Twitter for Writers—Eight Ways to Nuke Your Brand

Kristen’s no lamb when it comes to hard truths. Do you tweet or are you a twit?

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commins via Per Gosche Image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commins via Per Gosche

I’ve been an advocate of writers using social media since 2004, before social media was really a thang. In the early days of Gather and MySpace it occurred to me that we were seeing a fundamental shift in how humans would 1) be communicating 2) forging relationships and 3) finding/discovering entertainment.

Digital Age Writers? You have…no…idea.

Back in my day *wags cane* we were fighting the Russians and there were NUKES pointed at us for twenty years. We had to get our moms to drive us to a library to research for a paper using the Dewey decimal system. There was no Google. 

If you wanted a popular book and didn’t save enough babysitting money to preorder the next David Eddings book in the Pawn of Prophecy series? In hardback? You waited.

Your turn. Like behind fifty other people.

View original post 1,825 more words

Getting past Writer’s Block ~ The 500 Word Daily Challenge

500 word Challenge

If you haven’t heard by now that November is National Novel Writing Month, you must live in a cave. It’s all that any writer or want-to-be-writer talks, blogs, tweets, or Facebooks about during November.

I may be jumping on a soapbox here, it’s not a bad thing. But it leaves some, (NOT ALL), writers feeling frustrated or possibly like a failure. Why, if you can’t write a novel during the magical NaNoWriMo event, how can you EVER write a novel. You have all the hype, influence and encouragement, but what? What keeps you from succeeding?

Pressure can be a good or bad thing. If you work well under pressure, Great. If not, BAD.

For years I would work, work, work, get hyped up, super excited, “THIS WILL BE THE ONE!” Only to get to the hard part of writing chapter #3. I didn’t know what else to say. I had researched the devil of my subject, created character sheets, a three-ring binder full of stuff to support my story, then nothing. Dead Silence.

Had I started this simple process years ago, back in 2009 when my first real novel idea was birthed, that consequently I pitched to a well-known publisher at a conference that said with such enthusiasm, “I would love to see that. Here’s my email address, send it to me.”

Well, I would have an author page on Amazon by now. But here I am again.

So, with the help of my writing buddy, the brilliant Natalie Cone, we began a new system. At her suggestion, we decided to conquer that ever revolving door of writing a novel/not writing a novel. Since NaNoWriMo doesn’t quiet work for us, we’ve come up with a plan. We call it the 500 Challenge. 

Our plan is simple. Write 500 words a day. They can be good words or bad words as long as they are somehow related to the stories we are working on. Each evening and morning we check in after emailing each other what progress was actually accomplished. I’ve created a spreadsheet both in my google drive and on my desk top. It includes the date, word count, and project I’m working on. I log in my words each day and it feels really good to see it in black and white.

Now… I can see some progress. I finally made it past chapter #3. We have some days that the word count doesn’t make the mark. But because we have to report to each other, we don’t let the “no words” stop us from being productive. Creating character, story or chapter outlines, timelines, gathering research all counts, but we only allow one day out of the week to take a break from actually writing.

Sure at 500 words a day if you were to write a 50,000 to 75,000 word novel it would take you anywhere from 100 to 150 days, (or roughly 5 months) to write a novel. But here is the difference, we both are averaging around 1500 words a day. Why? I’m not sure other than once you have 500 words, a flow begins.

Like a trickle from a stream that turns into a river.

For me, this has been such a huge impact toward doing what I’ve wanted to for a long time.  Instead of talking about what I want to write, I’m writing.

I’ve created several folders within my google drive that helps. For example, my first document was for research only. I had an idea, then an idea of where I wanted my story to take place, who I wanted my main character to be, what I thought the antagonist would be which slowly evolved. The idea began as remembrance of my little dog, Tina, who wandered away from my mother’s home the month we were making our 23rd move. It has turned into a story of murder, abandonment, loss, betrayal.

Tina has taken on the image of a 10 year old girl vanishing from a Halloween party one stormy southern night.

I began a internet search and everything that seems to tie in with any of those ideas, I pasted the links onto my document.

Next I created subjects: Main Character, Killer, Quotes, Comparables (books or movies that sounded like the story I was writing), Setting, Time.. and so on.

Research for me is fun and if I’m not careful, I can spend a lot of time doing this. To solve this problem, I started setting the timer on my phone. I give myself 30 minutes to research a subject. After that I work on my outlines for another 45 minutes. Next I take a break, do 10 – 20 squats to get the blood flowing to the brain, which by then looks a little like a 90 year old hamster on a broken down wheel. I grab a snack, do a bit of housework, then onto my 500 words. I don’t set a timer for this but allow the flow to go as long as I can.

Some days the chapter follows my outline loosely, other days there’s a million rabbit trails attached. I’ve committed to 500 words and give myself permission to make a train wreck out of a chapter as long as I have 500.

Anne Lamott in her book, Bird by Bird: Some Instruction on Writing and Life, gave me so much freedom with her description of a first draft: “E.L.Doctorow once said that,’Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.’ You don’t have to know where you’re going, you don’t have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you.”

She also taught me that your first draft can be awful and it should be. It’s just a draft. Not a finished product. Natalie and I see 500 words at a time and they seem to be getting us where we want to go.

Don’t freak out if you don’t do outlines. There’s all kind of ways to write your novel. My friend, Natalie, is a pantser. For what it’s worth, I’m not a fully committed outliner. Recently I downloaded Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method for Writers. I’ve found my soulmate!

Just getting 500 words in whatever way works for you is the point. Here are several writing blogs I follow that have helped me to structure my story: Molly Green’s Blog, How a Pantser Outlines; The Kill Zone, #1 Rule of First Drafts; Jane Friedman, How to Plot a Story, and Writer Unboxed, Four Questions to Ask When Your Writing is Stuck.

What motivates you? Have you tried the NaNoWriMo? Did it work for you? Are you frustrated and want to try something else? Have you given the 500 Challenge a go? Did you have success?

5 Reasons Why You Should Work from Home

work from home 2.png

My husband and I have been working from home for years now. We have started several different types of businesses and have learned from each.

Maybe you are considering working from home but you don’t know where to start. First, you need to consider your reasons.

As a couple, we made the decision for me to stay at home while our children were young. But we needed an extra income source to make it work. That was two decades ago when the options to work from home were pretty slim. I decided to babysit for several friends. My children had someone to play with and the pay was exactly what we needed. Our reasons were important in making those decisions.

Now, there are many opportunities, especially with the technology that is available, which wasn’t back then. Today my small business of providing content and marketing is ever growing and I enjoy what I do. Another important reason of why I work from home.

If you find yourself considering the same options, ask yourself why. Here are a few reasons that can help you make a sound decision that’s best for your lifestyle.

5 reasons to work from home.

  1. Flexibility ~ Most of the time, you are in control of your work schedule, what days to take off and what times to work.
  2. Savings ~ Commuting to a desk top computer when you have all you need at home can add up. Costs include: transportation, clothes, daycare, lunch expenses, beauty items, desk fees, after hours care, pet care, dry cleaning and laundry services, and housekeeping.
  3. Productivity ~ While some may need the eyes of a supervisor keeping them busy, those who are self-disciplined and motivated can get as much as three times the amount of work done at home that they couldn’t get done at the office. Why? Meetings, talking with co-workers, taking time for lunch.
  4. Health ~ Many that work from home also have better health. They exercise regularly, catch less viruses or colds passed around at the office, and eat healthier.
  5. Creativity ~ Where comfort exists so does creativity, the more relaxed your mind and body are the more you can focus.
Do you work from home? I would like to hear about what you do and what you enjoy most about it.

Which Personality Type Works Best At Home, Introverts or Extroverts?

Personalities that work best at Home

Whether you are an introvert or extrovert, working at home can challenge both types of personalities. How can you know if your personality is suited for a home based business?

