Social Media for Authors

Your book is done and out there for the world to find, read, and love. Of course, no reader (beyond friends and family) will find it without some marketing. One of the best – and typically free – way to market your book is on social media. Maintaining a presence on social media these days is a must for any writer.

Social Media Options

Facebook free iconFacebook is one of the largest social media platforms and is widely used across all demographics. Instead of adding friends to your personal page, your best bet is to create an Author page. You can also create or join an author group as a way of networking.

Twitter free iconTwitter is one of the most watched platforms. From presidential politics to celebrity gossip, Twitter is the place to be. This is a great place to build a following as many Twitter users will follow you if you follow them.

Image result for instagram iconInstagram focuses on pictures and video sharing. You can share creative pictures of your work or other things that inspire you that allow readers to know you more.

Goodreads is a social media platform designed for writers. It exists to connect authors and their readers. Most of those on Goodreads are readers. Their reviews and lists can help deliver exposure for new and budding authors.

Image result for pinterest iconPinterest is the least time consuming of the social media (as a form of advertising that is. Users on the other hand can spend hours looking at the items pinned on different pages.) People don’t expect you to reply or talk to them. You can just post your pins and let the program’s algorithm take care of the rest.

With this many social media options, you could spend a lot of time keeping up with them – time that you could better spend writing your next novel. It is true that social media can take up a lot of time, so my suggestion is to only pick one or two. Focus on the ones that appeal to you. If you hate Facebook, don’t join Facebook. If you don’t understand Instagram than pick one of the other social media options. You won’t have the time to be everywhere. You should be writing instead of maintaining all these accounts.

How to effectively use social media?

  • Post regularly.
  • Post about topics that aren’t all about your writing or your books. You want readers (or potential readers) to see you are a human just like them. Being relatable can boost sales of your books.
  • Interact with your readers. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, respond to comments and connect with your readers in a meaningful way.

For more on social media, check out this article from NY Book Editors, Kindleprenueur or Bookbub.

The challenges of eating out with picky eaters

This summer, I encouraged the kids to try some new foods. They are both picky eaters in their own way. And being non-adventurous eaters, they are usually hesitant to try new things. While this summer’s experiment went well, I now need to expand the items they will eat when we dine out.

Image result for steak with friesPicking places that please both kids (as well as the adults) can certainly be challenging since neither child seems to like the same things. Jase will eat steaks, pizza, chicken nuggets and tacos. Lexie likes spaghetti, pizza (if not to greasy), and steak. At home she will eat fried rice, enchiladas, and chili but she likes how I make them and not so much how they taste from a restaurant.

But fast food or sit-down places, I find it a challenge to find a place they both will eat well. For example, last Thursday, my husband was working so I decided the kids and I would go out to eat. I was thinking some fast food like Chic-fil-a. Lexie vetoed that. She used to love Chic-fil-a but once it made her stomach upset and now she rarely will eat there. She suggested one of her favorites Chipotle, but I didn’t want to eat there as the last two times I haven’t felt well after eating there. (And we will be eating there next month as part of a school fundraiser.)

Jase suggested Whataburger but Lexie said no. She always wants to order a hamburger but then never eats them which of course annoys me. Panda Express was out since Jase doesn’t eat Chinese and I wasn’t sure how Lexie would do with their fried rice. She loves the fried rice I make but is quite picky about other versions. She suggested Olive Garden where I know both kids will eat but I wasn’t looking for a sit-down place.

Related imageWe ended up going to Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers. Lexie tried their California burger and ate about 1/2 of it with the lettuce and tomato (a first) before just ditching the bun and veggies to finish the patty. She only at just a few fries but ate enough for me to get her a brownie delight sundae for dessert.

This whole process of selecting a place happens all the time and is draining! We are going on a trip with my parents this summer and I am already looking for places that my kids will find things they like. We are going to New Orleans and I know they won’t want gumbo, seafood or Cajun food.

Image result for disney donutsWe are also going to Disney World this year. That proves it own challenges as both of the kids are now considered “adults” but have the palates of “kids”. Even ordering off the kids’ menu isn’t guaranteed to make them happy. Disney’s kids’ menus most of the time don’t appeal to them. They don’t eat turkey sandwiches, uncrustables (PB&J) or mac-n-cheese. Plus, those meals are smaller though as I point out to the kids that just leaves more room for desserts and snacks.

My goal between now and these trips is to get them to start trying different meals. It could be that they just take a bite or two of what my husband or I am eating, or it might be they order something new. I’d rather they try things here rather than on vacation – especially when looking at those Disney meal prices.

Why writers must be readers

I’m sure you have heard it – from teachers, other writers and in books on writing – “Writers need to be readers.” Or something to that effect.

Writers work with words and it is in their best interest to know them well. A writer who doesn’t read is like a musician not listening to music or a chef who never samples other foods. Reading and writing go hand in hand.

Reading is not simply important for writers. It is essential to making them better writers.

Benefits of reading:

  • Reading other works of fiction can give you strong fundamentals in story structure and plot development. You can learn many techniques just by reading a variety of other works.
  • Reading allows you to see what works and what doesn’t work. Not all books with thrill you. You can learn a lot from books you don’t enjoy or don’t finish.
  • Reading can inspire you and ignite your imagination.
  • Reading can motivate you to move forward with your own work.
  • Reading lets you gain new knowledge on a variety of different topics. It allows you to understand language better and can expand your vocabulary.
  • Reading can expand your world. It allows you to step into someone else’s shoes and experience new things.
  • Reading is a great way to escape. Skip learning anything and just enjoy being transported into another world.

And you don’t have to read just fiction. You can newspapers and magazines or non-fiction and how to books. Writers should read a variety of works.

I know sometimes we are busy and feel we don’t have time to read. Or sometimes we are so absorbed in our own work that we may not want to be distracted by reading. But there is always a time for reading whether it is daily, on weekends or just on vacation. You can read while you eat your lunch at work or while waiting in the pickup line at your child’s school or while they are in gymnastics or karate. Take this time to read a magazine instead of scrolling through Facebook.

And if you don’t have time to read, you can also listen to audiobooks on your commute, while doing chores or while exercising.

Side note – I’ll admit that when I am in the midst of writing – really in a groove – I resist reading. That is because often when I read, I do get absorbed into the story and all I want to do is keep reading. Then I end up reading when I should be writing.

You write for your readers. No amount of learning grammar rules and writing techniques can replace understanding your readers and to do that you need to be a reader yourself.

So take some time to read, to enjoy what you read. Get lost in the language, get lost in the story. Everything you learn as a reader; you can use as a writer.

 

Planning three – yes, three – trips this year

It is the beginning of a New Year. That means it is time to think about vacation plans. Those of you who read my blog know I am a planner and sometimes have vacations in the work for quite a long time. And this year is no different. For two of these destinations, I have been researching and planning for the past few months.

South Padre Island

Every June, my husband attends an attorney conference. It typically has been in one of two locations – South Padre Island (SPI) or Los Pines Resort (in Burnett, Texas). Last year, they deviated from the norm and had it here in San Antonio at the Riverwalk.

View from the balony of the Isla Grand

This year, it is back at the Isla Grand Beach Resort on South Padre Island. It will be a short trip – Wednesday through Saturday – but it is the beach so you know the kids will love it.

New Orleans

Last year, the kids and I went to Corpus Christi, Texas with my brother and parents. We talked about going somewhere this summer, but we have a big trip (Disney) planned as do my brother and parents (14-day cruise next January). Originally, we considered Washington DC, but the cost was prohibitive since we would have to fly all 7 of us there. Then my dad mentioned he wanted to go to the World War II museum in New Orleans and thus our vacation destination was picked.

It is only an 8-hour drive (without stops) to New Orleans. We will go up on a Thursday and come back the following Tuesday. In between those days, we have trips planned to the zoo, aquarium, swamp tour, bus tour, paddleboat ride up to a Civil War battlefield and of course a stop at the WWII museum. And then we crazily decided to take a ride in a PT-305 boat, a small, fast military boat that typically would have been armed with torpedoes and machine guns. The one in New Orleans is the world’s only fully restored combat-veteran PT boat in operation. It promises to be “the ride of a lifetime.”

Disney World

Twenty-five years ago, my husband and I married and took our honeymoon in Disney World. Since then we have gone back several times with the kids (and once without them besides that honeymoon trip). We last went in December of 2016. It is definitely time to go back – especially with the Star Wars themed Galaxy’s Edge having opened at the end of 2019.

That last trip was the weekend after Thanksgiving week which is a great time to go. You see all the Holiday decorations and the weather is pretty good – or at least not hot and humid like the summer. But now that the kids are in middle school, I am hesitant to take them out of school for a full week. My husband suggested going during their Christmas break, but the kids don’t want to be away from home on Christmas day, and the parks are insanely busy.

I suggested our Spring Break which is in March, but Lexie’s birthday is right then, and she doesn’t want to be in WDW during her birthday. (Weird I know.) That left us with summer break (hot and busy) or Thanksgiving break (crazy busy). It seems the kids don’t mind being gone on Thanksgiving as that is the week we picked. Yes, it will be crazy busy as it gets closer to Thanksgiving, but we will be in Disney…that makes up for any aggravation the crowds might cause.

We have already booked our hotel. We rented Disney Vacation Club (DVC) points and will be staying at the Kidani Village at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. This is a deluxe resort which we could only afford because we rent DVC points.

If you don’t know about the Animal Kingdom Lodge, it is surrounded by savannahs where zebras, giraffes, hippos, impalas, ostriches, cranes, wildebeests and other herbivorous animals roam. It is wonderful to wake up to see animals out your window or while you are eating your lunch. The kids and I can’t wait!

Here is hoping to three great trips this year.

My Top 10 Writing a Novel Posts from 2019

Since this is the beginning of the year, I thought I would recap some of my better posts about writing a novel from 2019. To read the actual post, simply click on the link after the opening paragraph.

Super Easy, Barely an Inconvenience

Six years ago, I wrote about the question why and how it can improve your storytelling. As in why are your characters doing this? Why are they going here? Why would he do/say/think that? (To read more, click here – and yes, this post is about how the YouTube/Screen Rant Pitch Meetings can help your writing.)

Finding time to write

Finding time to write is always my biggest challenge. In fact, I have written about this topic many times but since it is always a concern, I figure what is once more. And I am not the only one with this problem. Many authors who don’t write full-time struggle with this same issue. (To read more, click here.)

How long does it take to write a novel?

Many aspiring authors might wonder how long it will take them to write that novel they have running around in their head. That could depend on quite a few things. (To read more, click here.)

The ups and downs of writing

If you are a follower of my blog, you undoubtedly noticed that for most of May, I have not posted my weekly writing/publishing post. I really was just too busy. And for once, I wasn’t just busy with non-writing stuff (PTA, work, kids’ end of the school events – though I did have these things too), I was actually writing on my current work-in-progress, which I had been neglecting.

But I don’t want to get away from writing on my blog so here I am. For today’s topic I thought I would talk about the ups and downs of writing. (To read more, click here.)

Looking at how long it takes to write a novel

Last week I wrote about the ups and downs of writing. Sometimes I am cranking out the words and other days I am struggling to find time to write. As I read about the experiences of other authors, I hear about authors who write thousands of words a day. (To read more, click here.)

Cutting unnecessary scenes from your novel

Every author at some point will write a scene that just doesn’t really need to be in their novel. The scene might be rehashing something the characters or reader already know. Or maybe it is connecting two scenes that could have been connected another way such as with a chapter break.

Every scene in your novel should be an integral to the story arc. If it isn’t, then it doesn’t belong in your story. (To read more, click here.)

Challenge your character

The other day as I was struggling to write a scene, I realized the scene wasn’t working as it didn’t have any tension. Now not every scene needs to be tense or full of conflict, but one useful tip to give your characters challenges. Nothing should come easy for them. This advice helped me to fix the scene. (To read more, click here.)

Killing off a character or two

Image result for murderLooking to add conflict or tension to your novel? You might consider killing off a character – or depending on the type of novel more than one character. (To read more, click here.)

Sometimes writing goes in a different direction

Sometimes things don’t turn out like you planned. And when it comes to writing that is often the case. Sometimes what you think you are going to write goes a total different direction. (To read more, click here.)

Using timelines to organize information for your novel

Timelines can help you keep track of your information as your write your novel. These can keep your story consistent. A timeline suggests a past, present, and future or in the case of a plot, a beginning, middle and end. we can see cause and effect. We see patterns and turning points. (To read more, click here.)