Category Archives: Blogging

Guest Post from Author M. S. Fowle


WordPress has allowed me to meet wonderful people. One example is author M. S. Fowle. She not only is a prolific author, but also is proficient in technical skills. 

 Today she has agreed to show us how to add a Twitter Feed to our blogs. Thank you for guest posting here today!

Blogging Tip: Twitter Power!

Let’s face it – just because we’re blogging, it doesn’t mean we always know what we’re doing. A lot of us just learn as we go. But I’m here to tell all you “not-so internet savvy” folks that it’s not as difficult as it looks.

Today, let’s talk Twitter. If you’re on Twitter and you’re blogging, the two should be playing off each other. When you blog, you tweet about it. But you should also make it easier for your blog readers to find you on Twitter. So I’ve provided two helpful visual aids to walk you through it.

The first image will explain how to add a Twitter feed to your blog, by far the easiest way to go about intertwining the two social media worlds.

(Click on the image to enlarge it.)

Melchelle designs TwitterFeedTutorial_msfowle_2013

The next tutorial will explain how to add clickable links to the sidebar of your blog. Now, to some, this one can seem a bit intimidating. But I will gladly explain a few things in a moment…

(Click on the image to enlarge it.)

Melchelle designs TextWidgetTutorial_msfowle_2013

I know, I know – you’re looking at that last step, shaking your fist in the air and cursing my name. Please, just simmer down and listen. Have a look at the text below:

<p><a href=”###”>XXX</a></p>

Simply copy and paste that into your “Text Widget” as it is. THEN, open a new window or tab to your social media profile, Twitter for example.

Click and hold to select the link, aka website address, to your profile

Right-click and ‘copy’ your link

Now, select the ### (NOT the quotations) from the text I provided above

Right-click and ‘paste’ in your link

Next, click and hold to select the XXX

Type in Twitter, or Follow Me on Twitter, or whatever you want it to say

Click ‘Save’

DONE!

You can do this again and again, right in the same widget with multiple links, such as Facebook, Linkdin, Goodreads, etc. Wherever you want your readers to find you, you can now give them the ability to do so in one easy click.

So, get to it! Nothing can stop you now! 😉

 To learn more about our Guest Author M. S. Fowle, please visit the links below.

Blog – http://msfowle.wordpress.com/

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/msfowle

Twitter – https://twitter.com/ms_fowle

Visit My Virtual World


Visit My Virtual World.

This intrigues and scares me at the same time. Scares–because it is new and unfamiliar. Intrigues–because it is new and unfamiliar.

Since I am still in my writing hideaway, I am not prepared to join the virtual world just yet. But I’d like to learn more about it.

 

Guest Post From Lauren Carr–Never Say “Please Don’t”


Never Say PleaseDon’t: Three Books in Twelve Months

By Lauren Carr

A couple of weeks ago, Fay’s post, Three Books in Twelve Months, made me laugh and blush, both at the same time. The laughter came not so much because she mentioned my accomplishment of writing and publishing three books in the span of twelve months (Shades of Murder, Dead on Ice, Blast from the Past, not to mention Beauty to Die For & Other Mystery Shorts ,an anthology), but from embarrassment.

Ironically, less than two years ago, I wrote a blog post pleading with independent authors not to strive to release multiple books a year.

In that article, I had explained that the wonderful breakthrough for writers to easily and inexpensively publish their books has become a double-edge sword: No longer are we dependent on the gatekeepers in New York to make our books available to readers.

The other edge of the sword is that since anybody can slap together a book and publish it, the market has been hit with an avalanche of bad books. I define “bad books” as unedited books filled with typos, misspellings, and grammatical errors, poorly formatted (either ebook or print), and/or unprofessional cover design.

My post went on to explain the math: At the time of this article I was writing and publishing one, maybe two, books a year. I go through several drafts:

  1. Reviewed by a fellow author for flow of storyline and loose ends after no less than three rough drafts.
  2. Rewrite after said review.
  3. Edited by professional editor.
  4. Proofread
  5. Layout & formatting
  6. Proofread
  7. Corrections based on proofread
  8. Release

Let’s say I release two books in a year. In that same year, another author whips out five books without any review by someone who would give him honest feedback, nothing more than the benefit of his MS Word spell-checker as far as editing, and a cover slapped together by a twelve-year old neighbor.

Math: That is five bad books to two good ones. Let’s go further and multiply it by ten. Out of a total of seventy self-published books, we have fifty poorly done to twenty well done.

The result: Quote from one reviewer: “Looking for a good self-published book is like looking for a needle in a haystack.”

I had written that blog post in response to recently releasing one of my books and discovering that some bloggers who had previously reviewed self-published books had only recently shut their doors to independent authors. One reviewer told me that the problem of new authors whipping out books without any review or editing had gotten worse in the last few years. Another blogger, who does accept self-published books, compared it to mining for a gem in a pile of rocks. It’s exciting to find a good book because there are so many bad ones.

As an author and publisher on a mission to change the perception of self-published authors as second-rate, I am horrified by this development. The marketplace has been hit with an avalanche of bad self-published books. As quickly as doors to publishing are being opened, doors to promoting us are being closed and it is the fault of some of our own members.

The message in my blog post: When one writer cuts corners in quality in order to rush to publish his book, he doesn’t hurt just himself, he hurts all self-published authors.

Yes, I released three books and an anthology in twelve months last year. I am at a new high in my career as an author. The reviews and sales on my books have been stupendous. I am thrilled every day to check my sales and author ranking on Amazon, where I am regularly listed in the top one-hundred of police procedural & cozy mysteries.

My previous post was not to tell authors to refrain from striving for the same goal, which is how some authors took it; nor am I being judgmental by saying that there are a lot of bad self-published books out there. That assessment is from reviewers and bloggers, not me.

Multi-book years can be done—but I do beg other self-published authors to please, for the sake of all independent authors, do it right. Here are some pointers to keep in mind:

Get an editorial review done. This is extremely important. An editorial review provides feedback on your storyline, plot, and those elements that reviewers and readers are most likely to comment on: One-dimensional characters, loose ends in your plot, lack of research, bad ending.

Have this done by someone who knows the genre, reads books, and is not afraid to hurt your feelings. Don’t take your book to your grandmother who would never hurt your feelings. These reviewers are called perfect readers. Most published and successful authors have them. My publishing company Acorn Book Services provides editorial reviews for a fee, but if you know someone who meets this criterion, maybe someone in your writers’ group, then you can have it done for free. Author Cindy McDonald is my perfect reader.

Get a good editor. Getting a good editor is like looking for a good hair stylist. They are hard to find and when you find one that you can work with, don’t let them go. Every editor is different. Some are light editors who don’t make a lot of changes. Others are heavy-handed and make a ton of changes.

Proofread, proofread, and proofread!  For all the work that you put into your masterpiece, nothing can ruin the whole project more than typos that you would have caught if you had simply proofed it. It looks sloppy. You cannot proofread enough. (As a publisher, I say you can. There does come a point where I have to tell every author, “Let it go!”) As a self-published writer, I implore you, proof your book at every stage. Proof it in hardcopy at least twice. Proof it after it has been formatted. Stuff happens during formatting. If your book is in print, sit down with a pen, put yourself in the mind of the reader, and read through it.

Proofing Tip: If you have a friend who is willing, ask them to proof your book in the final stage. At this point, you will have seen and read through it so many times that you will be unable to see mistakes. A fresh pair of eyes at this point will prove invaluable.

Have a professional looking cover. Like typos, a cheesy cover can repel readers. If you cannot afford to hire a real graphic artist, then at least study tips on the Internet for what makes a professional looking cover. There are dozens of sites that offer these tips and they cost you nothing. Go to Amazon and study the covers of the top-selling books in your genre.

You may be asking, how is it possible for me to release so many books when I put so much into them, and do it well, in a course of twelve months?

As you can see on my list of tips, at many points, my book is off in someone else’s hands. While Cindy is reading one of my books for an editorial review, I’ll be working on the first draft of my next book. After a re-write of the first book, I’ll send it off to the editor. While that book is gone, I’m working on the second book. I am always working on a book but it is not always the same book.

Yep, it takes a lot of work, by a lot of trusted professionals, to publish a lot of books. Also consider this. Ten years ago, none of this was possible.

Isn’t it great?

Fay’s Note: HEY, LAUREN– YOU FORGOT “A GNARLY CHRISTMAS.” IT’S BEEN A GREAT YEAR! Keep up the good work.

