Twitter tools to help authors

There are a vast array of programs designed for Twitter users. Just search Twitter tools and you can get list after list of people telling you about the different applications. As an author and blogger, I use Twitter to promote both. Here are four tools that I use consistently right now – and best of all they are free.

Triberr – This website is known as the blog multiplier. I wrote a blog about it previously. On this site, you join “tribes” of like minded bloggers who tweet about your blog posts and you tweet about theirs. I am the member of two tribes of writers which has increased my reach from my 2337 followers to a potential 321,808.

Friend or Follow This website lets you know who you follow that doesn’t follow you back. I use this to weed out people (mainly authors) that aren’t following me that I don’t care to read their tweets. Now of course, I do follow some people that I don’t expect to follow me back – famous authors, companies and the such.  Currently, it shows 53 people who haven’t followed me back. After I go through them (just put the mouse pointer over each picture to see their Twitter info), I am down to 44 people. I don’t use it too often and never after following a bunch of people as you need to allow them time to follow you back.

Bitly – You may know that this site shortens URLs and makes them easier to tweet but it also gives you the stats of how many people have clicked on your link and you can even customize your link.

hootsuiteHootsuite – This is the program I use the most. It allows you to schedule your tweets in advance. It has other features but really this is the only one I use. I spend about an hour each weekend writing tweets for the week to promote my blog, my books or my Independent Author’s page. I end up scheduling about 6-8 tweets a day enough to feel I am getting my message out without overwhelming or spamming people.

Hootsuite is very handy if you participate in World Literary Café’s Tweet Teams where you reciprocate promotional tweets with nine other people. Simply put them in Hootsuite and schedule to appear throughout the day.

Scheduling my tweets in advance allows me to better use my time for writing rather than trying to remember to get on Twitter and participate throughout the day. Of course, I still get on Twitter usually once or twice a day to retweet others and respond to anyone who has sent me a message.

A few other Twitter tools that look interesting…

1.) Paper.li – Collects your tweets and puts them into a newsletter type format.

2.) Tweetdeck – similar to Hootsuite, it allows you to manage your tweets and check who is clicking on your tweets.

3.) Manageflitter – With just a few clicks you can find out who is following you back, which inactive accounts you are following and who is cluttering your stream with too many tweets.

4.) Refollow – Checks your followers for who hasn’t tweeted in the past 90 days or never tweeted. It also allows you to check someone’s bio and stats before you decide to follow or unfollow them.

With so many options out there, it is hard to cover them all. What other Twitter tools do you find helpful?

Excerpt of The Boy who Lit up the Sky by J. Naomi Ay

I love science fiction and fantasy novels and this eight-part series sound intriguing.  The Two Moons of Rehnor series is written in first person narratives by people who surround the man who was created to be king of the planet Rehnor but ends up changing the whole galaxy.  

Here is an excerpt from Book 1: The Boy who Lit up the Sky.

Excerpt:

Moira

When I was a girl, I wanted to be a dancer.  My parent’s indulged me because I was their youngest and most precious daughter and so they arranged for a dance tutor to come to the great hall where we lived and teach me to dance.  I loved ballet.  I was graceful as a swan, my father the Duke of Dekoor said.  I was as lithe as a feather, my mother the Duchess said.  I danced every moment that I could, gliding across the floor, leaping into the arms of my tutor and soaring to the heavens on my toes until the day I broke my foot.  After that my toe shoes were useless and my dancing ended.  I was fifteen.

I had no use for schooling. I could read and write Mishnese well enough.  I had learned the history of Rehnor and Rozari and could recite it well enough.  I could do sums in my head enough to play cards with my sisters and I could sing and play piano passably well.  I couldn’t sew.  I had never the patience to make tiny stitches.  So there I was at fifteen, unable to dance with nothing more to learn in this world.  I had only to wait to be matched to a sufficiently bred man which as the daughter of a duke meant only a son of a duke or prince.  Even the son of an earl was not good enough for me.  The problem was there were precious few men of high breeding remaining in Mishnah and Saint knows though Karupatani was teeming with princes and chiefs, no good Mishnese girl would ever willingly be wed to one of them.  On top of that, I was the fourth in the line of Dekoor’s daughters and so three dukes must be found first to accommodate my sisters.  There was one prince in our realm, our Crown Prince Yokaa Kalila who at the age of thirty-two, still had not found a bride.  He was our cousin, through my father, three times removed and the only child of our king who had accumulated four wives before he managed to beget a son.  As you can imagine, Yokaa was a hot commodity.

During the summer of my fifteenth year as I mourned the loss of my toe shoes, the Crown Prince was invited to our estate to celebrate the solstice.  Ideally, he was to meet and be enchanted by my eldest sister Dora and if she were not enchanting enough, Luka and then Nisa were to have a go at it.  Never in a million years would anyone imagine that I, Moira, the youngest of the lot, short and skinny with the figure of a boy would even begin to attract the middle aged Crown Prince.  He found me diverting though.  That was his word.  My sisters bored him with their fawning and quest for court gossip but I was fresh and diverting with my silly childish ways.  Though I could no longer leap and dance, I could run and run I did whenever he saw me.  Hence, he gave chase.  He spent a week at our estate and chased me through the hallways, the gardens, the maze, the forest, and the valley.  When he caught up with me, when he found me hiding beneath a shrub or wedged between the garden walls, he would demand a kiss as a reward.

“One kiss, Sir,” I would say and peck him chastely upon his cheek.  Sometimes he would reach for me to demand more and once or twice he managed to brush my lips with his own but like a sprite I would spirit away and the chase would begin anew.

At the end of this week, the Crown Prince asked my father, the Duke for my hand in marriage though he was more than twice my age.  My father insisted he wait until my sixteenth birthday and in the meantime, I was to move to the Palace of Mishnah where I would begin my training for my position as Crown Princess and future Queen.  My sisters’ were insanely jealous but they came to Mishnah with me as my mother insisted they become my attendants.  For seven months, I prepared for my wedding and my future duties with a diligence and steadfastness that I had previously reserved for only my dancing.  On the day after my sixteenth birthday I became the Crown Princess and my virginity was rewarded to my husband who unbeknownst to me had slept repeatedly with each of my sisters during this time.

“Get used to it, Moira,” my mother snapped when I wept to her upon discovering this news.  It was my sister Nisa who bragged about it whilst curtseying to me as she was now required to do.  My mother was inordinately pleased by my match and further still by my sister Luka who had quickly become my husband’s favorite concubine.  She would find no fault for his sins but rather blamed me for my innocence.  “Your son will be the next king and that is who you must love without fail,” she said as if my husband’s affections were of no consequence.

Book Description:

two moonsEscaping the nuclear destruction they had caused on the mother planet Rozari, the Mishnese and Karupatani both chose to resettle on the same planet and continue their fighting. Thus the planet Rehnor has been plagued by wars for more than 1,000 years. The two new young kings have decided to end the wars once and for all by wedding their children, the Karupta Crown Prince to the Mishnese Princess Royal, removing both from the throne and declaring their unborn son as the heir to the planet. Unfortunately, the Princess dies in childbirth and the boy is secreted away by the Mishnese, hidden from his father’ s family in decrepit inner city orphanage. The boy is not a normal child for he has telekinetic and telepathic powers, strange silver eyes and an astonishing, other-worldly beauty. It is clear he is more than just a prince. He is in fact, the MaKennah, the savior whose birth was foretold in the writings of his ancestors. Will he save the planet from the wars or will he be killed before he even gets a chance?

Author Bio:

j naomiayNaomi lives in the north Olympic Peninsula and is mom to 3 kids and a Pomeranian. Naomi has always been a fan of historical fiction, fantasy and science fiction. When not dreaming of space adventures, Naomi works in the renewable energy business and spends time out on the water.

The Two Moons of Rehnor was started more than twenty years ago as one giant epic saga. Today it is available as a 8 part series.

Find out more about Naomi on her website or her blog.

The Boy who Lit up the Sky is available on Amazon and be sure to check out the book trailer.

Designing my kids’ birthday invitations

I may never be the “crafty” mom. I look at ideas on Pintrest and while I see such cute things, I really have no desire to do all that work. I would rather go down and buy something than whip out my glue gun. (As the kids get older, I do find myself sometime trying to be a little “crafty” – or at least if the project is easy.)

One of the projects I am willing to take on is designing my kids their own birthday invitations. I began doing this last year for Jase’s birthday after seeing a fellow mom handle out invitations that were obviously designed for her child rather than store bought. I looked at them and thought, “I can do that.”

