Sunday, June 29, 2014

Twitter Refresher #marketing

by: Stephanie Burkhart

Twitter is a great resource for marketing in the social media domain. Back in October 2011, I wrote about Twitter and how to use it, so I thought I'd take another look at it – a "refresher" so to speak.

Twitter's changed its look this year. If anything, I find the new look "busy," and I'm a firm believer in the "keeping it simple" look. The good news about the changed look is that it's still easy enough to find the spaces to post a tweet, send a direct message, and find the follow button.

The pros and cons haven't changed. Pros: It's cheap and fun. Cons: It's confusing and intimidating.  In my opinion: if you're new to Twitter, the learning curve is in the middle, not too high, but you have to hunt for a couple of things.

Twitter is a great way to get the word out about a new book, or a new review if you're an author, but in order to be successful, you've got to do a couple of things. I recommend:

·      Dedicate 10-15 minutes a day to be on Twitter.
·      Friend 5 people a day, preferably those who share your interests. If you're an author you might want to target book bloggers and book reviewers. Friending people is a great way to build your Twitter base.
·      Do a half and half. Make half your daily tweets promotional, the other half, let your personality shine. Tweet the little things. I find I always get a good response when I tweet "getting 7-11 coffee."

Going Deeper - Twitter 102

When you tweet, try to use a keyword to describe you or your book. For example, the genre of the book, or the price point.

Use an icebreaker to bring in followers. Icebreakers like "How's the weather your way?" "Who saw Game of Thrones last night?" or "What's your favorite coffee?' attract people to answer and follow.

Use programs like Hoot suite to preschedule tweets so you don't have to be on Twitter frequently, especially if you have a busy day running errands.

If you have a blog, and blog fairly regularly, use Triberr to connect with others to Tweet about your blog posts. The basic Triberr account is free. There is a bit of a high learning curve with Triberr – you need to link up your blog and Twitter, but once you master it, you'll have a steady stream of tweets that will attract people to your blog.

The little things go a long way. It's important to talk about your interests – gardening, movies, music, books, traveling, coffee, wine, things that appeal to kids. Fellow Tweeters get to know you and tend to reciprocate. It's all about reaching out and finding an audience.

#hashtags: when you hashtag a tweet it allows fellow tweeters to find tweets in that topic.

@sign: lets people know you're talking about them, or they are talking about you. I love seeing an "@" sign and my name. I appreciate it and try to reciprocate.

Question: I'd love to hear your thoughts about Twitter. Do you use it? Why or why not? If you do, what do you do that makes it work for you?

Author Bio: Stephanie Burkhart is a 911 dispatcher for LAPD. She loves coffee, adores chocolate and is going to participate in the Walk to Cure Alzheimer's on 20 SEP in Santa Clarita, CA.  Her children's book, "The Giving Meadow," is published with 4RV Publishing.







Friday, June 27, 2014

Europe on Ten Words a Day

Europe on Ten Words a Day

During my sophomore year at the University of Michigan, now many years ago, I discovered an organization that placed students in math and science in other countries for practical work - for what would now be called co-oping. The organization's primary objective was to exchange students among the various European countries, but somehow we managed to start a branch at U of M. I eagerly joined, and successfully lobbied a couple of professors who agreed to sponsor a foreign co-op student for the summer.

When I applied myself, hoping for a placement the summer between my sophomore and junior years, I thus had a preferred status; as someone who had worked for the organization, I went to the front of the queue, so to speak. Since I speak fluent French, I asked for France, Belgium, Luxembourg, or Switzerland, countries where French is spoken.

But placements for students from the United States were limited, and I was offered a spot in the Netherlands, at the Agricultural University of Wageningen, assisting a professor of mathematics.

Dutch has several levels of gutterals, with pronounced somewhat like the German "ch" and a couple more that are deeper in the throat. Gouda, the cheese, for example, is pronounced something like "How-da." It took me a week to learn to pronounce the name of the town, and until I could, I didn't dare go anywhere. Most people my age and younger spoke English,  but many of the older folks in the towns surrounding Wageningen did not.

I still remember my excitement that first weekend when I boarded the bus for a nearby, larger, town, Ede (pronounced Ay-da).

In relatively short order, I found a ballet class in town - I was passionately fond of ballet at the time - and signed up for lessons. It was there that I had my first lesson in cultural insularity.

"I'm an American," I responded when asked where I was from.

"Oh, so am I," a diminutive student replied. "I'm from Nicaragua. How about you?"

"I'm from the United States." And that is how, to this day, I respond when asked what country I'm from.

But soon, being then as now, a voracious reader, I faced the knotty problem of finding reading material in a town without any large bookstores. Hurrying down to the local library, I asked what I needed to do to join: pay a small fee and fill out a form.

The library's supply of books in English was quite small, but fortunately they had a couple of bookcases full of books in French, including a lot of Georges Simenon. So I spent my summer reading through the library's entire supply of Simenon's Maigret novels, some of his others, various memoirs about the war, a memoir by a French doctor, and several French science fiction novel, as well as a French translation of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451.As my father was an attorney, I was familiar with the difference between the French legal system and ours: under French law, the accused is guilty until proven innocent, making Maigret's investigations, the ones leading up to his arresting the guilty party, all the more important.

I very much enjoyed my summer reading. You simply never know when being fluent in  a foreign language well will come in handy.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Create Pre-Book Buzz

How to Create Pre-Book Buzz

By Suzanne Cordatos

Your long-awaited book is FINALLY hitting the shelves in the foreseeable future. How do you build buzz that drives book sales? Be pro-active! Here's how to get started and FIND YOUR AUDIENCE!

Write non-fiction articles and use social media to find folks that relate to your fiction topic
At first glance, there isn't much non-fiction I can squeeze from my upcoming 4RV picture book about a dragon, Willard the Dragon: Sneeze-Fire. But look again! Willard loves pepper jelly. How about putting a recipe for pepper jelly on my blog with a link to it from Facebook? Willard loves to play in the snow. I started a Pinterest page showcasing snow-dragon photos.  The dragon catches a bad cold, so an article geared for pre-schoolers on how to avoid catching a cold would be appropriate for a school newsletter, or perhaps an online magazine can pick it up. With the third Hobbit movie coming out this year, dragons are everywhere. I can hop on the bandwagon with an article about books and their famous dragon characters.

Focus on finding the niche where your readers hang out
In the case of my upcoming novel, The Lost Crown of Apollo, the problem isn’t so much coming up with non-fiction topics as how to narrow the field of too many. Anyone who has dipped their toes in the pool of Greek history knows it is a deep ocean rich with material. Archaeology, thousands of years of history and wars, religion, islands, tourism, boating, Greek mythology . . . the list goes on and on. How do I find new angles on such well-trodden paths? The main characters discover spear fishing, snorkeling, jellyfish that light up like Christmas and explore cave formations. I can write articles about these topics, along with kid-friendly history about the Greek islands. Did you know that the Greek island homes were built with a maze of alleys on purpose to confuse pirates? Narrow the focus to find your potential readers.

Publishing takes forever—how can I get articles out there before my book?
Seek out newsletters for special interest groups (print and online) and discover local groups for special interests that may have their own publications/flyers. Does your main character ride a bike or dig for dinosaur bones? There are often city clubs and local groups who gather for shared interests from kite-flying to hiking to archaeological digs. These venues may have a website, blog, flyer, meetings and festivals in which to volunteer as a guest contributor. In a timely manner, you'll build a readership of kids and parents most likely care for your store before it becomes available. What author doesn't want a long line of people anxious for their special signed copy?

Think global, act local
Community bulletin boards, local library and independent bookstore newsletters may be a good source. Develop a grassroots base of fans for your book that can spill out into social media and cyberspace. Discover local clubs in interest areas similar to your main characters. With further digging and a few phone calls, you may find that these groups have newsletters of their own that could print a timely article—and could welcome you as a guest speaker expert on a topic of direct interest to future readers. The local preschools may like to have a guest speaker talk about how to not let your dragon catch a cold!

My fictional family spends their summer vacation on a boat. While there may not be much interest for ancient Greek mythology in my local area, there is a lot of interest for boating of all kinds. I live near the beautiful Connecticut shoreline with an old whaling tradition and diehard boaters in places like Mystic, Guilford, Stonington, and the Thimble Islands. Bank Street Books and RJ Julia are a fantastic independent bookstores along the shoreline and they constantly host events with authors. With some pre-book effort on your part, you'll have a ready made audience anxious to click "buy" when your book comes out!

What ideas have worked to generate your book buzz? Please share in comments!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

How Do You Make a Good Story Worthy of Getting Past the Gatekeeper?

By Karen Cioffi

Just about every author knows about the "gatekeeper." The dreaded acquisitions editor who decides if your manuscript is worthy of her attention and the publishing house's backing. In other words, the editor who decides if your manuscript is worthy of a publishing contract.

To make sure your ‘good’ story becomes a 'worthy' story, the Writer's Digest article, "7 Simple Ways to Make a Good Story Great" gives excellent tips on just what it takes to create a 'worthy' story.

The author of the article, Elizabeth Sims, explains that "there are subtle differences between fiction that’s passable and fiction that pops—fiction that shows that you know what you’re doing."

So what are those 7 strategies or tips?

1. Well, the first tip mentioned is the five senses. Sims says writers have to go beyond what is expected. Editors and agents want more. "They want physical business that deepens not just your setting, but your characterizations."

2. Next on the list is the use of idiosyncrasies. Each of us has some idiosyncrasy, some weirdness, some form of irrational behavior that makes us unique and interesting. Using those characteristics deepens and broadens your characters.

3. Third up is realism. Sims says, "Forget about being pretty." Write it as it is. Don't worry about it being raw or dark or unpopular. Don’t go for the popular or expected, make it real.

4. The fourth on the list is to write without 'dumbing' down. Readers are savvy and most are educated. They don't want to be written down to, to be told what to think and when. Let them fill in the empty spaces.

5. Fifth on the list is to keep it focused and moving forward. I've read a number of manuscripts that had 'pausing' information - content that wasn't needed in the story and that would make the reader pause, wondering why it was in there. Causing a reader to pause while reading is never a good thing. Pausing causes distraction, which may keep the reader from turning the next page.

6. Next up is the use of laughter. Wit and understated humor goes a long way in increasing engagement in a story. And, even if your novel is on the serious side, there will be moments in it that you can lighten it up a bit of subtle humor.

7. The final tip is to "make them cry." Sims aptly notes that, "Lots of books make readers laugh and lots make readers cry, but when readers laugh and cry while reading the same book, they remember it."

The gatekeepers have keen eyes, looking for weaknesses in your manuscript. Use these seven tips to help get pass those gatekeepers.

7 Simple Ways to Make a Good Story Great

Original article source:


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Friday, June 6, 2014

Deep POV (Limited Third Person)

One of the first things to decide when writing your novel is who tells the story. The two most popular choices are third person and first person. We hear much about both, but a reminder is always in order.

In first person narration, one character tells the whole story. The reader views and understands everything through one person’s eyes. Note this method used by debut author, Ladonna Cole, in a fantasy YA, The Torn:


          “No, Greg, You did not create them, but you can

    control them. Tell them to go away.”

          He grimaced at me and his face cracked with

    grief. I knew he didn’t believe me, yet, I was

    determined to convince him.


Notice the use of the letter “I”, and the word, “we.” The protagonist, Kate, tells the story. Readers know nothing away from what she sees, feels, hears, experiences.


I tell the story in my debut YA novel, Victoria and the Ghost, in third person. Notice the difference from this quote:


          Victoria moved to a cluster of graves at the southern

     back fence and began her work. Squatting hurt her legs.

     When she plopped her hips on the hard ground and stretched

     the kinks from her legs, she heard rattling. Movement

     caught her peripheral vision.


Notice in that excerpt, there’s no “I” or “we.” Instead, it’s “Victoria” and “she” that tells the events.


Several years ago, an agent described my third person novel as being in omniscient point-of-view.” I didn’t understand the criticism until I recently read an article by Mark Canter in my copy of the RWR magazine (put out by Romance Writers of America).


Canter says third person can be told in two forms, limited and omniscient. He describes omniscient as the narrator being a “disembodied witness who hovers over the characters and their actions, telling the reader exactly what’s going on externally and also inside each character’s heads.” His definition of limited third person is picking one character at a time and experiencing the story as if the reader is that character.


Years ago, I took a course called Deep Point-of-View. The teacher used this phrase as a method to put the reader into the character’s skin, not just hearing about it from the character.


Two examples:


     Calvin watched the man lift a gun and point it with shaky fingers at Calvin. Fear swept over him. He halted wondering if he could overpower his enemy in time to live.


     Calvin’s heart bounced with each bob of the gun. He took one step, two …. Sweat trickled down his temple. Click. The next sound would be a bang, but by then, he would be dead. His legs froze.


Which example puts you better into the character’s skin?
That’s deep POV.


Try writing your own examples, both hearing it through the POV character and then living it with the POV character. Feel the difference. Write like you’re experiencing it in real time.


Two more examples to help you get started:


     Renee awoke and looked around her. A bright light was shining in her face. The wall was a stark white, but she saw colors moving around her bed. Her arm was restrained by an IV. She wondered if she was still in Hawaii.


     Renee awoke and squinted against the bright light. A kaleidoscope of colors swirled against a stark white wall. An IV restrained one arm.

     Was she still in Hawaii?

Both examples give the same information. The first gives the story through Renee’s eyes. In comparison, though the second one gives it through Renee’s point of view, too, the reader lives it with her.

Notice the differences:


Deep POV uses more active verbs, less passive.

Deep POV doesn’t use filtering words such as she saw or she looked.

Deep POV shows, doesn’t just tell.

Deep POV makes you feel it along with the character.
In Deep POV, the writing is tighter.


What about you?


Do you write omniscient third person or limited third person, better known as deep POV?


Other helpful sites on this topic are: