Frankenfriends & Zombie Tweets–Writers, Social Media and the Undead

It writes the words or is gets the hose....

It writes the words or is gets the hose….

Writers are funny when it comes to social media. Okay, we are funny when it comes to more than social media. Face it, if you had a normal childhood, you likely never grew up to become a writer. Likely you aren’t rich either, because then you could have afforded therapy.

So if you are a writer, you probably are at least tangentially insane and too cheap to pay for an fancy shrink. It is why we write, right? And this is all well and good, because I think sane people write lousy books anyway, but crazy has advantages and disadvantages. Crazy makes for killer books, but it tends to also lend itself to extreme thinking.

Writers are really bad about all or nothing, even in social media. Either we are on the verge of resorting to adult diapers because we can’t pry away from Twitter, or we hiss and scurry for safety in the shadows when anyone mentions social media.

Writing is a Killer

Writers who are successful have to learn two things. First, we need to learn balance. I still struggle with this. The writer who is going to be here for the long-haul to reap success is the one who gets sleep, exercises and eats more than Skittles chased with Red Bull.

Yeah, learned that one the hard way. 

Also, we must learn to balance when to have that pit bull focus, and when to ease back on the throttle and remember we have other responsibilities…like basic hygiene, finishing books and social media.

I would love to say that writers didn’t need to do social media, but I already lie about my height and my age and too many lies is just beggin’ for bad juju. So we know we need to participate in social media, and build a platform and write books and floss every day, and it gets overwhelming, and so we resort back to that all or nothing stuff, and disappear.

Totally True Brief Story About Writers & the Undead

I get that writers already struggle with being mistaken for one of the undead (refer to picture above taken before Starbucks, as you can tell).  In fact, I believe we writers are the cause of all these stories. Seriously.

Werewolves

Legend has it that a monk (early writer) on deadline chained himself to a wall to finish his edits, because he was getting sidetracked with the new social craze…sending carrier pigeons (early version of Twitter). So he had this new chapter of the Bible due or he was totally going to burn for eternity (and you thought revisions were hard on YOU) and so yeah, he chained himself to the wall with nothing but a quill and paper.

When the other monks wanted to play beer pong (what else do you think they invented beer for?), they couldn’t find him. When they went to check on him, they saw he’d turned into this horrible beast with fangs, and there was this full moon. Naturally they thought the moon was turning him into this beast. Easy mistake. No one ever put two and two together that their buddy’s deadline always fell on the full moon.

It wasn’t the moon…it was last-minute revisions that turned him into this beast.

Vampire

Early writer in Transylvania, couldn’t quit his day job of selling…carrots. Stayed up all night writing and all the red ink from edits just, say…let to misunderstandings.

Frankenstein

Early experiments with energy drinks gone horribly wrong.

True stories I just made up. Okay, yes I have a point. I have to make this fun. How else am I going to teach writers social media unless I coat it with sparkly vampires?

The Undead and Social Media

I get it. I understand you guys. I’m a writer first. Sometimes we have to stay up all night and we do seem to grow fangs, normally around the 65th time a family member has interrupted us, since “we aren’t really working.” I feel your pain. But we have to be really careful that we aren’t bringing undead habits into social media. No one likes to hang out with the undead. Frankenstein? Zero friends. Zombies? Again, zero friends. Vampires? A few friends, but all with serious trust issues.

NYCZombie

Hmmm, must be a writer’s conference….

Zombie Blog and Frankentweet

There are writers who I see all the time and I like their blog and then….GONE. Nowhere on Twitter. No longer commenting. No pulse. Then, just about the time I have mourned their loss and moved on to make new friends?

They come baaaack.

Three months or even six months later, their twitter handles or blogs rises from the dead and needs to feed. Now they are tweeting all the time and talking to people and likely telling everyone about the book they have coming out or just released. Only, if you pay close attention, you will see it is the same tweet trying to appear it’s alive when it isn’t (automated). It has no mind and just prowls for victims readers.

Instead of braaaaaiiiiiiins, it moans saaaaallllllleeeeeesssss, buuuuyyyyyyyy, freeeeeeeeeeee. Buuuuy myyy booook.

Don’t be a Frankenfriend

Remember that all-or-nothing thinking I mentioned at the beginning? That is what gets us in trouble and turns us into a Frankenfriend. If we make these unrealistic goals, or we don’t understand how to use social media effectively, we burn out, we go to extremes…and we don’t get the full benefits of having a social media platform.

Less is More

Social media takes less than 20 minutes a day (unless you add in a blog, which I DO recommend). Even with a blog? Not that much time. Get my books or take my classes. We actually have far more impact if we aren’t posting a bunch of times a day. We just have to show up. Attendance counts. A handful of tweets or interactions a day.

Quality, not quantity.

And sure, if you are a Chatty Cathy like me, it is fine, but on those days, weeks when you can’t be chatty? Just pop in. Say “hi.” Give us proof of life. It’s all we ask.

Work in a Team 

Yes, writers need a social media platform, but no one ever said you had to do it all alone. Join up with the WANAs either on Twitter at #MyWANA, Facebook, or the WANA social site, WANATribe (here is an invitation). We work together. All easy-squeezy. Books are not so cost-prohibitive that we can’t support each other.

This is one of the benefits of being a WANA. We are not alone.

When we work as a team, we can pull weight for each other. If we have to do revisions, our pals can guest post for us. We have friends who can tweet about our book or blogs if, for some reason we can’t (like illness or emergency). All of us serve each other because we are totally paying it forward. We know we are going to have to ask for help one day, too.

So what are your thoughts? Are you a member of the Twitter undead? Did you see a light? How did you make it back? What are your stories of social media undead? Heck, let’s have some fun. Do you think writers are the source for all these stories of creatures roaming the night? What’s your version? Have writers been mistaken for any other creatures of the night? Mythical beasts? How do you balance your social media and writing? Are you a WANA and wana give your team a shout-out and tell stories of how the WANAs have been there for you? Bought beer?

Oh, for those in the Denver, Colorado area, I will be speaking this weekend for the Heart of Denver Romance Writers. Come! I would LOVE to meet you! Register here!

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of May, 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 May I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!

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  1. #1 by JoAnne Potter on May 16, 2013 - 1:13 pm

    OK, so I don’t just tweet about myself…but still don’t get how to have meaningful relationships at 140 characters or less. Edit, edit, edit.

    • #2 by Author Kristen Lamb on May 16, 2013 - 1:15 pm

      Come chat on #MyWANA. Have met some of my closest friends that way.

      • #3 by JoAnne Potter on May 16, 2013 - 7:45 pm

        OK, I did, and found the Between the Sheets Voice contest. Entered it. Woo hoo!

  2. #4 by Tamara LeBlanc on May 16, 2013 - 1:19 pm

    I’ve been a bit of the un-dead lately, but I have good reason. My husband just had his second brain surgery in less than a year (tumor returned) so I’ve been in the hospital with him for a week and tried to do some social media-ing here and there, tried to check blog posts and update FB, but I fell a little short. But I still tried, so I give myself a pat on the back🙂
    What’s suffering a bit more, however, is my writing. I’ve gone from writing over a 1,000 wrds a day, to a measly few pages. Grrrr, it makes me antsy. I want to finish and send this puppy off.
    But, again, I’ll pat myself on the shoulder because at least I’ve been trying. And hey, writing in a hospital room with nurses coming in every 15 min for vitals is tough.
    I LOVED how you gave us a brief history of Werewolves, vampires and other Twitter fiends ala-Kristen.
    Gave me a chuckle!!
    Have a great weekend🙂
    Tamara

    • #5 by aprobertsstories on May 16, 2013 - 2:15 pm

      I was going to write a long comment like you, Tamara. But you said everything I was thinking (just change brain surgery to bone marrow transplant). I hope your husband feels better soon and that the tumor doesn’t return again. And remember, any writing you get done during this time is more than you need to do.

      I also never heard of WANA before. I’ll have to check it out once all the medical stuff is finished.

  3. #6 by Chris on May 16, 2013 - 1:47 pm

    A Great read. Thanks for the laughter while making good points!

  4. #7 by Jessica Burde on May 16, 2013 - 2:14 pm

    Ooh, I’ve been quilty of this. not the automated tweets – I’ve never gotten that bad. But it seems like I can only focus on one social media at a time, so I’m all over twitter for a few weeks. Then gone and all over LinkedIN, which account then goes dead while I get active on G+, and…. I think I’ve finally gotten the hang of spending a few minutes on each of a few critical SM outlets each day, and finally figured out which ones matter and which ones don’t (NOTE: for a fiction writer, LinkedIN really doesn’t.)

  5. #8 by marsharwest on May 16, 2013 - 2:38 pm

    Always an entertaining and informative post, Kristen. When I heard you talk in March, 2011 at the NTRWA confernece, I was overwhelmed with all you said and I heard. But now I have a blog with a pretty good following, follow and am followed on FB and Twitter (though it’s my least favorite), and follow many blogs. Too many, Ha. I’m addicted. I can’t just read, I have to post. I sometimes even reply to others’ comments. Between emails, blogs and social media, I’ve really cut into my writing time.
    Balance was the word, right, Kristen? Got to work on balance.🙂 Off to work on the next book. First book, VERMONT ESCAPE, will be out this summer.

  6. #9 by Jennette Marie Powell on May 16, 2013 - 3:02 pm

    Um…. Twitter undead here. What Joann said. It’s hard to get to know people in 140-character bits. I just don’t have much that’s interesting to tweet – I’m boring, that’s why I write fiction.🙂

  7. #10 by moxeyns on May 16, 2013 - 3:03 pm

    *sniff* NEVER use automated tweets? EVER?

    • #11 by Author Kristen Lamb on May 16, 2013 - 3:09 pm

      I wouldn’t. Can go BAD FAST. A lot of people who automated really got bitten during the Boston Marathon bombing. The nation was hurting and suffering and then we get, “Hey, how’s everyone doing? Check out my book!” Pi$$ed people off with a quickness.

  8. #12 by Thomas Linehan on May 16, 2013 - 3:18 pm

    All the reply’s are what I used when I stopped writing for about 30 years. About the time that I was getting ready to retire at 56 my son told me that he was writing a screen play. cool! I think the fact that my son was into writing was cool, even though most of his life he did not live with me. There really is this gene thing flying around our family generations. That’s cool too! I digress. After retirement I took a part time job where I had plenty of time on my hands and this story started working in my head–it’s a big head. Long and short 3 years, 98,000 words later it’s at the editor now. Another follow-up is working in my head (big head), and I have also started a childrens book or an adult childrens book or something like that. We’ll see how it turns out.
    I had stopped writing because of life’s pressures and when I relaxed it flowed better and faster. The point here is not to put the pressure on yourself, and I think that it will flow like the stream in your back yard, or the septic stream? Either way it’s all down hill.

    tdlmaine.

  9. #13 by J. L. Mbewe on May 16, 2013 - 3:25 pm

    YES, yes, yes. This is so me….sigh. And it doesn’t help when the mood is swinging, to maintain enough composure of sanity to think of something to tweet or update a FB status. And for the record, no, I’ve never automated anything.🙂

  10. #14 by Jai on May 16, 2013 - 4:09 pm

    Timely post. I am guilty as charged.
    I have been a zombie blog and recently a Frankenfriend.

    This was an awesome blog.
    I’d comment more, but I’m off to blog something.

  11. #15 by danielocceno on May 16, 2013 - 6:55 pm

    At sixteen back in high school when I first got my license to drive, I wrote in that I was 5-4 when I was 4-10. The lady knew that I wrote the wrong height, but she did not say anything. Sure enough, female high school classmates would grab my wallet to look at my pictures and my driver’s license info and said: “You are not five-foot-four.” No money to date in the wallet. I was trying to learn how to write the novels was the reason that I stopped commenting on blogs for writers awhile back. I joined NaNoWriMo and JANO Writers to learn how to increase my word count. An AVON Romance editor was doing a blog guest somewhere and she wrote back to someone that if the novel was not at the very least 90K, she would not even bother to read the first sentence. And I was trying to write more than a novella of 20K plus. But today after the two-year sabbatical with NaNoWriMo people, the word count is not a scary monster chasing me in my daydreams. I make time to read the blogs and comment when suitable.

  12. #16 by Athena Brady on May 16, 2013 - 7:42 pm

    Great post Kristen and so true, afraid I have been guilty of both trying to do better.

  13. #17 by Jess Witkins on May 16, 2013 - 8:55 pm

    Bahahaha! I love the werewolf legend!

    Wait, only 20 minutes??? Eep.

  14. #18 by Shea Ford on May 16, 2013 - 9:41 pm

    I think I can get away with buying your book soon, reguardless of my uber practical, creative energy sucking hubby. (still love him to pieces anyway). I don’t think I’m an undead, more like a foreign sprite at a dinner party. Tasting food here and there, using the wrong utensils, not sure what to make of it all.

    Finally downloaded TweetDeck though!😀

  15. #19 by mummylovestowrite on May 17, 2013 - 1:17 am

    I do use automated tweets to promote when I have published a new blog post. I find it is just too hard to get on there enough in a 24/7 way to allow new readers to find me. I am in Australia and the timezone difference is a bit of an issue.

    In saying that, I do interact with people on Twitter daily, both locally and overseas. I do it for brief periods, say 2-3 times in a day. So I am not disappearing for periods of time or feel like all people see from me is READ MY BLOG. In saying that, the automation is only a recent addition. Before that I was doing it all manually, several times a day and it was painful.

    Great post though, Kristen, I loved the werewolf/vampire/Frankenstein analogy. I do try to get balance as a writer. I have set myself a goal of 1,500 words per day for my novel and today I smashed it out in just over an hour. First drafts are meant to be ordinary….right?

  16. #21 by June Finnigan on May 17, 2013 - 1:43 am

    I just read your blog from start to finish. This is good and it is no doubt down to your drawing my attention to my life as it so often is. I am trying to get on with my second novel and have so far allocated Wednesday mornings, this isn’t working yet as I am too sidetracked by business. I do a weekly blog every Saturday morning and make sure that I do at least one twitter a day. I live in Tuscany and it is traditional to go out to the local coffee bar every morning, so I do brush my teeth and shower. I use wordpress for my blog and it automatically gets flown around the globe through twitter, facebook and linked-in, I find this amazing! I agree with the fact that most writers are crazy and started life badly, I wish sometimes for a mind which can turn off, but not for long. Rock singing eases my stress as does reading other writers’ thrillers…..

  17. #22 by andrewknighton on May 17, 2013 - 2:49 am

    I’ve just started trying to grapple with this properly, so it’s timely advice for me – thanks.

    Monsters-wise, I’d say I spent a long time as a ghost – a blog so thin as to be invisible, insubstantial and unchanging for years because I so seldom wrote on it.

  18. #23 by darksilvertree on May 17, 2013 - 3:24 am

    I’m active on twitter, favoriting and retweeting constantly, but the few times I reply I get no response.Nine times out of ten, the favor isn’t returned. I put it down to not being a ‘big name’ and go about keeping my blog updated, but how do you know when you’re reaching anyone?

    • #24 by Nicky Moxey on May 17, 2013 - 3:37 am

      I’ve just tried to find you on twitter, and failed… I respond to stuff that I’ve been mentioned in (i.e. someone’s used my tag, @moxeyns ) and try and keep up with thanks for RTs; I always reply to conversations. Otherwise, it’ll probably get lost in the stream (20 mins a day on twitter only, remember🙂 A lot of stuff goes by without me reading it. ) Twitter is a very evanescent medium…

  19. #25 by Antypasti on May 17, 2013 - 3:29 am

    lol

  20. #26 by KM Huber on May 17, 2013 - 6:36 am

    I love it when you make up true stories. They are so…true! Great post, Kristen, as always. Just the impetus I needed to return to Twitter for all the stories I have been telling myself about Twitter have been anything but true. Back to #mywana!
    KM

  21. #27 by laurie27wsmith on May 17, 2013 - 7:13 am

    Had a chuckle at the shrink comment, it was my shrink who suggested I write (along with my wife) great therapy I might add. I’m into the whole social media thing but I don’t hammer people with tweets. I post three blogs a week, an anecdotal one on Monday, a poem on Wednesday and photos on fri/sat. I tweet them and probably a couple of interesting news articles. I deplore automated tweets where someone hammers you with 30 of them a day about their book. I guess that someone, somewhere out in the twitterverse might read them.
    Cheers
    Laurie.

  22. #28 by David Erickson on May 17, 2013 - 8:06 am

    This turned out to be a most entertaining blog post. I’ve just gotten active after being silent for a while on Twitter and I’m exploring other social media. It is sad that we writers can’t just be writers and be successful. We must wear many hats, even if the don’t fit well.

  23. #29 by Stephanie Noel on May 17, 2013 - 8:50 am

    “We are on the verge of resorting to adult diapers because we can’t pry away from Twitter”
    That’s me with most social media. I’m a big fan of Twitter because it forces you to be concise. It’s the perfect tool for writers to hone their craft.

    • #30 by Daniel Escurel Occeno on May 17, 2013 - 9:39 pm

      Many medications are a diuretic, which is part of the cure, to flush out the impurities in the body. Using the bathroom becomes almost uncontrollable if you have sickness like diabetes, which one can live with to a ripe of old age.

  24. #31 by Beth Camp on May 17, 2013 - 9:37 pm

    Jai’s blog sent me here. What a nice way to kick back and laugh about issues that often drive writers nuts. Yes, I fully admit to being a Frankenfriend sometimes, AND I’m trying hard not to be a Twitter undead. So the A to Z Challenge and ROW80 are two ‘teams’ (online writing challenges) that help me stay connected. Now I wanna be a wana so I’ll go check that out . . . on Twitter?

  25. #32 by Dennis Langley on May 20, 2013 - 8:17 am

    Finding balance is a major challenge. I’ve been trying to tweet when I’m riding the train but I don’t always take the train. It’s not smart to tweet while driving (also it’s against the law) so, I need to find another time. On a side note, your posts always make me smile. Have a nice day!🙂

  26. #33 by Diana Beebe on May 22, 2013 - 12:01 pm

    Still working on the 20 minutes a day. It can be difficult when I get sucked into the SHINY.🙂

  27. #34 by lythya on June 1, 2013 - 8:43 am

    Haha, I’m a fanfiction.net undead.
    Never could get twitter. i find it extremely annoying and just don’t enjoy it. Sigh. I’m just starting with the blog thing : P

  28. #35 by Tammy J Rizzo on June 4, 2013 - 5:08 pm

    Reblogged this on Tammy J Rizzo and commented:
    I am trying to learn how to really use social media to build my career as a professional author. Kristen Lamb has so much good advice on just how to do that! Check out this post on her blog. Besides being very informative and educational, she’s also quite funny. Go, read it, now!

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  3. Frankenfriends and Zombie Tweets–Writers, Social Media and the Undead | Kristen Lamb’s Blog

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