I found out she got hers from Etsy (the marketplace for crafty people to sell their products). For about $6-8 you can have someone design them for your child’s party. You can either print them from your home computer or print them at your local photo place such as Wal-Mart or Walgreens. Or you can buy them off Etsy already printed with envelopes. (prices vary per vendor)

Now you could just go to Wal-Mart’s website or a place like Shutterfly or Vista Print and create your own invitations, but these have a limited amount of designs and may not  have the theme your child wants.

Since I have done some graphic design in the past, I knew this was something I could do. The first thing I did was look at the ones on Etsy for ideas – both wording and background art. Once I had a general idea of what I wanted to do, I began looking for artwork.

For Jase’s Star Wars/Clone Wars invitation, I typed Clone Wars background into my search engine. (Also try desktop or wallpaper in your search.) I looked for designs that had a clear place to write. This means you need any characters on the left or right side of the picture with some background material that you can type the actual invitation wording over.

birthday invitation

Once you find the background, bring it into your software. I use Corel Draw though you could use Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Elements or even Word (though I find Word hard to use for this type of work.) I use Corel Draw because I am familiar with it from doing flyers or manipulating artwork for my blog.

Add your copy and then simply print on your home printer or down at your local photo place. Last year, I ordered them online at Walmart. You can pick up envelopes at any office-supply store (or Wal-Mart). This year’s invitation for Lexie cost $3.50 for 18 invitations – that is printing, shipping and tax from Wal-mart. I have envelopes left over from Jase’s party last year.

This year Jase is into Halo, so I will be looking for Halo backgrounds. Lexie’s birthday is next month. She picked out a Barbie fairy cake, so I designed this invitation for her.

lexie invitation

So while I may not be making all the decorations for their party or creating a super cute goodie bag, I can at least give them an awesome invitation that fits their theme exactly.

Today’s Featured Author: Paul H. Landes

Today, I have author Paul H. Landes with me talking about his book Wings to Redemption.

Interview

What inspired you to start writing?

That’s one of my favorite stories and I love sharing it. Eighteen years ago I met a certain someone and we soon discovered that we shared a hidden desire to write a novel. Without any idea as to what we were doing, we plunged into writing this book and getting to know each other at the same time. We never did finish the book, but we got to know each other, fell in love and got married. That certain someone is Kristen, my wife and partner for life.

We never finished the novel together, but seventeen years later when I picked up the old dirt stained box and after I read through the story, I was hooked again. It tugged at me, “come finish me…come finish me…” I found a way to get the dinosaur disks converted over to modern technology and I began the whole process all over. I took what we had done and spent the next twelve months writing, polishing, researching and writing.

What can you tell us about your current release, Wings to Redemption?

I have a one-liner that perfectly describes the story – a fast paced romantic “who-done-it” techno-thriller. That covers a lot of territory, but I classify it as a romantic thriller. The main character in the story is Alex Boudreau and unfortunately I can’t reveal much about Alex here. Alex’s real identity is unveiled in the early chapters and so I have described Alex in rather vague terms on the book jacket and other materials. I’m betting most of the readers will have a sheepish smile when they find out about Alex’s true identity. So, my story has two people who meet in a predator-prey type situation and although they’ve led polar opposite lives, they have parallel psychological scars that they’ve each dealt with very differently over the years. It makes for an interesting push – pull type of relationship. While that relationship plays out, or not, the reader will travel through the world of corporate espionage and discover some cutting-edge and forward thinking ways to hack computers and they’ll be introduced to the creation of a weapons-grade virus that poses catastrophic consequences. I love the ending too and I’ll tell you I didn’t see that one coming myself until one of the later re-writes.

What kind of research did you did in this book?

I think the whole book was researched which is why I so often refer to is as “faction.” Every location in the book was either visited by me or I had lengthy discussions with people who were intimately familiar with the location. I relied very heavily on one friend, Dr. Murray Gardner from UC Davis, to help me create a genetically engineered virus and the end result is something that is not yet feasible today, but it definitely borders on the edge of reality. I really think that having so many “real” things twisted into the plot sets Wings to Redemption apart from many other fiction novels.

Did the story turn out the way you planned from the beginning? If not, what change(s) happened that you didn’t expect?

The biggest change, by far, happened after I found an absolutely great editor to help me. Nancy Roberts pushed me beyond where I ever thought I would have to go. I worked with her for seven months and as a result the story has so much more depth. At this point the reader really gets to know the characters and to feel and touch their emotions. I did change the ending through all of this and I think that has made for a much more dramatic story.

I understand that this book is part of a series. What can you tell us about the next book? Are there any details you can share with us?

At the end of Wings to Redemption there are some unanswered questions that are addressed very early on in the second book, not the least of which is what happened to Benjamin? The second book is a continuation that will follow the same theme and also visit some stunning spots. Antarctica plays a central theme and I was amazed to learn that there are so many unknowns about this continent. I have the story written and I still have plenty of revisions to do, but I expect to have it out in June of this year.

What is the best and worst advice you ever received?

I know I’ve certainly ignored some great advice over the years, unfortunately, but I do remember someone who said something to me years ago that went a long way in helping me realize my dream to someday write a novel. Years ago, when Kristen and I “thought” we had written enough and that any minute some publisher would swoop in and grab our story, we were lucky to get an audience with John Lescroart. John is one of those big-time successful writers and he just happens to be one of my favorites. He told me back then that as a first time author I would need to write every single word of the story myself and be prepared to defend every single word. That wasn’t what I expected to hear, no, I thought he was going to introduce us to a publisher and we’d be on our way.  Those words really stuck with me. Once during the 17 years that the story was tucked away I took it out and looked at it. His words echoed in my head and I knew I wasn’t going to finish the story at that time. When I finally did jump into it there were times when I’d get stuck or maybe disillusioned some, but his words kept bouncing back…you need to write every single word yourself. I give John full credit in getting me through some rough spots and ultimately becoming a published author in my own rite.

Do you have a specific place that you like to write?

Actually, I’m pretty good at blocking out distractions and I find that I’m able to write just about anywhere. But, without a doubt my favorite spot is a house we have on the north coast of California. There’s a loft overlooking the Pacific Ocean and surrounded by Redwood Trees and I can get lost when I’m writing there. In fact, I just got back from ten days where I worked nonstop on the second book.

What advice would you give to new/unpublished authors?

To steal a line from Nike—Just Do It. One of the dedications in the book reads “To all those who dream of writing their first novel, make your dreams your reality.” It has now happened to me and it can certainly happen to so many others. One of the things I always discuss at my book signings is this very topic. I’ll ask “Who here has not harbored a dream about writing their own novel or maybe a memoir or a how-to book? By phrasing it in the negative, I have yet to see anyone raise their hand. You don’t have to write a 400 page great American novel to be an author and to experience the euphoria of writing. No, just set aside some quiet time and write. Before you know it your thoughts will blend with your pen and you’re on your way.

Book Description

wings to redemptionAlex Boudreau has been trained to win…at any cost. Lured by a sacred trust back into a life of stealth and undercover thievery, Alex confronts a tormented past laced with guilt, self-proclaimed failure and deception. Faced with gripping, split-second decisions that would forever shape the future, Alex plunges, once again, into the world of corporate intrigue, greed and deceit.  After stealing a top-secret genetically engineered drug, Alex discovers the stolen information contains the specs to create a viral weapon – a weapon designed to threaten the world.  Now the target of cold, calculating men with unlimited resources, nerves and wits are the only weapons available to unearth the identity of these men who are determined to kill not only Alex, but millions of others.

This Alex Boudreau adventure is filled with cutting-edge technology and riveting conflicts entwined with deep passion, conspiracies and spiraling twists.

Author Bio

paulFather of two, husband to one and the proud half-owner of three loyal dogs.​

​I have traveled and maneuvered through the corporate world as an executive, real estate developer and consultant. Along the way I encountered some successes and some failures, but all-in-all, I have gained life experiences that serve me well today.  I guess I became a full-time author in August, 2011. I was searching for something meaningful to do when I re-opened the story that Kristen and I started together so many years ago. Since then, I have been writing, writing and writing.​

I have always been and will continue to be a true adventurer, seeking new ideas, new places to visit and new goals to conquer. I can be spotted swimming in lakes and rivers and I am usually accompanied by my faithful Ridgeback when hiking the mountains or fishing its streams.​

Find out more information about Paul on his website and check out his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter.

You can buy Wings to Redemption on Amazon.