#authortoolboxbloghop

Choosing the Right Social Media Platform to Connect With Your Readers – #authortoolboxbloghop

Connecting With Your Readers#authortoolboxbloghop (2)

For last month’s bloghop, I posted about connecting with readers through your blog. If you missed it, you can read about it here. I want to share some tips about connecting with readers through social media, but first, I’d thought I’d share some tips on how to determine the best social media sites for you to use.

There are so many social media platforms out there, it’s hard to know which ones are best. There are some things you want to consider before choosing which ones you want to use.

1. First, find the sites your readers are always on. For me, I primarily use Instagram and Twitter. I’ve found a lot of YA readers on both.  Snapchat is another site YA readers hang out on, but your audience is limited to those you are already friends with, so I don’t use it much. Other options include Pinterest, Facebook, Google+, Tumblr, Wattpad, and Goodreads.

2. Choose only two or three sites to manage. If you try to use all the sites, you’re going to be eating up a lot of your time. You can be much more effective if you choose just a couple of sites to focus on. Twitter and Instagram are my main focus. I also have accounts with Facebook, Pinterest, and Google+, but I use them far less.

3. Set realistic goals for using your chosen sites. Now that you’ve determined the sites you’re going to use, it’s time to set goals. You want to have goals for posting, interacting with and gaining followers, and promoting your books. I’ll share more about these in my next couple of posts.

While it can seem challenging and confusing at first, using social media can really help you build relationships with your readers. I have found it to be rewarding and enjoyable, and I have made a lot of great friends.

How about you? Do you use social media to connect with readers? Which sites to do you use? What do you like best about social media?  Let me know in the comments!

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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

#authortoolboxbloghop – Connecting With Readers Through Your Blog

Connecting With Your Readers#authortoolboxbloghop

Connecting with your readers is not only important, it’s also a lot of fun. So, I’ve decided to do a little mini-series about connecting with readers for the next couple of #authortoolboxbloghop posts. Hope you enjoy! Also, I apologize for getting my post up late today, it’s been a busy week.

As a writer, connecting with your readers is essential. I’ve seen a lot of writers make a concentrated effort to connect with other writers (which is also important), but neglect making connections with readers.  With all the technology we have now, it’s easier than ever to connect with readers all around the world. Today, I’ll be focusing on making connections through blogging.

Here a few tips that have helped me:

Determine who you readers are. Before anything else, you have to know who you’re readers are. It might be tempting to say “everyone”, but while we all want “everyone” to read our books, your outreach will not be effective if your target readership is too broad.  I write YA, and specifically fantasy with a fairy-tale twist, so I know I want to connect with others who enjoy reading fantasy and fairy-tale retellings.

See what kind of blogs your readers follow. Once you’ve determined your ideal readers, then you need to find the kind of blogs they like to follow. A google search can help with this.  Type in your genre followed by  “book blog”.  I’ve discovered the YA community is great, and many of the readers are also avid bloggers. They enjoy book blogs with book reviews, reading challenges, and awesome giveaways.

Format your blog accordingly. After you’ve seen the kind of blogs your readers like, you can format yours similarly. Since I know my readers like book reviews, challenges and giveaways, I make sure to incorporate those things into my blog.

Interact with similar blogs. Not only do you want to research blogs to give you ideas what your readers like, but you also want to interact with these blogs. Comments and likes are key in making connections with others. I keep a list of my favorite YA blogs and set aside time each week to visit and comment on those blogs.

Participate in blog hops or challenges. This is taking it a step further than just commenting or liking. Many communities have a blog hop (similar to this one) or some kind of other challenge where participants search for said challenge (often by a hashtag on social media) to comment and like posts that are part of the challenge. I participate in “Top Ten Tuesday”, a challenge where the host gives a topic for each week and the participants list their top ten books on that topic. It’s a lot of fun to see who else might have listed the same books you did. You can check out my last Top Ten Tuesday post here.

These are just some of the things that have helped me make some great friends and find my readers via blogging. What are some ways you make connections with readers through your blog? Let me know in the comments!

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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.

#authortoolboxbloghop, For Writers

#AuthorToolboxBlogHop – Making Time for Writing

Making Time For Writing

I know sometimes making time for writing can be a struggle. Recently, it’s been a bit of a struggle for me. In the last couple of months, illness, my day job, and family responsibilities have crowded in, and I’ve hard to work harder to make time for my writing. So I thought for this bloghop, I’d share some of the techniques I use to fit my writing time in.

1. Schedule your writing time on your calendar. This is especially important if, like me, you can’t keep the same schedule for each day. Some days my writing time is early in the day, and sometimes it’s in the evening.

2. Set realistic time goals. Sometimes we have a habit of overloading our schedules, and this is true for our writing as well. Some days, writing time might have to be a bit shorter due to all the other responsibilities you have to fulfill that day. For instance, if you have doctor appointments during the day, your daughter’s ballet recital in the evening, and  all your normal responsibilities, you may have to make your writing time shorter. On other days, where you have extra free time, you can make your writing time longer. I find it usually balances out in the end.

3. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize. Ask yourself, “What things must get done today?” This helps you identify how much time you can set aside for writing. This also applies to your writing. What projects are the most important and need your attention now?

4. Be prepared for the unexpected. Sometimes unexpected things happen: illness, accidents, death in the family. While you can’t really plan for such an event, you can be prepared. First, in your mindset – when something like this happens, realize you might have to take a step back from your writing. This doesn’t mean you’re quitting, it just means there are some other things you have to deal with first.

Second, don’t lock yourself into a tight deadline. In other words, plan more than enough time to complete your projects. For instance, if you know a certain project typically takes you three weeks to complete, give yourself four. This way if something happens to knock off your regular writing time, you have a little time to take off.

5. Take time for yourself. Sometimes you might need to take some time to recharge yourself. I know some people hold to the “write every day” principle, but I find that after a grueling project it helps to take a little time off. This gives you time to reflect on what you want to do next, helps you prepare for the next project (i.e. brainstorming), and lets you focus on self care which allows you to be at your best for the next project. Journaling is a good way to still get some writing in during this time.

These techniques help keep me on track, and I hope you’ll find them helpful too. Also, keep in mind that everyone has bad days, and everyone fails at times. The important thing is to keep at it.

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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.

How about you? What techniques do you find most helpful in making time for your writing? Let me know in the comments!

#authortoolboxbloghop, For Writers

Editing, Editing, and More Editing – #authortoolboxbloghop

 

pink typewriter

In honor of March being National Novel Editing Month, I wanted to share some things I’ve learned about editing.  Editing is hard! But it can also be fun – seeing your novel turn into a polished manuscript that’s ready to be published.

When I first started editing, I didn’t know what I was doing, and that made it difficult for me. Rather than just jumping into the editing process, you need to have a plan. And to make a good plan, you need to understand the different kinds of editing.

There are four basic types of editing. (Sometimes people lump the first two together, going with three types, but I find it easier to work with four.)

1. Developmental Editing – This editing looks at your novel as a whole. Does everything make sense? Have you shared all the information the readers needs? Have you shared unnecessary things? Are things happening in the right order? Are there any plot holes? At this stage you’re not worrying about spelling and grammar – you’re just trying to be sure your story makes sense.

2. Content Editing – This is a more in depth version of the developmental edit. You’re looking at overall style and pacing, checking to be sure that you’ve sufficiently corrected any plot holes or any other content issues. Are you using the same tense throughout? Does the point of view stay the same, or only change when you intend it to? Is the story a cohesive manuscript?

3. Copy Editing – This stage of editing is when you start looking at grammar and spelling errors. Are there any awkward sentences that need to fixed? Is everything spelled correctly? Are you using the right words for what you want to say? Have you left out any words? Have you used a certain word too many times? Have you used too many adverbs? Have you used the passive voice too often?

4. Proofreading – In theory, this is the final edit – checking line by line to be sure there are no more errors. Sometimes this needs to be done a few times by a few different eyes.

Once you understand the types of edits, you can make your plan. Depending of whether you intend to self-publish, or publish through a traditional publishing house, your plan may vary slightly. Also, you have to understand how you work so you can determine how many rounds of edits you might need.

Stephen King suggests going through three rounds of edits before you ever show your manuscript to anyone, and I agree with him. You certainly want to do a developmental and a content edit before anyone looks at your manuscript, so you can be sure your novel is conveying what you want it to convey.

My editing plan goes as follows (I am still in the middle of this process, and am planning to self-publish my novels):

I typically do three or four rounds of development/content edits (usually two on the computer and two on paper), then send my manuscript to my beta readers. After they have finished with it, I take in all their notes, go through a final content round and a round or two of copy edits, and send it off to my editor.

After my editor has finished, I take in her notes and do two rounds of copy edits. Then I give the manuscript to some friends and family (who have an extensive knowledge of grammar/spelling rules ect.) for a proof. I take in their notes and make corrections, and then do another final proof on paper. So before my manuscript is finished, it typically goes through 10-15 edits, and sometimes more.

What about you? Do you have an editing plan you always follow? What’s your favorite part of the editing process? Let me know in the comments!

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This post is part of the #authortoolboxbloghop hosted by Raimey Gallant. To check out all the participating blogs, or to join in the fun go here.

My Stories

Once Upon A Time… (Part 3)

And here is the final installment in my fairy tale for Fairy Tale Day. If you missed the first two parts, you can find them here: Part 1 and Part 2.

Part 3

The next morning, Maria reached into the SATCHEL she had packed and pulled out the lovely new dress the medicine woman had given her. A deep purple with golden roses embroidered across the dress, it was finer than any anything Maria had ever owned.

“We can’t have our princess looking like a peasant,” the old woman had said.

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After she was dressed, Maria went out and found the medicine woman. Today they were going to find Edward’s real parents. They rode out to the very edge of the castle grounds where a tiny cottage stood up against the wall.

At first, Maria thought there was no way in, for all she could see where great GREEN bushes. But when they got a little closer, she could see a simple wooden DOOR. Once they reached the door, the medicine woman dismounted.

“Wait here,” she told Maria. She went and knocked on the door. It opened just a crack, and then the medicine woman disappeared behind it.

After what seemed like forever, the medicine woman came out. She smiled and nodded at Maria before climbing onto her horse.

As they headed back to the castle, Maria admired the beautiful LANDSCAPE, all green and bright, with the castle rising up from it like a shimmering jewel. She couldn’t believe she was the true heir to it all.

castle on hill

That night the king held a grand party. All the nobles of the land were there. The villagers gathered their instruments and entered the ballroom to play. They had only finished one song when Will stepped forward.

“And now we present to you the true heir, the Princess Maria!” Gasps and whispers filled the ballroom.

The medicine woman came forward and told what the king had done all those years ago. When she had finished, a CLOAKED FIGURE stepped out of the SHADOWS and pushed through the crowd. He stopped before the king.

“Is this true?” he asked.

The king tried to speak, but his throat closed up and he could only nod. The figure threw back his hood and everyone knew why the king couldn’t speak. The cloaked man was the great wizard Griffin. No one dared question him.

Griffin reached out his HAND to Maria. “Come, Princess. It is time to reclaim your throne.” Cheers filled the ballroom, and the party resumed.

The next day the king sent out a royal proclamation stating that Maria was his true heir and would be treated as such. The punishment for rising up against Princess Maria would be DEATH. Edward was reunited with his real parents, and the king was reprimanded for his lies. A council was formed to keep him in line. And Princess Maria had a life she’d never dreamed possible. Eventually she married Will, and they lived happily ever after.

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My Stories

Once Upon a Time… (Part 2)

This is the second part of my fairy tale for National Fairy Tale Day. If you missed the first part you can check it out here: here.

Part 2

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They went deep into the forest and Will instructed them to HIDE. After what seemed like hours, the sound of dragons and soldiers fighting faded. Will rounded everyone back up and they trudged on through the forest.

Soon joyful MUSIC drifted toward them. Will guided the travelers closer to the sound. They broke through the trees and entered the very village where Will had left the princess. The villagers were celebrating the discovery of the princess. They were pleased to see that the king’s spoiled son wasn’t the only choice to rule the kingdom.

Will found Maria in the medicine woman’s cottage packing a bag.

“What are you doing?” he asked her.

“I’ve spent long enough doing nothing. Now I have chance to do something, and I’m taking it,” she replied.

“What exactly are you going to do?” 

“I’m going to face my father and ask him why he abandoned me and my mother in a tower for all these years.” She brushed past Will and yanked open the cottage door.

Will grabbed her arm halting her exit. “While I love your ADVENTUROUS spirit, you can’t just go charging into the palace. It was chaos when we left. You’re going to have to have a plan, and some help.”

Maria stopped. She sighed and dropped her bag to the floor. “I suppose you’re right,” she said. She crossed her arms. “And I suppose you have such a plan?” she asked.

Will nodded and explained his plan.

The villagers helped the visitors gather all the musical instruments to be found. They crammed themselves and the instruments into the five wagons the little village owned. The few people who wouldn’t fit in the wagons rode horses and mules. It was nearly sunset by the time they reached the capital.

CAPTIVATED by the castle stretching up into the sky, Maria pulled her mount to a stop and stared. Will pulled her forward, not wanting to draw unwanted attention to their caravan. He didn’t stop until they reached the castle guards.

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“We’re here to play for the king. We’re the largest musical group in the land.” Will told the guards.

The biggest guard gave an EVIL laugh. “And you think you can just waltz in through the main entrance? Because you’re the ‘largest musical group in the land’?”

The rest of the guards roared with laughter. Maria clutched Will’s arm, afraid they wouldn’t even gain entrance to the palace.

“You’ve got to go the back entrance like the rest of the kings servants.” The guard jerked his thumb in the general direction of the back of the castle. The caravan started that way as the guard muttered, “Morons.”

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At the back entrance, a guard motioned them in. He directed them to a stable where they would spend the night. Once everyone had settled in, Maria turned to Will.

“So this is good, right? We’re in.”

“Yeah, it worked great. They certainly didn’t suspect a thing. It was almost like we were protected by an invisible MAGICAL SHIELD.”

Even though his words were convincing, his face wasn’t. He stared into the FLAMES as he stirred the fire.

“You’d better get some sleep, Maria. You have a big day tomorrow. I’ll keep watch out here.”

Maria didn’t want to leave him there, but what could she do? Sitting up all night wouldn’t prepare her for tomorrow, so she got up and went into the stable to sleep.

I apologize to those who were waiting to see this yesterday. I’ve been ill and was unable to post. Part 3 will go up tomorrow.

#authortoolboxbloghop, For Writers

“What’s In A Name?” – Naming Your Characters

name book

Great characters deserve great names, but how do you determine what that name should be? Some writers just write whatever name comes to them. They like the way it sounds, so it should work, right? Not necessarily. There are a few things to consider when naming your characters.

First off, you don’t want to have characters with names that sound the same or begin with the same letter. Your readers will inevitably mix them up. I’ve had it happen  to me. I’m reading along when I suddenly realize, “Wait- this isn’t that character, this is that other character. How long have I been mixed up?” I furiously flip back through pages I’ve already read, trying to determine where exactly I got confused. It’s not a good feeling, and you don’t want your readers to experience it.

Second, you want your characters’ names to match up with their personalities. For instance, if you are naming a scaredy-cat character who never faces his fear, you wouldn’t want to name him Eric, which means “powerful”.  A baby naming book is a great tool for finding names for your character.  In fact, sometimes it’s fun to peruse a naming book and write down names you like for use in a future story. I like The Name Book by Dorothy Astoria.

Third, you want your names to be consistent. (This pertains especially to fantasy and sci-fi.) By this, I mean you don’t want to have a lot of characters with exotic sounding names like Thordan, Boriel, and Cantor, and then have one character named Tom. When a reader comes to that name, they’ll be drawn out of the story just trying to figure out why his name is Tom. The exception to this rule would be if there actually is a specific reason for his name being Tom – like maybe he is from a different place than all your other characters.

Fourth, make sure names are believable and not too hard to pronounce. You want to be creative, but you don’t want to turn off readers. Try saying your chosen name out loud. Show the name to some friends and have them read it back to you. If it seems a little too made-up or hard to pronounce, it probably is. Also, if you can’t find the name in a baby book or a online name generator, you should probably nix it.

Fifth, minor characters might only be known by characteristic/appearance. Sometimes we have characters so minor they don’t need an actual name, but they do need something shorter than a full description for each time you refer to them. For instance, perhaps there is a mean boy tormenting your MC. He could simply be referred to as Meanie once you’ve introduced him as such.  Maybe there is an extremely pale girl who rides the same bus as your MC, but never actually talks to the MC. She could go by Ghost.

I recently read a book where the MC’s name was Seredipity.  Kind of a cool name, right? At least it was until the author gave the MC the nickname Pity. Yes, Pity!  Every time I read the name I couldn’t help but think, “What a horrible name! Are we suppose to pity her? Does she pity herself? Who would want to be called Pity?” I struggled to get through that book.

So you get the idea. You want to use creativity in naming characters, but you also want to be sure your characters’ names make sense, and that they don’t turn the reader off.

How do you choose your characters’ names? What tips do you use to help you choose names? Let me know in the comments!

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This post is part of the #AuthorToolboxBlogHop hosted by the lovely Raimey Gallant. To find out more about the blog hop and check out the other participants’ post go here.