While extroverts need others to bounce ideas off to gain energy, introverts need time alone to concentrate. Both of these can be challenging.

If you’re an extrovert, scheduling outside meetings can give you time to discuss plans, products, or concepts. Introverts will have to set boundaries for working around family to find those quiet hours.

Both sets of personalities will have to maintain:

  1. Discipline ~ A planned schedule, a routine, goal setting.

  2. Organization ~ Having a place for everything makes life in general easier, a work station or office dedicated to work only.

  3. Flexibility ~ This isn’t the opposite of discipline, it is an attribute. Remember, this is one of the reasons you work from home.

  4. Balance ~ You have to know when to take on jobs and when to say no.

  5. Motivation ~ Can you multitask? Are you good at creating a daily job task sheet and following through?

Being able to communicate verbally and in written form are also important. Where extroverts will want to make a call or meet someone in person, an introvert will rather send an email or chat online.

Working from home can be beneficial to both extroverts and introverts who don’t focus on their weaknesses but learn how to wisely invest their strengths into their business.

How outsourcing can work for you.

Profile picture trussville fall

After 20 moves, I thought I had seen everything. I also thought I knew all you could possibly know about relocating: selling your home, buying a new home, researching areas and schools, packing and unpacking. Then move 23 came along.

It was the first time my family and I had assistance from every angle. My husband’s new company provided us with a relocation package loaded with all the extras. An agent to sell our home, coordinators to coordinate, an agent to help us buy our new home, packers and movers. All I had to do was point and sign… so they said.

That moved turned out to be the most challenging. But it shouldn’t have, it should have been easy. When someone’s dangling from your ceiling through your chandelier, you begin to question the process. When both the home sale and purchase begin to go south, you panic.

The same can happen with your business. You can have so many things going on at one time that you can’t just point or sign. You have to become active. You also realize that you no longer need a rental van for your one bedroom apartment but two semi trucks for your 3 story, 3 car garage home.

Progress is good but complicated. Part of owning a small business, which is growing, is finding areas that you can delegate or outsource. My husband always tells me, “You can’t be perfect at everything.” But I still try because I like things done right. That perfection monster comes out. Many successful entrepreneurs are the same and it took that attitude to get where they are. However, no one person can do everything. My husband is right. I know, I’ve tried.

Together, he and I have developed several small businesses. Some were extremely rewarding. Others were learning curves. Nothing’s ever wasted in our economy. Starting a business and managing it became the greatest educational experience I’ve ever had. I’ve taken the skills I’ve learned and developed my writing craft into a fulfilling career. Each article I’ve written, interview I’ve done, bio I’ve completed, I’ve felt that I walked away with a better understanding of someone. People are so interesting. Their gifts and abilities, their compassion and care, their drive to make a difference, is inspiring.

I know how important it is to have a productive business. If you should find yourself needing help, contact me. I enjoy working with people and helping them fulfill their dreams.

perdido pass kayak

When I’m not working, my husband and I take advantage of the coastal waters with our kayaks or you’ll find us enjoying the beachfront with our noses stuck in a book. Well, usually I’m the one with my nose in a book. We are avid beachcombers in search of washed up treasures and gorgeous sunsets.

Finding Your Writing Niche ~ Cindy M. Jones

Get Results airplane music notes
Finding your niche is important. As a writer, there’s so many avenues. But try explaining that to a non-writer. They believe that if you are a writer, every opportunity to write is a dream come true, right? Wrong.
It’s taken me a little over ten years of consistently working in the different fields of writing to gain confidence in doing what I like, while still bringing in a paycheck. I’ve learned to turn away jobs that I know will be frustrating and overwhelming and wait for those that fit my personality and skills. It’s hard passing up work, especially in a time and age where the publishing field can be up or down in any given day. But I believe I’ve found that enjoyment in what I now do and hopefully it will continue to be a productive and successful career.
 Making  others look good brings me a great deal of fulfillment. I find it challenging to take a person’s bio, ask them a few questions and look at it from a viewer’s or potential client’s perspective. Why would I want to work with this person? What makes them reliable, interesting, or unique? Too many authors and small business owners find it hard to promote themselves because they don’t want to brag. That’s where I come in. I want to tell their story in a way that will draw others in, where they want to contact them, read their books, use them as their real estate agent, check out their services or products. It is gratifying work to make others look good!
What types of writing are there? Magazines, web content, blog content, fiction, non-fiction… we could stay here all day. But I’ve got a better idea. I’ve included several helpful sites to get you started below. Let me know how it turns out.

