonist shouldn't do: via SocialOomph Delete 9 Ways to Enhance Your Facebook Fan Page-- @smexaminer via SocialOomph Delete If Facebook were smart: via SocialOomph Delete 8 factors to consider when choosing between e-readers: via SocialOomph Delete 10 Tips For Marketing Your Books Online: @ChuckSambuchino via SocialOomph Delete Don't pin your writing career on a single manuscript: via SocialOomph Delete Don't forget to whom you're talking: via SocialOomph Delete Why subplot? via SocialOomph Delete Working With Distractions-- via SocialOomph Delete Dream agents--do you have one? @nataliebahm via SocialOomph Delete How writing horror is like punk rock: @ZiggyKinsella via SocialOomph Delete Book Writing - 25 Tips on Getting Started Writing a Book: via SocialOomph Delete Now *that's* a character: via SocialOomph Delete What will be the big digital issues in January 2011? via SocialOomph Delete Do you hurt when your characters suffer? via SocialOomph Delete In South Africa-- 'I received a phone threat and knew writers were not as free as I'd thought' (Guardian) : via SocialOomph Delete A literary career or a brilliant, successful one-off? Take your pick. (Guardian): via SocialOomph Delete The importance of a good beginning: via SocialOomph Delete Putting a story to rest for a while: @bbetty via SocialOomph Delete Keith Richards and character transformation: via SocialOomph Delete Genuine friendship between genders in our writing? via SocialOomph Delete Creating a functional writing station: via SocialOomph Delete Writing the Police Novel: Keep It Unexpected--- via SocialOomph Delete Your name in a careful what you wish for: @JanetRudolph via SocialOomph Delete Nothing wrong with 'teen fiction' (Guardian): via SocialOomph Delete The case for slow reading: via @AuthorScoop via SocialOomph Delete Some helpful writing technique links and lists: @EmilyCaseysMuse via SocialOomph Delete How to Lose Your Way and Find Your Story -- via SocialOomph Delete An author shares her Ebook royalty figures (and how much she spent on promo): via SocialOomph Delete Reading Your Work in Public-- via SocialOomph Delete Crime Writers of Canada with the short list for its 2010 Arthur Ellis awards-- via SocialOomph Delete Reading Memory - The 7th Sense?-- via SocialOomph Delete One writer's steps through revision: @gracefuldoe via SocialOomph Delete Writers reading: via SocialOomph Delete A writer's 10 welcome signs: via @4KidLit via SocialOomph Delete Age is just a number, says an agent: via SocialOomph Delete Tips for writing scenes: via SocialOomph Delete The usefulness of old wives' tales: (Guardian): via SocialOomph Delete Plotting the Plot – not as tough as it seems?-- via SocialOomph Delete SF isn’t just dying, it's crumbled to dust. Where's the new blood? @nextread via @johnottinger via SocialOomph Delete You May Be Published, But That Doesn't Mean You're Perfect-- via SocialOomph Delete Guest Post: How Guest Posting Makes You a Better Writer and Builds Your Brand-- via SocialOomph Delete The Three Surprisingly Simple Keys to Success-- via SocialOomph Delete End reader rubber-necking: via SocialOomph Delete Pay no attention to shiny objects-- 10 ways to stay on task with our writing: via SocialOomph Delete How to Host a Writer’s Blogfest-- @iapetus999 via SocialOomph Delete 5 tips for authors who blog: via SocialOomph Delete 22 Websites Every Writer Must Use: @thecreativepenn via SocialOomph Delete A writer’s guide to feedback and writing groups-- via SocialOomph Delete Battling the Romance Novel Stigma-- @RoniGriffin via SocialOomph Delete Top 10 Greatest Minor Characters in Geek Fiction-- via @merylkevans via SocialOomph Delete The future of genre fiction (part 3): via SocialOomph Delete The 20 Most Annoying People in a Bookstore: via @bradvertrees via SocialOomph Delete A question of genre: via SocialOomph Delete On The Importance of Dreaming-- via SocialOomph Delete Themes emerge in life and writing: @julie_bush via SocialOomph Delete The Unlikeable (Potentially Evil) Protagonist-- via SocialOomph Delete Random House will launch new ebook series with abbreviated versions of its "big idea" non-fiction titles: via SocialOomph Delete 6 Reasons I Stop Reading (and How to Avoid Them) : @annastanisz via @4KidLit via SocialOomph Delete Query fail--debunking the myths: via @4KidLit via SocialOomph Delete My hero, Emily Dickinson (NY Times): via SocialOomph Delete 5 Reasons Your MS Keeps Getting Rejected: @VictoriaMixon via SocialOomph Delete Sure to be controversial-- The 10 Most Harmful Novels for Aspiring Writers: via @bradvertrees via SocialOomph Delete Character therapy: via SocialOomph Delete Writing in a coffeehouse? Coffee shop etiquette: @bluemaven via web Delete Literary agent to stand trial for defrauding authors: via SocialOomph Delete Not Finished Your Manuscript? Write Your Query Letter Now-- @JustusRStone via SocialOomph Delete 7 ways to show character growth: @p2p_editor via web Delete Notes on eight years of book blogging-- via SocialOomph Delete The fine art of persistence in book publicity: via SocialOomph Delete 7 things one author has learned so far: via SocialOomph Delete Questions to Ask Your Publicist: via SocialOomph Delete Top 10 absurd classics (Guardian): via SocialOomph Delete The Write Mind: Real Life and Writing. Easy, Right? via SocialOomph Delete We are all poets now: via SocialOomph Delete Anti-procrastination for writers---getting started: via SocialOomph Delete Tips for getting over the post-convention blues: via SocialOomph Delete From the Writer Abroad blog: the decision to move abroad in 10 easy steps: via SocialOomph Delete 3 Reasons to Borrow Mythic Power in Our Writing: via SocialOomph Delete A Crash Course in Writer's Contracts (for freelance writers): via SocialOomph Delete 20 Easy Ways to Ruin Your Blog-- via SocialOomph Delete Best writing links of the past week, collected by Elizabeth Craig: via SocialOomph Delete Why Ray Bradbury's stories have seeped into the culture (Slate): via SocialOomph Delete How To: Remove Section Breaks-- via SocialOomph Delete Konrath answers the top Ebook questions from writers considering the leap: