Posts Tagged blogging

The Three NEVERs of Social Media

Image via Demi-Brooke Flikr Creative Commons

Original image via Demi-Brooke Flikr Creative Commons

I understand that many of you who follow this blog are new, so if you’ve made one of these mistakes, you’re learning. We all oops (especially in the beginning), so don’t sweat it. Yet, I see these three behaviors far more often than I’d like. These three professional blunders can hang on like the smell of dead fish and stink up our author career, so avoid them at all cost.

You’ve been warned ;).

Never Be Nasty in a Blog Comment

I am fully aware that my blog can’t make everyone happy. I work my tail off to entertain and enlighten but I know I can’t be all things to all people. If I’m not your cup of tea, just click the unsubscribe button at the bottom of the e-mail WordPress sends you or e-mail me and I will happily assist you leaving (and cry later *sniffles*).

There is no need for this:

Ohhhh-kay.

Ohhhh-kay.

The irony was 1) I didn’t even write this particular post. It was a guest post and an excellent one at that 2) It wasn’t negative at all. It just wasn’t coated in glitter and fluff. Professionals don’t have a lot of time and shouldn’t need to be handled with kid gloves and 3) Was it really necessary? I’ve written over 560 posts and one isn’t her cup of tea, so we just carpet bomb?

I once wrote a humor post about my many failed attempts to join the military. It was a humor post. It was posted for Memorial Day and to honor those willing to sacrifice for the very freedom this person liberally uses…

Yes, this counts as a troll...

Yes, this counts as a troll…

And my personal favorite?

Um...OUCH.

Um…OUCH.

See, the thing is, if you want to tell a blogger she has the brain of a retarded chimp, that she’s a loser-poseur fake, don’t do it in the blog comments (or at all, for that matter). The comment is there forever, complete with the commenter’s name and face.

Oh, and it’s spelled “expertise” by the way ;).

Most of the time, when I get nasty comments like these I just send them to the trash. They aren’t heathy for the comment community and everyone has a bad day, which is why I didn’t include the gravatars of these nice people. But, remember, not all bloggers will be nice.

I have the right to be wrong and y’all have the right to un-sunbcribe, never buy one of my books and tell all your friends that oatmeal is smarter than I am. I get that I can’t please everyone, but there is a way to disagree and remain polite, respectful and professional. There’s no need for ad hominem attacks.

If someone writes a blog you don’t like? Fine. But keep in mind that this person worked hard and for free to offer you something of value. All they ask in return is for some common human decency.

People have long memories regarding those who are needlessly cruel. And sure, a blogger might be a new, unpublished nobody. Doesn’t mean she’ll remain that way. We never know who we might need and burning bridges is a bad long-term plan.

If you do goof and hurt a blogger, just e-mail them and apologize or apologize in the comments. A lot of bloggers (I’d like to believe) are reasonable. Own the mistake and ask for gratis.

Never Be Nasty on Twitter

Twitter is a wonderful tool, namely because it can help us go viral. Yet, that’s precisely why we must handle it with care. It can go VIRAL. A random woman on Twitter tweeted a nasty remark about rapper Ice-T’s wife and millions of fans pounced. This woman had to delete her account and practically go into witness protection. I am certain she didn’t think it was a big deal at the time, but it shows that tweets should be handled with care.

Sure, we can delete tweets, but often by the time we realize we need to delete one…it’s already too late. Twitter goes quickly, so it can get out of hand quickly.

Never Write Bad Book Reviews

This doesn’t apply to book bloggers and book reviewers. That’s your job and we love that you give us guidance on what to read. But, as authors? I believe in what Candace Havens calls Writer Karma. If I can’t give a book a five-star rave review? I just don’t review it. Again, publishing is a small world and we all need each other. The world is already out to throw us under a bus. We need each other to keep from turning into cutters.

If a writer really bungled and you just cannot remain quiet? Send her an e-mail outlining the problems and maybe suggestions how to do better with the next book. This way correction is private and we aren’t publicly and permanently humiliating a peer. If you goofed on this and now feel badly, remove the review. In the future, focus on reviewing what you love.

We Are Human

I’d love to tell you I’ve never made a mistake, that I am the shining example to all, but I’ve had bad days too. I’ve screwed up and had to apologize. Just own it and say you’re sorry.

We all need grace, let’s just try not to make a habit of needing it too often. We’re wise to remember there’s a human on the other side of that screen. The digital world is wonderful, but it takes work (and sometimes holding our tongue fingertips) to keep it a positive experience.

Have you ever had someone shred you publicly on your blog? On social media? How did you handle it? Did you cry? I used to. Have toughened up. Do you delete the comment or leave it up so everyone will know they’re a jerk and steer clear? When you see comments on a blog that are rude and in bad taste, what do you do? Do you make note of the name? Defend the blogger?

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of June, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.

At the end of June I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!

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163 Comments

Opening the Floor–Ask an Expert! What Do YOU Want to Learn More About?

Need some adverbs taken out?

Trust me. I be an expert….

One of my favorite parts of blogging is I get to hang out with you guys. I love your comments and REALLY LOVE when you share your stories. I read every one of them, and the only reason I don’t reply to all comments is because some of you subscribe to be messaged when there is a new comment…

…and I don’t want to blow up your e-mail with “((HUGS)) You are so awesome! I forget my purse ALL the time!”

I never run out of ideas because the world is a very interesting place. Writing is a complex topic and social media for writers is ever-evolving (along with the publishing paradigm).

