Tag Archives: social media

Politicizing the Girl

A Woman's Place Is in the Resistance

 

You may have noticed our heroine’s twitter feed has much less to do with writing and much more to do with politics these days, Dear Reader. Fear not, I have not forgotten about writing. I’m trying to pace my outrage and get back to writing.

When I was quite young, my parents were grooming me to go into politics. Specifically their politics. They were stoic Republicans, very conservative Nixon backers, and therefore so was I. In our house, it was unheard of to think for yourself. And hey, I was 9 years old. So I went to the political meetings in my area, I campaigned with my local Congressman and did photo ops with him, and I thought I was doing my part for the country.

When I was 14, I was perhaps the youngest person to intern in a Congressman’s office in DC. Everyone thought my high school class ring was a college one and assumed I was older. I was served along with my co-interns in other offices when we went out to clubs. My Congressman, who knew me from the campaign trail, was a leader in the Conservative Union. He led the way in a treaty with the Soviet Union. While in his office, I learned a lot. The biggest lesson was what he and my parents stood for.

I was appalled.

That summer, Supertramp’s “The Logical Song” was popular and it spoke to my anger and disillusionment. I could not tell my parents how learning what their values were had sickened me. I dreaded going back home after the internship ended. Luckily, I didn’t have to get my Congressman’s approval of the research project I did for the internship program. My position was polar opposite his stated one. (Perhaps it’s small of me to note, but I’ll do it anyway: this same Congressman, who violently opposed gay rights, was later disgraced when he was arrested for propositioning a minor male for sex and left office. He went on to come out and, as far as I know, is a liberal who champions LGBTQA+ rights.)

That’s the history. I could go on, such as talking about my future involvement in campaigns after I left home for college at 16 and was no longer forced to hold my tongue. When Reagan was elected, my friends and I shared a few bottles of cheap wine and formed a small procession through the campus, carrying candles to the flagpole, where we extinguished our candles in a dramatic gesture of dismay for the country. More recently, I campaigned for Obama and helped people who were voting for their first time, young and old, to be prepared for the ballot process. I confess, I teared up with some of them, both nervous and excited to be electing him. Oh, looks like I went on after all. Sorry. Stream of consciousness blogging.

None of this prepared me for what’s taken place in our country, our world, over the last year.

My outrage is too great to let fly here. It seeps through my Twitter feed. I believe we need to stay aware of what’s going on, stay involved in the process however we can, and fix what’s wrong deep down in our country. Hearing others and healing the great rift this election exposed is a primary need for the United States. (Brexit voting shows similar trends and other countries are facing conservative backlashes. A nice way of saying racism and other bigotries are influencing the world in horrifying ways.)

But writing. I got nowhere with NaNoWriMo in November. The election devastated me. I was sick almost immediately and then both my older son and I were hospitalized at the same time. The story remains to be written and it’s entirely escapism, especially for me as the writer. As yet it is untitled. I call it the Historical Romance Trope Novel.

The real issue is getting my head out of my outrage, into my hopes for our world, and into my story world. I’m taking advice from Gareth L. Powell, who wrote a great blog post: How to Keep Being Creative in a Crisis. He writes: Art doesn’t stop for history. In some ways, art is history. That has become my reminding mantra. (Thank you, Gareth.)

Of course, when I really need a kick in the ass, there’s also Chuck Wendig‘s Art even harder, motherfucker!  (Thank you, Chuck.)

I’m going to continue to be politically active. I can’t imagine not being involved to the best of my ability. Keep making those calls. March if you can. But take time to be creative, too. It’s healing, both for you and for our world.

Are you struggling to be creative in this climate, no matter where you live? How are you coping – or ARE you coping? I’d love to hear from others who are doing well, not doing well, or just getting by day to day.

Forum: Twitter

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know our heroine refers to Twitter often, dear Reader. Names are linked to their Twitter pages and #hashtags are mentioned often. Chances are excellent you found your way to this article via Twitter, in fact.

This article is for those new to Twitter, but it holds information worthwhile for veterans as well. Are you getting all you can out of it?

Perhaps you’re a Twitter newbie. Have you heard that Twitter’s made up of people announcing what they had for lunch? Perhaps when you sign in, you feel like you’re at a party full of people you don’t know? Fair enough. If you’re following the wrong people or don’t know how to find the right ones, Twitter’s going to seem like an epic fail.

There are a number of shared interest groups on Twitter. One of the most popular ones for writers is the hashtag #amwriting. Give and get support from fellow writers of all formats, all genres. Begun by @johannaharness, it’s been a constant source of information and inspiration for me. I suggest you find a hashtag such as #amwriting, put it in your Search and read what’s being posted. Like what someone’s got to say? Follow that person and maybe you’ll get to learn more than just what he or she had for lunch. (You might want to start with @johannaharness, in fact.) To join in, just put #amwriting (including the #) anywhere in your tweet.

Looking for inspiration or need a little kick in the pants for your muse? #storystarters offers prompts written by many different writers. Add your own if you like. This hashtag was begun by @Selorian, another worthy follow. There are so many more. Here are a few off the top of my head: #FridayFlash, #ss500, #vss, #amwritingparty, #WIPfire, #writechat, #litchat, #yalitchat, #thrillerchat. This list really never ends. My advice: choose a few and concentrate on them, dabbling in others as needed.

With social media sites as part of your platform, you’ll want to be sure you’re playing nicely. There is such a thing as Twitter etiquette. You’ll get more out of Twitter by using it. One of the best guides I found for this is by Chris Brogan. Titled A Brief and Informal Twitter Etiquette Guide, it covers the field pretty well. You’ll see Chris mentioned in a number of “Must Follow” articles.

Here’s another article titled Twitter Tips for Writers + 25 Good Follows. It’s on Editor Unleashed, Maria Schneider‘s terrific blog. Take a look at this article for help diving into Twitter. The follows suggested are top-notch.

Want some more people to follow? How about you choose among the ones on Literary Tweets: 100+ of the Best Authors on Twitter. (No, I’m not listed. [sniffle] Yet.) It’s on Mashable’s site, Mashable: The Social Media Guide. Mashable itself is a fantastic resource, so you’ll want to keep an eye on it, too.

Problogger has an article titled 9 Benefits of Twitter for Bloggers that is eye opening. It makes a strong case for why writers should be using Twitter and blogs in a coordinated manner. Moreover, it shows how to do it. You can follow Problogger as well.

Quips and Tips for Successful Writers has a spiffy article, too. Don’t dismiss it if you’re not a freelancer. There’s great info here for all writers. Titled How Twitter Helps Freelance Writers – Tips for Successful Writing, it lists 13 of the best things about Twitter for writers. Look closely and you may find some people to follow within the article.

Twitter can be nothing but GIGO (garbage in, garbage out) if you’re not using it well. For those who use it properly, it can be a gold mine of information, support and networking. Don’t be shy, reach out and send a message to someone. Don’t stalk, though. That’s just bad form. (I refer you again to Chris Brogan’s etiquette guide above.)

One word of warning for the newbies: Twitter can become a tremendous time-sink. I’ve heard that it entertains our lizard brain because there’s never an end. Whatever the reason, pay attention to the time you start and give yourself a time to pull your head back out. It’s supposed to be a helpful tool, not a hindrance.

What are your favorite Twitter tips, follows or moments? I’d love to hear your experiences.

Forum: Agent Advice and Info

If you haven’t already noticed, our heroine is here to tell you that there’s plenty of information to be had on the net about writing, dear Reader. Some of it is excellent. Some of it is awful. Some of it is even worse and can leave a writer demoralized. Let’s concentrate today on some of the more constructive sort, shall we?

I’ve elected to stick mainly with sites written by well-known literary agents. Their focus is answering questions to do with writing and publishing (gee, go figure!) and range pretty freely.