Blogging for Business On-Line Class Starts this Coming Monday


For details, go here. It doesn’t matter where you live, you can take this course on-line!

http://www.writingthevision.com/blogging-online.htm

Good Twitter Stuff for New Tweeters


Rarasaur turned me on to this post by braithanlithe.wordpress.com. It shares the author’s personal trials and triumphs in the Twitter world. It’s a good Twitter tutorial for new Tweeters. (Sorry. I just couldn’t resist the alliteration, for according to T, I am a writer.)

Here’s the link: And dipping a toe in Twitter. I’ve pasted a large excerpt below to give you the meat of it. Braitanlithe gives helpful guidance–and the “why” behind it. I skimmed her post, thinking I’d pick up a kernel or two, then decided to re-post it here because there is a feast: it’s too much for my feeble mind to hold onto in one reading. I want to read and re-read it.

Rarasaur, as always, I love you for your helpful ways. XOXO.

Just the other day, Rarasaur posted about how she was planning to use her Twitter account (you can find out at her blog or on Twitter @rarasaur).  I got interested in the discussion as lots of folk were saying the exact same things as I had, before I tried it.  Stuff along the lines of ‘hmm, I can’t say anything in less than 140 characters’ or ‘I can’t/don’t want to be constantly online looking at a Twitter stream’, or ‘I just don’t get the point of it’.  I posted a comment summarising my thoughts after trying Twitter out for a couple of months and Rara (bless her, much smarter than me!) suggested it could be the basis of a blog post that might be helpful for others who are contemplating whether they want to use Twitter or not.  So here it is.

I completely agree with the brevity thing. I’m pretty long-winded, and it’s a whole art form in itself, learning to say a lot in a few words.  You could think of it like haiku…

Another option is you don’t have to say anything at all.  There is no obligation to send a certain amount of Tweets, or indeed any.  My ‘real-life-non-virtual’ friend who persuaded me to try Twitter doesn’t write Tweets.  She just follows news and other organisations and people she is interested in.

After two months using it, I am still ambivalent about Twitter, but then that’s true of blogging too – if I pause to think, I am freaked out at the idea anyone, anywhere, could read what I write.  I feel vulnerable about that and, as I said in the last post, I also felt vulnerable about starting out in Twitter knowing nobody who would want to ‘follow’ or chat to me.  I moved schools a few times as a young child, and it brought back all those feelings of standing on the edge of the classroom or playground thinking ‘will anyone talk to me?  will anyone like me?’  Ugh.  I still hate going to actual parties, unless I know lots of the people there.

But even though I felt like that, and I’m still ambivalent, I say:  give Twitter a try.  It has benefits, and if you don’t like it – you can just stop.

If you’re thinking about using Twitter, a really helpful guide is ‘Tweet Right’ by author Nicola Morgan.  She has a website and blog at http://www.nicolamorgan.com.  ‘Tweet Right’ and her other e-books such as ‘Write to be Published’ developed out of her earlier website, http://helpineedapublisher.blogspot.co.uk/.  If you don’t have an e-book reader, or you want to get a flavour of her writing voice, all the archived posts are still there.

‘Tweet Right’ contains lots of useful information and tips, including etiquette.  Here, I’m only going to flag up one important thing that Morgan rightly emphasises is vital: remember to use your normal social skills.

If a friend invited you to dinner at her house with a group of her other friends you hadn’t met before, you wouldn’t walk in yelling ‘Read my blog post about diamonds and zen!’  Or at least I hope not. You’d get chatting, show interest in people, listen – then perhaps later in the evening when someone asked you how you spent your time, you might say ‘I work in a diamond mine / I’m a monk / I write …’ and if they were interested, you’d tell them about your blog/book.  I think Nicola Morgan and others refer to it as the 80/20 rule – i.e. at least 80% of your tweets should not be self-promotion or product selling.  Ideally, I think almost none of them should be self-promotion.  But then, I’m Scottish.

Having hung out in Twitter for just two months, I have already ‘unfollowed’ an author who did nothing but Tweet several times a day about her own books and where you could buy them. Whereas, to take another author example, Joanne Harris (Chocolat, blueeyedboy, etc.) rarely does that – she tells you things she’s up to, Tweets stories in instalments, and sets little fun writing challenges that she wants you to contribute to.

Once you’ve set up the Publicize function in WordPress to link your blog to Twitter (and, if you wish, to other social media sites like Facebook), my tip would be not to let it send automatic Tweets.