I do try to mix this blog up with different content, some informational and some just fun. Keeps me fresh and you from being bored. Besides I am far too crazy creative to wear an expert suit all the time. I have to wear digital panty hose and they chafe :D.

But I want to try something different, today. I generally choose the topics. Ever so often one of you might ask something in the comments and that gives me an idea for a blog. I can keep just blogging about the things I find important or interesting, but I’d like to ask you guys what you’d like me to blog about. Here are some ideas to get you thinking:

  • What do you want to know about fiction?
  • Plotting?
  • Character?
  • How do you hook in the beginning of your book?
  • When do we need a prologue?
  • POV?
  • More dialogue (maybe from me or another expert)?
  • Tips for self-editing?
  • How to find a good editor? What’s the difference between a line-editor and content-editor? What is reasonable to pay for these services?
  • How do we choose what genre to write?
  • How do you write YA?
  • How do you get started writing for children?
  • World-building? (for fantasy, sci-fi, etc.)
  • Differences and expectations in genres?
  • How do you create romantic tension? Write love scenes?
  • What are the fundamentals of good romance?
  • Scene and sequel structure?
  • Generating conflict and tension?
  • How to write a strong female character and make her likable, too?
  • What are elements of great heroes?
  • What are the must-have resources for writers?
  • Why is it a bad idea to put Band-Aids in your hair?
  • If you are brand new, where do you start? How do you begin that first novel?
  • How do you get ideas for stories?
  • How to do research?
  • Want to know about non-fiction?
  • How do you choose a topic?
  • Write a proposal?
  • Land an agent without using chloroform?
  • How do you choose an agent? What questions do you ask?
  • When is it time to fire an agent?
  • How do you pitch?
  • Create a log-line/elevator pitch?
  • How do you get blurbs for your book without using blackmail?
  • Which type of publishing might be a good fit for you?
  • Choose a conference?
  • Speak Pig Latin like a pro?
  • Do you want to explore psychological profiles for crime writing?
  • Forensics?
  • Want to write about the military or guns in your book and sound like you know what the heck you are talking about? Revolvers DO NOT have a safety, btw. Also, it is a MAGAZINE, not a CLIP. And if we call it a MAGAZINE CLIP, it makes us sound double-stupid.
  • Want to know more about author brand?
  • How to handle a pen name with social media?
  • How to use a pen name and ACTUALLY protect your real identity?
  • Internet safety. How do we stay safe in cyberspace?
  • How to use Twitter and NOT be a spamming @$$clown?
  • More about blogging? Where to start? What to talk about?
  • How to deal with haters and trolls without becoming one, too?
  • How to balance social media and writing? It can be done. No whining.
  • Want to know more about Smashwords? What does it do?
  • CreateSpace? How to use it?
  • Why it’s a bad idea to let your husband have a remote control helicopter AND access to Post-It Notes?
  • Want to learn tips for productivity?
  • Time-management?
  • Learning self-discipline? I was once a lazy sot, so if I can do it, ANYONE CAN.
  • Balance family, work and writing without going crazy…ok craziER. Y’all are writers, so you know we all start out crazy. Little disclaimer there.
  • Learning social intelligence?
  • Having a fabulous social media presence WITHOUT changing your personality (unless you’re a jerk). Shy introverts don’t need a personality transplant. You are awesome. Be YOU.
  • How to teach your child Jedi skills by age three?
  • How to deal with family/friends who doesn’t get why you want to be a writer and who are kinda jerks to you?
  • How to put down boundaries in a world with no borders?
  • How to be an expert on ghosts? What exactly IS a K-2 meter and why are all paranormal investigators named “Darryl” and wear a mullet?

These are just some of the topics I could think of. Most I can blog about, but I also am connected to other, more knowledgeable writers who are always happy to lend a hand (as y’all saw with Les Edgerton’s series). I am not ashamed to admit I don’t know stuff (like WTH IS a K-2 meter and why do all these regular people all seem to have them in their kitchen drawers like a flashlight?).

Honestly, if I don’t know about a topic,  I will just abduct recruit another expert who does know…and then promise to free them in exchange for a guest post. I have a creepy panel van AND a very impressive and intimidating NERF battle-ax. So here’s your chance to tell me what you want to talk about. What do you need help with? The floor is yours…

I LOVE hearing from you guys! Now you get to ask me questions AND it counts for the contest. How COOL IS THAT?

To prove it and show my love, for the month of April, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.

At the end of April I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!

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115 Comments

Humor is Everywhere–The Art of Being Funny

Screen Shot 2012-04-25 at 3.57.28 PM

Looks legit.

One of my absolute favorite people in the world is humor author and mommy-blogger Leanne Shirtliffe. I know if I’m having a rough day, that I just need to stop by Leanne’s blog or Facebook page, because she’ll have me smiling in minutes. One of the advantages of starting my company, WANA International, is I was able to abduct recruit my favorite people to teach.

Today, Leanne’s, going to give us some tips about how to make the world our muse—> then make it LOL.

Take it away, Leanne!

******

Humor is everywhere, from Tom Cruise’s teeth to your local pet store. You just have to look for it.

How do you find humor?

Watch what children do:

mixed up animal

Genetic modification for the tween set.

I grabbed a notebook out of my bedside table to record this bizarre conversation. On the next available page was this note from my daughter.

I grabbed a notebook out of my bedside table. On the next available page was this note from my daughter.

Look at sign combinations:

Make your own punch line.

Gives new meaning to “strip mall.”

Gives new meaning to the saying "to hell and back"

Gives new meaning to the saying “to hell and back”

Evidently my garage is a "community"

Evidently my garage is a “community”

Does watching mommy and daddy skull beers count as "live entertainment"?

Does watching mommy and daddy skull beers count as “live entertainment”?

Visit your local book store, especially the bargain books section. Look for weird combos of books.

Vampire-True Age Book

So you’ve found humor. Now what?

  • What about having a character in your manuscript come across one of these signs or combinations of books? Even non-humorous characters can see or find humor.
  • Creating characters with unique characteristics is one way to be original; observing quirky details is yet another way to develop a distinctive voice.

Interested in finding out many more humor techniques?

Attend my WANA webinar on Wednesday, April 24 from 8:30-10:00 PM EST, “How To Be Funny (Er): 10 Techniques for Writers of Fiction and Nonfiction.

All participants will be entered to win a copy of my soon-to-be-released humor book, Don’t Lick the Minivan: And Other Things I Never Thought I’d Say to my Kids.

Click here for more details on the webinar and/or to register.

Where’s your favorite place to “find” humor? What makes you laugh?
How do you use humor in your writing?

~~

About Leanne Shirtliffe

Gravatar whitenedLeanne Shirtliffe is a humor writer whose book, Don’t Lick the Minivan: And Other Things I Never Thought I’d Say to my Kids, has received positive endorsements Jenny Lawson (The Bloggess), Jill Smokler (Scary Mommy), Kirkus Review, and others. She writes for the Huffington Post, NickMom.com, and IronicMom.com. When she’s not stopping her eight-year-old twins from licking frozen flagpoles, Leanne teaches English to teenagers who are slightly less hormonal than she is.

Thanks Leanne! Please show her some love for making your Fridays more fun :D.

I LOVE hearing from you guys!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of April, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.

At the end of April I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!

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57 Comments

Plagiarism and Terrell Mims–A Chronic Case of EPIC Stupid

Image courtesy of ArtbyRetta WANA Commons

Image courtesy of ArtbyRetta WANA Commons

I tend to be a Naive Nell. I feel one of my best qualities is I see the best in everyone. What’s my greatest weakness? I see the best in everyone. I also like to give new people opportunities. I know that without people like Candy Havens, Bob Mayer, Les Edgerton, James Scott Bell, Agent Laurie McLean and others, I wouldn’t be where I am, which is an AWESOME place, namely because you guys are here.

This said, I like to pay it forward. Ah, but paying it forward can bite back, and I’ve been bitten way more times than I care to admit.

So back to stupid. NO, EPIC stupid.

I don’t even think I should have to blog about this, because COME ON! Plagiarism? In this day and age? REALLY????

Just…really.

But, we live in a world that must caution us not to blow-dry our hair in the shower or use power saws while sleeping, so here goes.

Plagiarism. Yes, it happens.

And I don’t like telling this story, namely because it makes me look like the Wold’s Biggest Jack@$$, but hey. I’m willing to be embarrassed if you guys can get something useful out of it.

A Little History

A few years ago, I decided to try a different kind of writing workshop. I’d been in a traditional “let’s read 5 pages and critique” group, and, while that was a lot of fun and I learned a lot, I felt the format couldn’t handle larger works, particularly novels. Thus, a handful of the members and I decided to meet for a content critique group that focused more on making sure authors began with a solid plot structure. Line-edit was for later.

We all grew exponentially as artists.

Excited about what this format did in person, I was eager to try an on-line version to help authors who couldn’t make a meeting in Fort Worth, TX. I didn’t know if it would work (it didn’t, btw), but it was at least worth a try. Shortly after starting the workshop, however, my grandmother became suddenly ill. She was in and out of the hospital and I had a one-year-old and deadlines, blah, blah, blah. So I asked one of the original members of the in-person critique group, Terrell Mims, to help me with the critique as a co-instructor.

Why?

Because he was blogging on craft and his blogs were OUTSTANDING. He was proof this new format worked. He’d gone from not knowing his @$$ from a hole in the ground to writing lessons that rivaled my own (and I spent MONTHS reading every craft book I could find).

Even when I talked to him on the phone, he was quite insightful about craft, frequently quoting books like The Writer’s Journey, Hooked, Save the Cat , Plot and Structure and Bullies, Bastards and Bitches (all FABULOUS books and recommended reading for the workshop).

His blogs were superlative, and he was quick to give credit to me and to WANA for his growth as a writer.

Awwwww.

*growls*

Anyway, Terrell was ideal to help with the on-line version of the workshop. He was single and had just moved back to his home state and was looking for employment there while waiting on his state teaching certification, meaning he had the time. He’d earned a degree in English (supposedly) and had even been teaching high school English (allegedly), so it was no stretch to believe that he’d produced the content in his drop-dead-awesome-blogs.

In the workshop?

Over time, I started noticing that we were giving almost identical feedback to the participants. I believed it was because we were seeing the same things. Yeah, that “believing the best in people” thing. I wasn’t noticing that his comments were always after mine.

My grandmother continued to be in and out of the hospital and by that August, my favorite aunt was ill as well and SHE was in and out of the hospital (often they were in adjacent rooms). A month later, my aunt passed away and the family was reeling. Since Terrell seemed to be seeing the same things I was, I said, “Well why don’t you take over for the initial assignments and I will only look at the final stuff? This way we lose the redundancy and I can take care of my family.”

I needed the help. I was choking. On top of all the health crises, we received orders my husband was deploying to Afghanistan. I was so desperate to keep the workshop going and keep to my word to the writers who’d trusted me that—*lets out long, dejected breath*—that I even paid $50 to send him a small BRAND NEW laptop I wasn’t using because his had crashed.

I know. I’ve already kicked myself a thousand times.

This is when things got weird.

Once Terrell was on his own, his critiques suddenly ranged from all-out-flaming-bizarre to moronic. Complaints started piling in, and yet I defended my choice. I said, “Well, look at his blogs. I have no idea where this critique came from. I’ll talk to him.” When I talked to him in person, he seemed to understand the craft. Yet, it felt like I was dealing with two or even three different people.

Long and short of it was Terrell got caught, and he dragged my good name and WANA through the mud with him. Not only had he wholesale copied posts—PICTURES AND ALL—from Cracked.com, he was kind enough to mention ME as his mentor and to thank WANA for the support.

*loads rifle*

So one day I am bee-bopping along when suddenly @HolyTaco calls me out on Twitter as a plagiarist, or that, rather, I train plagiarists, and I’m all like WTH? When I confronted Terrell, he lied and told me the guy was just a troll looking for a fight. Terrell then takes down the posts he stole, but here is the thing…

THE INTERNET IS FOREVER!!!!!

One of the reasons I strongly recommend against blogging about sex, politics and religion (unless it’s part of your platform) is that, if it explodes in our face? WE CAN’T UN-DETONATE. It is troll fodder FOREVER. Trolls have mad computer skills and a lot of free time.

This is also a reason NOT TO STEAL PEOPLE’S STUFF.

Terrell doesn’t seem to understand the depth of his sin. Writers are like elephants and we remember everything FOREVER.

Not only did he make me look like the biggest dope on the planet—“Oh, here little chickens writers, here is a wolf Terrell to guard you and your eggs stories”—but he had absolutely NO problem dragging my good name (that I actually worked my tail off to build) through the digital mud. He also had no problem dragging the WANAs through the mud.

So we all pounce on him and run him out of Cyberland, yet he still keeps resurfacing under new names. And this isn’t my problem. My problem is he KEEPS STEALING. His post yesterday—that he’s taken down because he’s been BUSTED by the WANA Justice League headed by Digital Wonder Woman @JamiGold and the WANAvengers ruled by Digital Dark Knight @JayTechDad—was STOLEN from freaking FORBES. FORBES?????!!!!

(I am Thora-Xena for those who wonder :D…a lot)

Is this just a special kind of stupid? WARNING: Please do NOT let Terrell near your shower with a hair dryer.

I am all for forgiveness, but we have to actually be repentant and CHANGE, and the only thing Terrell Mims is sorry for is BEING CAUGHT. When he originally humiliated me and dragged my good name through the mud, I didn’t make it public because 1) I was mortified and 2) if he DID mend his ways he’d have a harder time recovering.

Yeah. I’m all out of grace, and the innocent need protection.

What I don’t get is that you guys have no idea the kind of free time Terrell has. Why steal? He knew the material he originally plagiarized, so just freaking write it DOWN.

I am a mother, a wife, I run a global business with 30+ instructors, blog 5 days a week, teach, travel, do most of the yard and housework, all the shopping and all the cooking, AND I WRITE MY OWN STUFF! I may not wear makeup or clean clothes, but my writing is MINE…unless you didn’t like it and that was from the aliens who sometimes hack into my brain :D.

Hell Hath No Fury Like a WANA Scorned

WANA is a fabulous community that will help your platform grow exponentially, but love has a price and that price is integrity. Betray that trust and GAME OVER.

DO NOT STEAL.

Digital-Wonder Woman and the Digital Dark Knight Will Smite the Wicked. HOLY TACO!

We have CRAZY talent in WANA. No seriously, they’re crazy. Why else would they hang out with US? Some of the WANAs have MAD SKILLZ so don’t mess with them. Jami will tie you in a Lasso of Whoop@$$ that looks a lot like her blog. Here is her Storify of the #MyWANA “Outing of the Shunned” for those who doubt.  The WANA Justice League and WANAvengers are also sometimes assisted by the chaotic neutral Holy Taco who first ousted Mims.

And I am sorry this post breaks my promise to be brief, but there are wolves out there and I want you guys to be prepared.

Some Helpful Tips

Don’t Plagiarize. You WILL Get Caught.

Seems like a no-brainer, but apparently there are some brainless folks out there. There are sites like Copyscape that can check to see if your stuff’s being stolen. There is also the Internet archive of, oh…EVERYTHING at Wayback. And might I remind everyone of the WANA Justice League and WANAvengers?

There is NO reason to plagiarize.

In the new paradigm, we know our stuff needs to be shared. We WANT you to share it or we wouldn’t put all those share buttons all over the place. Sharing and stealing are different for anyone who is confused.

Get a cold? Kids get the flu? On a deadline and have no blog to post? Reblog one of MY POSTS. I freely offer my content so long as I get credit.

I am not alone. Most people are cool with sharing, we just want the credit for the work we did. That’s FAIR. Mims could have avoided ALL of this with a simple reblog. Post the first paragraph then hyperlink to the original post and give credit to the person who actually did the work.

Mims has content and original blogger has new readers.

Everyone is happy.

Rat Poison is NOT Candy–DO NOT EAT

Don’t use a curling iron in the shower, a radio in the bathtub, a chainsaw while cooking, and, for the love of all that is chocolate, DO NOT DRIVE WHILE SLEEPING!

Aren’t you glad I give all this free advice? :D

So there it is. Not only did I trust an epic-moron-sociopathic-thief in my workshop, but I provided him a new computer to help him steal more efficiently. Yes, I want a DeLorean so I can go back in time and kick my OWN @$$.

I still give opportunity to newbies, and I’ve continued to get burned, but the handful who make it? The ones that shine? They make it worth any amount of pain.

So let Terrell Mims or CDLaune or Captain Assclown or whatever he calls himself be a cautionary tale to NOT BE STUPID. Writers are generous. We will help you. No need to steal. Really.

Really.

So what are your thoughts? Fears? Suggestions for tarring and feathering on-line?

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of January, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.

At the end of January I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!

I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books.

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127 Comments

The Most Powerful Social Media Tool for Building an Author Platform-Part 3

"Time's Touch" Image courtesy of  Cellar Door Films. WANA Commons

“Time’s Touch” Image courtesy of Cellar Door Films. WANA Commons

Taking time to connect with people. Connecting to them with words. Making others feel. In the end, that’s all social media and blogging are about. Part One and Part Two of this post began the discussion about why blogs are probably THE BEST use of an author’s time when it comes to building an author platform using social media. My final reason why all writers should seriously consider blogging is:

Good Blogs Connect to Readers the Same Way as Our Novels

Tweets are terrific and Facebook is fantastic, but blogs have a unique power to connect to our readers the same way as our novels. Blogs give people a chance to meet and fall in love with our writing voice. Voice is what makes each writer distinctive. No reader would mistake Hemingway for Faulkner or Tess Gerritson for Sandra Brown.

Voice is like an emotional fingerprint that is unique to each writer, and voice cannot help but influence our writing, all of our writing. Novels and blogs are our progeny, and they share elements of our creative essence. The key is to learn how to blog in ways which maximize our writing voice (which I happen to teach in my blogging class ;)).

Like writing great novels, writing great blogs is also about technique and skill. But, once a writer understands how to harness the power of the blog, there is no limit to what she can accomplish.

Blogs are long lasting and afford us an opportunity to cultivate our future fans before the book is even finished. Blogs help shape us into fitter, leaner professionals with the power to work exponentially instead of linearly. When Twitter tweets its last tweet and Facebook implodes into a black hole, your blog, your platform and your fans will remain.

Also, and this is a big point, blogs can be harvested for content and made into e-books either for sale or for promotion. Don’t give away your fiction for .99. Give away your blog-to-book for .99 with purchase of your novel. If people love your blog, then having favorite posts in one e-book is valuable. No need to hand away your art. Let your blog help you promote. Your blog is an investment that will just keep giving returns, and in my mind, it’s the best use of our time and our skills.

Last time I will mention this (until the next time, ha ha ha ha ha)…

If you want to learn how to create a good author blog that appeals to readers not just other writers, please sign up for my next class. Registration is now open and there are all types of packages for every price range. The class can be done at your own pace and in your own time and you will have a team of support.

What are your thoughts? Who are some of your favorite bloggers? What do you think makes a blog bad, boring, unappealing? Some of the WANAs out there, share your success stories. Brag! You worked for it!

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of January, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.

At the end of January I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!

I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books.

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37 Comments

Want to Be a Successful Author? Burn Your Ships

Kristen Lamb, WANA, Author Kristen Lamb

Original image via Karen Lynn Klink WANA Commons

Want to be a professional author? A successful professional author? To become more than what others are, we must be willing to do what others won’t. We must go where they fear to tread.

We must burn our ships.

When Alexander the Great arrived on the shores of Persia, his forces were hopelessly outnumbered, and yet he gave the shocking order to burn all the boats. Legend tells us that he turned to his men and declared, “We go home in Persian ships or we die.”

Your day job is a means, not an end. It is no longer a safe retreat in the event of failure. Cast off your fear. Let go of the voices in your head, the siren’s song to play it “safe.”

Safe=DEATH

Lash yourself to your desire to be a novelist. You are not an “aspiring author.” You are a pre-published author and the rest is just details. Having too many “escape routes” and “backup plans” diffuses energy and focus. It affords too many opportunities to make excuses.

Years ago, when I decided to become an author, I burned the ship of “working in sales.” Sales paid well. Really well. It also came with a company car, an expense account and the admiration of others because I had a “great job.” When I vowed to be come a professional author, I burned that ship.

Sure, it meant living with my mother, shopping for my clothes at Goodwill, and losing most of my “friends.” It also meant avoiding most of my family because they 1) thought I’d lost my mind and 2) they kept finding me “real jobs.”

To gain everything we must lose everything. We can try and keep a foot in both worlds, but it has a price.

Many of you have families depending on you, so I’m not suggesting you go pull a Kevin Spacey on your boss. What I am suggesting is total focused commitment. Make writing your priority.

I burned the “sales ship” but I allowed myself to take the “writing ship” even when that meant hopping on the “dinghy of writing instructions for software” (which kinda just made me want to put my head in a wood-chipper). But, at least I was writing. Eventually, I had to burn the tech writing ship. It paid too well and kept me from my dream of being an author.

Expect to burn numerous ships along the way, but do it. Commit.

Burning our ships isn’t easy. My recommendation? Blogging is a great intermediary ship. It accomplishes a lot at one time:

1) Blogging is writing.

2) Blogging develops discipline & trains us to keep a professional pace and meet self-imposed deadlines.

3) Blogging builds a permanent platform far more resistant than any other form of social media.

4) Blogs can eventually be harvested for content and made into books.

5) Blogging (the WANA way) cultivates your 1000 true fans.

My methods harness the same imagination you use in your fiction, and teaches you how to blog in ways that connect to readers, not just other writers.

We don’t need more writers writing about writing, and we certainly don’t need another writing blog. Readers don’t read them.

The WANA approach is efficient and an ideal choice for those who still have to “clock in” for the meantime and registration is now open for my Blogging for Author Brand class. A WANA class is more than lessons. You will be surrounded by fellow soldiers writers, a permanent team to help you keep charging when you desperately want to go back. Why?

Because we burned our ships, too.

You must trust  in others or success is impossible.

~The Clone Wars

We are not alone.

What are your thoughts? What do you fear? What is keeping you from “burning your ships”? Have you burned your ships successfully? What advice would you offer? Tell us how you did it. For the WANAs out there, maybe share your story. Did being a WANA make burning your ships easier?

I love hearing from you!

How to Quit a Job with Kevin Spacey (caution: adult language and content)

To prove it and show my love, for the month of January, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

NOTE: December’s winner is Steph Scottil. Please send your 5000 word Word document or your synopsis (no more than 1000 words and in a WORD doc) OR your query letter to my assistant Chad at c carver at wana intl dot com.

And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.

At the end of January I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!

I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books.

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99 Comments

Here There Be Blog Trolls–How to Spot Them & What To Do

 

I know you guys think we are in the 21st century and that we are far too sophisticated to believe in mythical creatures, but I am here to share a real threat. Lurking beneath the digital highway?

There be trolls.

Trolls? Yep. Trolls. Not the cute fuzzy ones with twirly hair that go on the end of a pencil, either. I am talking mean, nasty, ugly, “take a bite out of your billy-goat @$$” TROLLS.  BLOG TROLLS. Most writers have a fear of trolls. It is embedded deep within the collective subconscious to fear these nasty creatures of spite and hate. But, I hope, with some proper preparation, you can resume zipping down the digital highway unafraid…though I do advise you to stop at a later point to hose the trolls out of your grill.

Leave them there and they stink up the place.

Before we talk about how to handle trolls, I think we first need to discuss exactly what a Blog Troll is.

What is a Blog Troll?

Many writers believe that we should all live in a pink fluffy land of cuddles where everyone thinks our words are golden nuggets of sunshine. Our comments section is not a place of debate *GASP!*Au gauche! The comments section is a perk for our peeps…to make is easier for them to declare, far and wide, our unrivaled awesomeness.

Duh. Everyone knows that.

You might be thinking. Kristen! Why are you blogging about this? It’s easy to spot trolls. They are the only ones who disagree with me, the only ones who doesn’t affirm how I’m the best thing since kitten calendars.

Yeah. I do agree that all of you are the best thing since kitten calendars, but we need to put on our Big Blogger pants and be professionals. Just because someone disagrees or has a different point of view does not automatically make the commenter a troll. It is HOW the person comments. Disagreement is fine, but it should be respectful.

Just Because Someone Disagrees, Does Not Automatically Make this Person a Blog Troll

I know that, as an expert, it can be tough to teach without speaking in general terms. There are ALWAYS exceptions to just about everything. Thus, when I blog about how heavy use of flashbacks can make readers have epileptic seizures, I KNOW I am going to get the standard, “But la la la used flashbacks and she is now a bazillionaire who regularly bathes in diamonds and stacks of crisp Benjamins.”

Yep, got it.

And, truth be told, I don’t mind those comments because I do feel that part of honing our craft is to not just learn the standard, but then to go and study the exceptions as well. Why DID that writer get away with nine thousand adverbs when the rest of us would have been egged and stripped of our Word privileges until we’d read Strunk & White? Looking to anomalies is useful. So when readers politely point out exceptions? No problemo.

We Should Be Secure Enough to Defend Our Position as Needed

If we are blogging on factual things, we do not need to be omnipotent, but we should be competent. This really applies to a lot of the NF authors out there. For instance, I am not the Oracle of All Things Writing, but if I am going to blog about the craft??? Yeah, I should know it well to defend my position should I need to. I generally don’t defend unless I think a commenter has made a point that might confuse readers.

For instance, I had a blog about hooking readers and how passive goals like “staying alive” or “running away” were a tough sell. It is better to have an active goal and will make plotting far easier. A commenter chirped in that I was wrong, and that “The Great Escape” was a classic and an exception. “The Great Escape” actually wasn’t an exception, so I made sure to address that comment. (For those who are curious, the story goal of “The Great Escape” was not to escape or to run away, but rather to create a diversion to reroute the Germans away from the Allied forces–tangible and active).

Debate is Healthy

Now, I don’t consider that commenter a troll and am happy he took time to bring up that example. It made me think and I do believe it was a great example that helped those who were following the comment thread. There are some movies and books that seem like they might be “getting away with” passive plot goals, loads of flashbacks, or any some other literary faux pas, but if we look closer, we often see the screenwriter/writer is not as big of a rule-breaker as we might have first thought. OR, if the screenwriter/writer DID break some rules, often I can take a moment to explain HOW the writer broke the rule and WHY he got away with it.

I have had a lot of commenters bring up points that made me think, and the good debate actually made me stronger. There have even been times I have changed my position or opinion due to a commenter. If we aren’t learning we’re dying.

All blogs can benefit from debate. If a commenter disagrees, take a moment to really understand what he is saying. Sometimes you might be surprised. Blogs thrive and die every day due to the blogger’s relationship (or lack thereof) with readers.

So now that we have established that disagreement is good, even healthy…what IS a Blog Troll.

 

Your blog sucks and you should DIEEEEEEEE!!!!!

Blog Trolls are Disrespectful

We can disagree without being an equestrian derierre. Bloggers are human and make mistakes. We all have bad days. I recall a commenter back a few months ago just absolutely razed me for a handful of typos. Little did that person know that my aunt had slipped into a coma and died over the weekend. I was exhausted and distracted and honestly didn’t see the mistakes. Yet, there was nothing in my five typos that warranted the reaction, which brings me to my next point…

Blog Trolls are Often Emotional

We all get emotional, but Blog Trolls? They get PSYCHO emotional. I once wrote a really funny blog that posited the question, “Are we being responsible novel parents or dead-beat book daddies?” The blog was about WRITING. It was a HUMOR post, not a commentary on separation and child-custody issues. Aside from the use of “dead-beat book daddies” I talked about BOOKS and WRITING.

Anyway, out of nowhere I had a commenter morph into a LUNATIC. He ranted that I was a man-hater, then proceeded to insult every other person who’d commented and even hunted me to Facebook and insulted every person who talked to me on Facebook. Then, when I deleted his comments and booted him from my Facebook, he started his own blog—I KID you NOT—Kristen Lamb the Face of Misandry (which means man-hating, btw. I had to look it up, too).

I wish I were kidding.

What to Do About a Troll?

Don’t take it personally. The world is full of jerks. Look at the bright side. You could be them ;).

Accept that Not Everyone Will Love You

Awww. *sniff* I KNOW! This almost makes me cry. To think that not everyone thinks I am awesome? Well they must be sick, right?

Yeah, I hate to say it, but there is no law of the universe that dictates everyone must love us. No matter how hard we try, there will always be a percentage of people who just don’t like us. For me, it is a far, far, far, almost statistically meaningless percentage…like a mere .000000009%….okay, yeah. I know I can’t please everyone.

For you NF people establishing expertise, just expect the commenter who tells you that you have the brain of a monkey and that you are a loser poseur fake. My favorite comment like this? Kristen, you have to actually BE an expert at something before you can claim to be an expert. Yeah. OUCH. Oh well. It happens *shrugs*

But, how do you handle a Blog Troll?

Start with being kind. Few things diffuse someone who has blown an emotional fuse quicker than a dose of kindness. Just like that guy had no idea I’d had a death in the family, I have no idea what might have been falling apart in his life. This is one of the reasons we shouldn’t take things personally. It really isn’t about us. That nasty rant likely has more to do with the pile of bills, sucky job, or nasty divorce than it has to do with us or our content. All of us have shown our @$$ at one time or another. If we want grace from others, we should be quick to offer forgiveness and patience.

If you make a mistake, be quick to admit it. We are bloggers not God. Yes, being writers make us feel a lot like The Big Guy, but unlike Him, we screw up. If someone points out where we are wrong…and they are correct? It is a bit embarrassing, but not the end of the world. Just politely thank the commenter and take the mea culpa. Most people won’t remember if we screwed up. They will, however, remember if we screwed up and then spent three weeks arguing and trying to cover our mistake.

The Troll who ranted about my five typos? He did have a legitimate complaint, kind of. The blog was about editing and I had several glaring typos (granted the post was actually NOT about line-editing, but rather content editing). But, I corrected the oopses and thanked him for his diligence…and then watched with a huge grin as a handful of you pounced on him, slapped him around and made him mind his manners.

Y’all ARE the best thing since kitten calendars.

Don’t feel the need to approve haters. If someone is emotionally out of control and disrespectful, don’t feel the need to let them in. Commenters need to feel safe to voice an opinion and Trolls can make people afraid to comment. Relationships are about setting boundaries. I know Piper Bayard e-mails Trolls and tells them she has trashed their comment, but then tells them that if they will voice their disagreement in a more respectful way, she’d be happy to approve them.

Good fences make good neighbors.

Don’t Defend Unless You Need To

I have a saying. “People have the right to be wrong.” Sometimes a commenter is way off base or rude. Just move on. Many times your loyal commenters will pop the offending troll on the snoot and remind them that piddling in the comments section is rude.

Focus on the Positive

Trolls offer us perspective and humilty. Like leeches, turkey buzzards and lice all serve a viable part of the Earth’s ecosystem, Blog Trolls offer balance to the blog ecosystem (like scaring away the uncommitted). But, just because Tazmanian Devils serve a purpose in the Circle of Life doesn’t mean we should include them in the petting zoo. Same with Trolls. Focus on all the kind and supportive people. They deserve our attention more anyway ;).

So what are your thoughts? Do you agree with my definition of a “blog troll?” Have you had an experience you’d like to share? Any tips for handling these beasties of the web?

I LOVE hearing from you guys!

And to prove it and show my love, for the month of January, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of January I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!

I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . Both books are ON SALE for $4.99!!!! And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books!

Happy writing!


