#authortoolboxbloghop, For Writers

Connecting With Your Readers Through Instagram – #authortoolboxbloghop

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My past two bloghop posts have been about different ways to connect with your readers. (If you missed them, you can check them out here and here. )

So this month, I wanted to share some tips on how to connect with readers on Instagram. (And again, I find Instagram is really effective for me as I write YA and there are a lot of YA readers who use Instagram. It might not be as effective for those who write in other genres.)

As with all social media platforms, you want to be commenting on and liking posts from your readers. In addition to that, you can use hashtags to connect with your readers. With Instagram, hashtags are key. Hashtags are how you find people with similar interests. There are several ways you can use hashtags to connect with your readers.

  1. Use several hashtags when you post. (Ten is considered the optimum number.) Some good hashtags for connecting with readers include: #bookstagram, #yabookstagram, #bookworm, #booknerd, #yalit (or whatever genre you write in), #bookdragon #toberead #currentlyreading
  2. Hashtag challenges – There are always plenty of monthly challenges you can participate in.  Each day of the month you are given a prompt which you use to stage your picture for that day. One example of the monthly challenge is #octlitwrit. There are also some challenges where you only post weekly.  My current favorite weekly challenge is #fantasyonfriday
  3. Daily hashtag themes – Similar to the challenges, you use a theme on a particular day like #mondaymotivation, #throwbackthursday or #fridayreads. There is no prompt, you just use the day’s theme to post something.
  4. Tagging games – In the tagging games, you take something like #spellmynameinbooks to complete and then tag several friends to do so as well.

Also, just a note on hashtags – Don’t use hashtags that don’t apply to the picture you’ve posted just to try to get more likes.

What about you? Do you have a favorite hashtag on Instagram? What’s your favorite thing about Instagram? Let me know in the comments. And you can connect with me on Instagram here.

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This post is part of the #authortoolboxbloghop. It’s hosted by Raimey Gallant. For more details and to join in the fun, go here.

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#authortoolboxbloghop, For Writers

NaNoWriMo Prep – #AuthorToolbox

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It’s almost NaNoWriMo time. For those who haven’t heard of it, NaNoWriMo stands for National Writing Month and it happens every November. Participants attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in one month’s time. It averages out to about 1,667 words per day. It’s a great motivator for writers! You can sign up to participate and find out more info here.

I’ll be participating in NaNoWriMo again this year (my fourth time), but this time I’ll be a rebel (someone who doesn’t start with a blank page to complete the 50,000 words). Here are a few things I’ve found that will help you reach the  win (50,000 words).

1. Commit to writing the words, then tell your friends and family. If you’re wishy-washy about it – like “I might have to try it” or “Maybe I’ll have time to do this” you won’t finish. The first time I attempted NaNo, this is how I was and I didn’t even get halfway there. The next year I made a solid commitment and I reached my goal. Part of committing is making sure family and friends know it, so they realize that sometimes you might not be able to go out when you still have words to type.

2. Decide on a specific time to write your words. This is different for different people -some like early mornings, others like late nights. For me, I write during the mid-morning. My “day job” is more of an afternoon/evening job, so mid-morning between 10 and noon works best for me. You just need to find the time that works best for you.

3. Celebrate the little wins. The NaNo site has badges you win for each word count goal( 5000, 10,000, 20,000 and so on) which I love. Every time I earn a new one, it gives me another burst of energy to write more! One of my writer friends on Instagram had a great idea. She made a list of little rewards for herself once she reaches each one of her word count goals. It’s such a cool idea, I’m going to try it this year. 🙂

4. Keep a name list of your characters. This is the best way to keep track of all those minor characters. I sometimes got into a tangle when I couldn’t remember a specific characters name – “I think it was Jack, or was it Jake?” Now I keep a list as I add characters so I don’t have to go back  through my manuscript to check the name.

5. Don’t try to edit as you’re writing. If you keep going back and rereading what you’ve already written, you’re defeating the purpose of NaNo. You just want to get the story out, and that’s what the first draft is for. Yes, it will be a mess, but worry about fixing it later on, after NaNo is over. I didn’t have a problem with this too much, unless I tried to go back and read what I’d written the day before. Only read enough to remember where you are in the plot of your story.

6. Try to get ahead of your word count in the first week. This is helpful for two reasons. One, you have more energy in the beginning, and second, it gives you a padding for those days you just can’t quite make the word count. This was so helpful for me. The first time I won Nano, I’m convinced this is why. I had gotten well ahead of my word count in the first week, and it compensated for times when I wasn’t able to make the day’s word count.