When you are in the Dashboard, writing a post, there is a box at the right titled ‘Publish’, with the buttons ‘save draft’, ‘preview’, etc.  It also has:

Publicize: Twitter: @CatCattanach  Edit Settings

Well, obviously that’s my own one – you won’t be publicising your posts on my Twitter!  But the crucial thing is that ‘Edit’ button.  If you don’t click that and put your own words in, all that anyone who follows you on Twitter will see is the title of your blog post and a clickable link which always begins ‘wp.me’  So if I forget to click my Edit button and change that, this post would simply be publicised as a Tweet that said ‘And dipping a toe in Twitter wp.me,blahblah’.

I have noticed that when I am looking down my Twitter home page, I am more inclined to read and be interested in things that are a little more detailed and personal.  So, when I’m ready to publish this post, I’ll click Edit and change it a little – perhaps something as simple as ‘I just wrote a post about how I’m getting on as a Twitter newbie.  Thanks for the suggestion, @rarasaur!’

I don’t have a smartphone, the time, or the inclination to be looking at my Twitter feed constantly or even often.  I just vowed to myself I would have Twitter on for at least half an hour a day while checking my email or blog, and dip into it to read bits, and send at least one Tweet a day myself. Most of those Tweets are just replies to someone.  You can show Tweets and your Twitter link on the sidebar of your Home page by going into the WordPress Dashboard, then Appearance, then Widgets.  I think the options vary with different themes – mine lets me show a minimum of my three most recent Tweets (I’d prefer it to show just one, which some themes seem to allow).

It does feel hard to get started if you don’t know anyone who uses Twitter, but I’m glad I did. I’m working at home in a remote rural area – and there are lots of writers on Twitter, so it’s a bit like having a wee chat in the corridor if you work in an office. Sure, it might just be trivia, but trivia can take you some unexpected places, and it can be nice making a little connection with someone you’d never bump into in the normal course of things.  Even famous folk with eleventy-million followers are human beings who sometimes enjoy interacting with other human beings.

Twitter can also bring new people to your blog – for example, a sighthound rescue organisation, that I had been following since I joined up, Retweeted the link for my greyhound post to all their Facebook followers, and I got more readers in a day than I ever had before.

It’s definitely a good way of news-gathering.  You can ‘follow’ newspapers and magazines and you will get Tweet summaries of things in the headlines.  If you want to know more, you can click on the link in the Tweet to go straight to the relevant article.

My final benefit is that Twitter can sometimes fling a bit of unexpected, heartwarming positivity into your day. For example:

Joanne Harris was having a daily advent calendar writing event.  On the 17th of December, it was:

‘Door 17: The best Christmas present you ever had, rescued from the archives of time and tied with a scarlet ribbon’

I replied with:

‘Age 8 – stilts AND striped socks with separate toes. Magic legs & the giddy feeling of being taller than Daddy’

Joanne Harris liked it enough to Retweet it to all her 9,000 followers. Which was enough in itself to make me smile. Then not long after that, I got a Tweet from someone I’d never met, saying it had inspired her to buy stilts for her 8 year old daughter’s Christmas. Which completely made my day – although I was a bit nervous her daughter might either think they were boring, or fall off them and end up in Casualty on Boxing Day! However, all’s well that ends well – I heard yesterday that they were ‘the best present ever’ and the little girl can go forwards and backwards on them already, though she hasn’t tried stairs yet. Thankfully.

That’s the kind of thing that can really put on a smile on your face when you are sitting alone on a chilly, wet January day, slogging through to the end of an interminable first draft. So, I’ll be keeping up my Twitter account for the forseeable future.

If I Tweet


If I compose a tweet on Twitter, who sees it?

And how does one garner followers anyway?

I am begging you experienced Tweeters to write a guest post here on the topic Twitter for Dummies. Go to my profile for my e-mail address. Let’s talk, er, tweet.

Now On Twitter


OMG! As usual I am a decade behind everyone else in using new technology. Writers are supposed to be clever folks, light years ahead of everyone else, right? Sadly, I don’t fit the mold.

At last, I am actually using Twitter. . .from time to time. . .when I remember. . .at least I opened an account and tied it to this blog.

Find me and follow @MooreFay. We’re only a tweet away. . .when I figure out how to use the #$@%$ thing.