Rachelle Gardner‘s Rants and Ramblings has an article titled Random! Questions! Answered! which caught my eye. She asked on Twitter for followers to post questions to her. Choosing a variety, she answered briefly. The last question was turned over to the readers for input. Take a look for some insight into her approach to being an agent.

Bookends has an article similarly titled Random Questions. In it, Jessica Faust has taken a group of questions sent into the blog and answered them. They are, as the title suggests, not on a theme so do take the time to read through it. Plenty of good info and advice to be found here, too.

Now here’s a major resource for all authors, particularly writers new to publishing. Chip MacGregor wrote not one but three articles referring specifically to the most basic questions about publishing. Chip’s Blog starts with Basic Basic Basic Questions, moves to More on the Basic Basics and then wraps up with One More Look at Basic Basic Questions. I strongly suggest a good read of these posts. File away what doesn’t apply right now as you may find the info important later. By all means, bookmark these if you’re still getting on your feet in the business.

There’s plenty more to be had by well-known and great literary agents on the net. I’ll be adding agent sites to my links soon. What are your favorite informative sites for advice? Please let me know so I can add them to my bookmarks as well. Thanks!

Optimism

Our heroine is having an optimistic morning, dear Reader. @RKCharron announces releases on Twitter and congratulates the authors every Tuesday morning. I was uppity enough to think, “How cool will it be when it’s my turn for one of those!”

I mean…. really… we have pushed in our faces all day, every day, that the odds are against us as writers. The hurdles to getting published are tall and many. Yes, it comes down to writing a good story, but you’ve got to get your story read for that to matter. Synopses, queries, platforms, pitches, hurdle, hurdle, hurdle, oh my!

Do you have your up days and down days as far as publishing goes? I sure do. The simple fact that one does not query until one has a novel that’s pristine and ready to be seen keeps me going. I don’t have to face those hurdles yet. I’m submersed in the joy of the writing. In fact, I’m doing the writing still, not the re-writing. I won’t get to the re-writing until I finish the book I begin next month during NaNo. Sometimes my attitude starts to slip and I begin to think, “Why do we bother in the face of these absurd odds?” I stick my head right down into the sand and get to writing.

This sure doesn’t sound like a post about optimism, does it? It is, I promise. Yes, even I, with the attitude and coping mechanism I just described, can be optimistic for days on end. I want to say weeks on end, but I might be pushing it there. If what it comes down to is the story, hey, I’ve got a good story. I’m even writing it well. Sometimes I finish a scene in my rough draft and stop cold. “Nailed it!” That feels amazing. So yeah, if what it comes down to is the story, why not me?

I follow many people on Twitter. I carry on conversations with several regularly. Some are popular authors, some well-known literary agents. I didn’t follow them because of that. In most cases I had no idea who they were, I admit it. I followed the person because he or she posted interesting things a few times and caught my attention. These people are just like those of us who are facing the dread of queries and slush piles. They follow many of the same people, retweet many of the same posts and laugh at the same things. Twitter is the great leveler in the writing field, I suppose. We’re all the same, standing around in the same coffee shop and chatting.

So yes, our heroine is optimistic today. Why not me? And frankly, even if not me, what a wonderful thing it is to be writing these stories. There is nothing like the feeling when I get to a point in a story where I feel like I’m breathing it. I can smell it, taste it, feel it and must get it out, must share it with others. Maybe that’s enough. What a privilege that is.

I’m finishing up the rough draft of Book #2 in my Into the Mirror series. Oh, I know, you don’t write a series and try to sell it. I can’t help it, though. The stories held me hostage. What a rare and glorious privilege it’s been, getting this rough draft down. I look forward to visiting it again and re-writing it, tightening and polishing it into a gem.

That feeling, dear Reader, is in itself so wonderful that at this moment I don’t care “why not me?” It reminds me why I do this: because I have a novel in my head. I need to get it out so I can share it with others. No matter how I share it, no matter how many get to read it.