7. Write some every day, even if it is just a little. Even if you can’t get in all your words, steal whatever time you can to write a little. A hundred words is better than zero. Some days I just didn’t have the time to get the full word count, but even if I got a few in, I felt that I had still accomplished something. It helped to keep me from losing momentum. And if you do skip a day, don’t skip more than one in a row. This is a sure way of losing momentum, as I discovered the first year I tried Nano.

These are some things that have really helped me with NaNo. To some extent, I think you have to find what works for you. If you are doing NaNoWriMo, a great resource to check out is the book No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty. You can find it on Goodreads here.  It’s basically a guide for completing NaNo. Chris Baty is the creator of NaNoWriMo, and there is a little introduction in the beginning of the book about how NaNo started, which I thought was really interesting.

Are you participating in NaNo this November? If you are, add me as a buddy. My username is charebear23. 🙂 What helps you reach the win? Let me know in the comments!

This post is part of the author toolbox blog hop hosted by Raimey Gallant. Find out more about it here.

#authortoolboxbloghop, For Writers

#AuthorToolboxBloghop: The Foundation For Writing is Reading

 

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Everyone knows writers write, but not everyone realizes how much reading a writer must do. Reading is one of the most important things a writer does. A writer who doesn’t read is like a doctor who performs surgery without ever having been trained to do so.

If you want to be a writer, you MUST do two things above all others-READ a lot and WRITE a lot.-Stephen King

Reading is what educates you to become a writer. Reading helps you hone your craft, allows you to see what does and what doesn’t work in a book, and empowers your vocabulary.

Honing Your Craft – When it comes to honing your craft, you’ll want to read some craft books. There are so many to choose from, sometimes it can seem overwhelming to know which one you should use. You can narrow down which books you might need by knowing how you write best. Plotters will want a good book on outlining, and every writer will need books that give tips on editing and revising. You might also find a book about writing for your genre helpful. Here a few of my favorite craft books with links to them on Goodreads:

  1. Story Genius by Lisa Cron  : This book is great for both pantsers and planners. It helps you dig deep and determine what your characters really want. I highly recommend this for any writer.
  2. The Writer’s Digest Writing Clinic by Kelly Nickell: I love this book, because it helps with productivity. It breaks everything down into pieces, and gives tips for making each piece stronger, then gives you exercises for practicing those tips.
  3. Revision and Self Editing by James Scott Bell: This book has some wonderful tips to help you revise your first or second draft.
  4. Writing Great Books For Young Adults by Regina Brooks: This is ideal for those writing Young Adult. It gives a lot of genre specific tips as well plenty of general ones.
  5. Create Your Writer Platform by Chuck Sambuchino: Another thing writers have to think about is social media and everything that comes with it.  This book explains how to create an author platform, and how to best use social media.

 

Knowing What Works – When it comes to knowing what works and what doesn’t, you need to read books in your genre. Look for titles on the bestseller’s list, especially those that are there for several weeks. These are the books that are working for their genre. Look at reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. What do the readers in your genre like? What do they not like?  Some things work in certain genres that don’t work as well in others. In YA, writers often use first person. They use fragments to convey what the main character is thinking. They are typically fast paced and don’t include pages of description.  These things might not work as well for other genres like romance or literary fiction.

Empowering Your Vocabulary – Everything you read will help you with this, but you have to read a lot! The more you read the more words you encounter thus strengthening your vocab. Playing word games is another great way to get in some vocabulary practice. I love Scrabble and even have an app for it on my phone, but there are plenty of other word games you can play. There are so many word game apps, just try putting in word games and see what comes up. Anytime you have to wait, you can kill time by playing a word game.

If you struggle with fitting in reading time, try making a list. I make a TBR(to-be-read) list for each month. I include mostly genre-specific books, but every so often I add another genre in and I always try to include one craft book on the list. Sometimes I don’t read everything on my list, and sometimes I switch out one book for another, but the important thing is that I have a goal to work toward.

What are some of your favorite craft books? What do you do to make time for reading? Do you have a favorite word game? Let me know in the comments!

I’ve been wanting to start a section on my blog for writing tips, and then I found this: the author toolbox blog hop. It’s a great way to connect with other writers and share tips. It is hosted by Raimey Gallant and more information can be found here.