How to Start a Blog for Fiction Writers

Stay Calm and Keep Sober
Starting a blog can be intimidating. If you are a writer you do have an edge. But if you are planning to be a fiction writer, why do you need to blog and what do you blog about?

 

Blogging is a great tool to build an audience or platform. Blogging is used successfully everyday in the corporate business world in conveying their products and services to likely clients or consumers.
You as a writer will eventually become your own business. You are in the business of selling your products… books. Hopefully you’ll sell lots of books. If you have never been published and are new on the scene, then you need to create a buzz. Blogging is one of the most inexpensive and productive means of getting your name out in the public arena.  It gives you an opportunity to showcase your skills, share valuable information, and connect with other like-minded individuals.
How to start.
You will need to decide what platform to use. I’ve used Blogger since it first came out. Three of my first blogs were stolen by spammy advertisers. Lots of work lost but I didn’t give up and thankfully learned the valuable lesson of baking up ALL my posts and I don’t use Ads. Don’t freak out about that right now, Blogger is one of the safest places for blogging now. Let’s talk about your options.
Blogger. Getting Started With Blogger Guide. Easy steps included in the link provided. Blogger is very easy to use for the most part. There are a few learning curves to making it look professional. But if I can do it, anyone can. Posting is easy. You can add pictures and links. I do schedule my posts. Blogger is part of the Google family and has a good SEO, (Search Engine Optimization Guide for Beginners), which means your blog has a better chance of being seen because it is in the Google search engine.
WordPress. Getting Started with WordPress.  I also use WordPress for another personal blog as well as managing several small business blogs. I’ll confess, it’s not my favorite. But there’s many things that WordPress can do and functions that are not available in Blogger. Like Blogger, you can schedule your posts, add pictures, links and make it look more professional with a bit more ease. But you may have to pay for what’s usually free with Blogger. I get a little impatient when I work on WordPress.
Tumblr. Getting Started with Tumblr. Tumblr is a blog on steroids to me. It’s like teen heaven. Flashy, filled with Gifs, Vines, Memes, and if you’re struggling with the verbiage, Tumblr may not be for you. It’s short and sweet, well actually what I’ve seen isn’t too sweet. I’ve created a couple of Tumblr blogs for business accounts and I am still trying to figure out how to maintain one.
There are several more to mention that I’ve not familiar with except forLinkedIn. Although I do not use the LinkedIn blog feature, I do have a professional profile there. See me at: Cindy M. Jones.
For other blog platforms, here is a list of 18 of the so called best blogging platforms. You may notice that Blogger isn’t mentioned. But I’ve been using it for about 10 years now. Here is a list of 10 free blog platforms.  If that hasn’t made your brain hurt, here is a comparison chart.
Now that you’ve decided what platform to use, several other decisions need to be made.
WHAT DO YOU WRITE ABOUT?!!!
As a future novelist, your name is your brand. Don’t agonized over some cute name and title. I’ve changed my subtitle a 100 times but always keep my name as the site name. Your content is how you connect with future readers. Treat them the way you want to be treated and your blog will be successful, just be yourself. Trying to be anyone else is exhausting and unproductive. Write about the things you enjoy.
Share your common interests. Add follow buttons and share buttons. Include a bio and links to anything previously published, if possible.
This is the fun part. As a fiction writer you have so many options. If you are an expert, (even if you don’t feel like one), in any area, now’s your chance to talk about it. Do you enjoy cooking, gardening, social media, photography, painting, kayaking, sewing, crafting, writing, reading, being a mom, the list goes on.
You are building connections with people who are interested in getting to know you.  The key to successful blogging is not making the blog all about you. Most of us run and take cover when confronted by a narcissist, so don’t make your blog self-absorbed. While you are sharing about yourself, provide helpful information to your readers. As in the books you write, it’s all about the take-away value. What valuable information, help, encouragement, are you giving your readers?
Here is some expert advice from a well established novelist, Anne R. Allen, one of my favorite blogs to follow, 14 Do’s and Don’ts for Author Bloggers and another important post, Does an Author Really Need a Blog? 10 Reasons a Blog May Help Your Career.
And you can always scrap what doesn’t work and start over. It may be painful but look at it like a college course for free.
I’m still here after several failed attempts. Don’t be intimidated, it’s not as hard as you think.