Thanks for sticking with me through a rambling post. I started with “why not me?” I ended with a simple truth “that’s not why I do this, so it doesn’t matter.” Ah, perspective. If I ever lose sight of that, smack me upside the head and make me read this post, please? Thanks.

Friday Forum: Queries 101

When our heroine tentatively approached twitter, dear Reader, two manuscripts at her  back, she had no idea what she was doing.

In fact, I had no idea why I was approaching twitter. Seriously. Had never heard of an author’s platform, wasn’t looking to network within social media, knew nothing. Scary, eh? I’m no expert now. I’m still researching these topics I bring you on the Friday Forum and sifting through the links I find to give you the ones I think are useful.

I remind myself of these things often lately. Actually, a good friend is instrumental in my doing so. He recently came to the twitter writing hashtags with the same bright-eyed innocence I had. The other day, he was full of questions after an #askagent by @ColleenLindsay (thanks!) in which she said, “No query questions!” First question: What’s a query?

Ohmygoodness. Yes, I remember wondering, too. I also recognized that while I had a reasonably good idea what one was, I was in no way prepared to write one. So here we go.

We begin at BookEnds, LLC – A Literary Agency‘s blog for their article Definition of a Query for obvious reasons. While it’s not an exhaustive look at the subject, it does give an idea of what would be considered a query.

There’s an article at There Are No Rules by the amazing Jane Friedman titled 5 Elements of a Query Letter that I recommend highly. Not only is this article informative, it has a collection of links you’ll want to follow. You’ll likely bookmark several. (I did.) This is a blog to watch.

Bubblecow has an article by Gary Smailes called 3 Ways to Improve Your Query Letter. It’s a concise look at queries and basic ways to improve them. Do take a look, it’s worth it.

There is, of course, Query Etiquette. Rachelle Gardner‘s article in her blog Rants and Ramblings: On Life as a Literary Agent posted an article titled Querying Multiple Agents. You’ll definitely want to take a look at this one. Even if you’re testing the waters by just sending one, get the low down on query etiquette.

Now that we’ve brought up the idea of querying multiple agents, we bring up the idea of keeping track of them all. Let me emphasize here: I have not tested these. I’m only posting this one link as an example of what’s out there. Get some recommendations from friends, ratings from trusted sources and find out what works for you.

QueryTracker is a free database of literary agents and it tracks queries to multiple agents. Seems pretty handy-dandy when it comes to that sort of thing. Any Readers want to recommend something else? Please do! Leave a comment, I’d love to take a closer look into it.

Here’s an article I love. Johanna Harness has written an article titled Seven Things I’ve Learned from Querying. So worth the time to read! You’ll learn the lessons, too. Her writing style is delightful, so you’ll even enjoy the process of learning them. Of course, nothing says you won’t have to learn them the hard way yourself, but at least you’ll be forewarned.

So that’s a general look at queries. There were so so so many articles, really good ones, that I skipped in order to have some flow, to go step by step in my look at queries for you. Take a look around. If you’re on twitter, follow URL’s that are posted about queries. (If you’re not on twitter, why not? Seriously.)

I’d love to get your feedback, positive and negative. In the meantime, I wish you a good week and good writing.

Friday Forum: Get Read

Dear Reader, our heroine is perpetually amazed at the single-mindedness of the unpublished novelist, herself included. It brings on head shaking and wry laughter. Having not yet papered my office walls with rejection notices, I do not laugh bitterly. I do, however, take a look at articles with advice regarding how to get my novels read.

We’ll take on the dreaded queries and the loathsome synopses in the future, I assure you. Those are *major* hurdles to get the novel read. I’m not ignoring them. Each deserves a special article or three. In the meantime, I found other information I felt was useful.

Literary agent Rachelle Gardner‘s article Writing the BREAK-IN Novel is the kind of talking-to each and every novelist needs to hear, in my opinion. She puts it all into perspective. As a novelist, I tend to get wrapped up in each of my projects. I have favorites. Sometimes that’s based on whichever one I worked on most recently. Sometimes it’s due to it just plain being better than the others. I’m fickle that way. This article taught me to get past that and think like a publisher. Perhaps this is the first step between being solely a writer and diving into the great world of publishing?

FifthEstate‘s Daniel Clay posted an article titled A Winning Strategy for Escaping the Slush Pile. As you can imagine, I snapped that bookmark up in a hurry. It is exactly as advertised. That is to say, it is a strategy for that very goal and has been successful. YMMV. At the very least, there’s a good deal of good sense in the post. I hope you don’t miss out on it.

Surviving the Odds as a Debut Novelist on the Three Guys One Book blog is a good look at That Which Cannot Be Avoided: Social Media. Among other things, they discuss the importance of having a readership already in place. I’d never heard of several of the links and techniques they discuss, so I took notes.

Back to basics: Louise Wise posted an article simply titled Manuscript Layout. You may have written The Greatest Novel of This Century. If you’ve messed up the layout, it’s not likely to be read. In fact, you can just about count on it being skipped.

What to do if you’ve done everything correctly and it’s still not selling? Write Another Book, says Rachelle Gardner. She’s written a sensible, encouraging article on the matter. Don’t skip over this one. There’s a lot of good advice in this piece.

In fact, literary agent Janet Reid echoes some of the thoughts in her article How Soon Is Too Soon. This is the article that nudged me off the fence and got me busy writing the second book of my series. I’ve learned so much doing so that I see the first book can be edited into a better story. I was getting ready to query on the first book when I discovered this article. She saved me a lot of pain from rejection letters. More importantly, the decision led to the realization that I could write better novels.

Doing what needs done to get read does not mean forcing your story into some cookie cutter image that doesn’t suit you or the novel. No matter how important the other elements are (query, synopsis, web presence), it comes down to whether you’ve written a good novel. Write with abandon, edit well and take some of the good advice offered in these articles.

Conquering Challenges: Brainspin

I know, I know. This blog is part of my Author Platform and is therefore required to be of a certain tone. I find some of the blogs I read that are set up for this purpose to lack personality. No offense to anyone – or any blog – because I feel sure I’m breaking The Social Media Rules by even mentioning such heresy.

Our heroine has tried, dear Reader, to stay within the rigid lines set by the Social Media Gods. How has she done? Only you can really say. (And she hopes you will, right down there in the comments area.) But darnit, this blog is hers, all hers, and she’s going to occasionally post something personal.

Like this:

I have hardly written a thing recently. Other priorities have usurped my time and attention. That’s a nice, sanitized way of saying that my health has been worse than usual. It gets worse, I rest and think I’ll be able to write later in the day and suddenly it’s the next day. Rinse. Repeat.

It’s a vicious cycle, one I am usually able to avoid with discipline, meditation and – no kidding – Twitter. The writing communities on Twitter and the people I follow buoy my spirit and inflate my sense of self as a writer when they are in need. I recommend the hashtags #amwriting and #writegoal highly.

This last week, a new challenge appeared. I’ve had acute vertigo, which I’ve dubbed Brainspin. Even when sitting, I have been in the midst of a bobbling cyclone. Days have been spent seeking medical attention, usurping more of my time. Heavy meds later, I can stay seated safely. When still, I experience just the bobbling. Huzzah!

I’ve taken the opportunity to read over my WIP to date, doing a very light edit. I followed much of my own advice from a previous blog entry. I’ve gotten back in the bobbling saddle, coaxed my muse with creme brulée roast coffee and am at the precipice of New Word Order. I’m so excited to be here that I felt compelled to share it with you, dear Reader.

Challenges are aplenty in our world. We each have our own set and those of us who are compelled to write are also compelled to conquer these challenges. Care to share yours? What’s your secret for getting past them?