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112 Comments

Join this Class or the Pixies WIN

Holy Moly! Yes, folks. We are officially closing in on Christmas and the beginning of a New Year. If you guys are anything like me, about half your 2011 resolutions were forgotten two and a half weeks in when you were so hungry you contemplated holding up your local Cinnabon with a shotgun.

I might not be able to help you keep your resolution to lose weight, but I CAN help you reach the goal of creating a successful author blog with the power to SELL BOOKS.

Today I am going to explain why you need my Blogging to Build Your Author Brand Class. Tell your family you want this for Christmas. Two months of class for only $40!!!! In the comfort of your own home!!! You can even wear that dreadful Snuggie you will almost certainly get as a White Elephant gift.

My class will teach you about author branding and how to blog in ways that leave you time to go to the gym watch all the Firefly reruns. But, if I haven’t convinced you to sign up for your own good, then how about this?

Sign up or the Pixies win.

Pixies? Yes, Pixies.

Every day is a challenge for us to manage time, to learn to say no, and to focus. We do best learning ways to get the most output for the minimal time input. *cough* Which is why you need my class. That and January 15th is when the Procrastination Pixies hatch and come to feed….on your dreams.

Oh, I’ll start a blog on Monday after I clean up the tinsel the cat puked all over the guest room.

One of the most common Procrastination Pixies falls under the genus species name, Activia Pixius Busyworkus. This pixie masquerades itself as a really great use of time, but, in reality, is a total time-suck that can have you scrapbooking by lunch.

What does an Activia Pixius look like? The genus includes, but is not limited to, thank you notes three months after Christmas, watching old home movies, organizing baby pictures, and quality time with the Thigh Master you bought in 1994.

Basically any chore that made you groan and roll your eyes until it came time to sit and write is guaranteed to be an Activius Pixius. You make a vow to start blogging regularly, and suddenly that junk drawer that hasn’t bothered you for the past six months is calling out to you like a siren.

Give in to the Pixies and sure, guests can eat off your floors, but sadly, shiny floors do not impress agents. I know, I asked the one locked in my closet—ha ha ha ha! Kidding. My closets are way too cluttered to fit an agent!

Organized cabinets do not sell books. They might make more room for all the books left unsold, but that’s about it. Clean floors don’t sell books. Organized dressers do not sell books. Heck, traditional marketing won’t even sell books. What will sell books? AN AWESOME-SAUCE BLOG!

Just because we are literate and can string together nouns and verbs in a coherent fashion doesn’t mean we know anything about what makes a successful blog that connects to tens of thousands. Just because we recognize a box of Tide or a Xerox machine doesn’t mean we comprehend author branding.

Yes, I made all the mistakes so you don’t have to. Better than that, I have a track record of proven success to back up what I teach. Not only have I put both my books at the top of the best-selling list, but WANA methods have helped other authors rise from total obscurity to become best-sellers as well (and land some pretty fat six-figure publishing deals).

It is one thing for me to tell you guys that you need to a create a successful author blog. It is an entirely different thing to SHOW you how to build one.

When it comes to blogging, you might be thinking:

What do I say? I’m not an expert. Who cares what I have to say? How do I keep fresh and interesting content? How can I do more with my blog than just journal or talk about writing? How can my blog connect with readers?

How can I afford alcohol, candy and new shoes with this new budget?

ACK!!! See! Procrastination Pixie! *hits with a fly swatter*

Where was I?

Knowledge is power. Now, let me ask you some questions:

How educated are you about social media as it applies to authors? How much is this lack of knowledge hurting you and your platform? How much time is it wasting in being unproductive? What are going to be the long-term effects of building a platform on a faulty foundation?

How much time will a little bit of good education save you? How much more time will you have to work on your next novel? How much more time will you have left over to stop drinking and clean out the garage?

Maybe not on the same day, but you get the point.

How much more success will you have because you took time to learn from the successful?

You guys don’t need to reinvent the wheel.

There is A LOT of misinformation about what constitutes an author brand. Many social media experts don’t understand that writers are different. Yes, we really are special unique snowflakes. Author brands are highly unique and complex. What works for Starbucks doesn’t work for writers and for selling books. Go here if you want to know why traditional marketing doesn’t sell books.

I am a writer first. The brand I will help you create will be with you for a lifetime, will grow as you and your career grows. Blogs need to define our brand, not hold us hostage. Not all blog content will work well for growing your brand. Good content and a solid brand are key to working smarter, not harder.

Order now and shipping and handling is FREE!!!!

The self-made man is a myth. No one is successful alone. If we try to do social media all by ourselves by blitzing out spam and form-letters and collecting neat e-mail lists, we are more likely to wear out and give up than to succeed.

WE ARE NOT ALONE!!!!!

The key to being successful on social media is to learn to work as a team and create community. Our team will keep us focused and the Pixies at bay.

I didn’t become successful alone. I had help. More help than I deserved. Now I am here to teach you guys how to create a community vested in your success. We need to learn how to connect to influential people. We need to connect to more than just other writers.

Don’t let the Pixies steal another year. Stand your ground and choose success. Sign up as soon as possible! There are only 100 slots and last time the workshop sold out. Currently over a third of the slots are already filled so time is running out!!!!

If you have taken my workshop, take a moment and share what you learned and how the workshop helped you, transformed you, or revealed six-pack abs you didn’t even know you had. What are your thought? Fears? Cool recipes for rum balls? I dig hearing from you.

And to prove it and show my love, for the month of December, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of December I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!

I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . Both books are ON SALE for $4.99!!!! And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in th biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books!

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66 Comments

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