 

5 REASONS TO BLOG

5 Reason to Start a Blog

I’ve been blogging since the mid 2000’s when blogging was relatively new.  Most were online journals where you could follow someone’s process through a health or personal situation.  It was a dairy that everyone could participate in.
A good friend, who was also my Bible Study instructor, encouraged me to start one.  It was an extremely difficult season that I was going through and making it public scared me to death. It wasn’t till we participated in Beth Moore’s re-taping of Breaking Free in New Orleans that something changed.  I saw blogging as an opportunity to reach people who had gone through much of the same problems as I had.
It was the beginning of the writing career I have now.  An article I submitted to Lifeway’s Journal for Women was published a year later.  That opened up many more doors.  My blog started as an outlet for healing the inner wounds I had carried for so long.  It gave me the confidence to pursue writing for magazines and web content.
I’ve had several blogs before settling on the one I have now, and it is very possible that this will evolve as well.  A few of those included:
Chapters of Hope ~ Mainly a online dairy of childhood abuse and what I found that helped.
Writers Connection ~ Devoted to my love of writing and writers.
Bookends ~ I reviewed books that I received while attending writing conferences and those who contacted me that needed a little help in promotion.
There were a couple of others, some I did with a few friends.  If you read through the archives of this blog, you’ll see much of the same type of content.  I have a flow cart that I use for my weekly posts. Each is a different category, but all are things that I enjoy writing about or feel compelled to share.
Here’s a breakdown of my blogging schedule:
1st Thursday ~ Author interview or book review
2nd Thursday ~ Blogging or Writing 101
3rd Thursday ~ Health
4th Thursday ~ Family, Faith, Focus ~ My stories
5th Thursday ~ Moving On, relocating and travel
These are broken down into categories which you can view on the right hand side of my home page.
Starting a blog can be intimidating.  Some of the questions I had included:
  • What do I write about?
  • Will anyone read it?
  • What will I name it?
  • How do I promote it or get people to follow me?
  • Why am I doing this?
  • How do I make it look professional?
These are some of the very same things you will face.  I believe the most important question is: Why do you want to start a blog?
Here are my 5 Reasons to start a blog.
  • BLOGGING INCREASES WRITING SKILLS
  • BLOGGING BUILDS CONFIDENCE
  • BLOGGING PROVIDES FOCUS
  • BLOGGING DEVELOPS CONSISTENCY
  • BLOGGING CONNECTS LIKE-MINDED PEOPLE

5 REASONS TO BLOG.png

So… What are you waiting for?

Quotes ~ Lee Child

“The way to write a thriller is to ask a question at the beginning and answer it at the end.” Lee Child

Lee Child is the pen name of author Jim Grant, a British Thriller Writer, who to date has sold over 100 million books in 42 languages. His brand, Lee Child, is worth several billion dollars. He should know a thing or two about writing thrillers.

What haunts us about his stories? Will Jack succeed.

Real life stories leave us wanting to know more. Some questions are never answered and those are the mysteries we can’t forget.

Want to know more about Lee Child?

How do you write a story that haunts? According to Child, it has to have spark.