Talking about Twitter.

I was invited to go and waffle on about one of my favourite subjects today; the internet!!light-up-the-web-1193828-1279x852

I cannot – simply cannot tell you how much I love the internet. I’m total junkie, want to know something; ask Google. Want to buy something; search eBay….. (I’d better issue a disclaimer here…) Other search engines and purchasing sites are available — truthfully though, it can pretty much answer or find most things.

But to be specific, in my day job i’m a social media consultant, and I was asked to go along to my local writers group, The Lovedean Writers, to give a little talk and answer questions on how to market yourself and use social media as a self-published, or independent, author.

As it turns out i’ve ended up with a few points that seemed to be quite useful, so I thought i’d share them.

Writing can be a lonely life, as writers (myself included,) our little voice can wreck our confidence in seconds, stop us getting words on the page, and dry up inspiration quicker than the summer of ’76. (There was a heat wave that year, for you lucky folks who are too young to remember.)

But with fabulous social media sites like Twitter and Facebook we don’t have to be alone any more…Beware though — social media can be the devil’s own time waster, especially once you discover how much fun it is.

A few years ago ‘networking’ was the in thing, you went ‘on-line’ and networked your a*se off, nowadays it’s more of a dirty word – networking insinuates that you are schmoozing the unwitting, and trying to flog your product.

These day it just wont work — people are smarter than that, they like to know about you, they want to invest in your life and share your highs and lows. (Did I mention that social media is mostly full of nosey people?)

You have to be ‘present’ — and it all depends how you want to interact with people. Facebook is all about longer posts, and running conversations. Twitter is 140 characters — including spaces and punctuation, twitter is the home of the snarky comment and the witty comeback. Both places are great ways to meet other writers, existing readers (if you’re already published) and prospective readers.
But here’s the thing – you remember the guy from that movie, he stood on the corner wearing an A-board shouting that the world was going to end? Did anyone listen to him?

Nope.

And that’s the thing to remember with social media, it’s not advertising space. If all you do is tweet or post, ‘buy my book, buy my book, for the love of god will someone BUY MY BOOK’ — people will hit the block & delete buttons, and they’ll do it quick.
People expect you to come on-line and ‘be real’ — even Victoria Beckham posts photos of her self being stupid, and dare I say…Smiling. Need I say more?

Now the thought of sharing your life with the world can be somewhat terrifying, but don’t worry, there are ways to cut down the anxiety. So here’s a few cold hard tips…

If you are looking to self publish your book to any of the wonderful self publishing platforms out there; Amazon, Kobo, Ibooks, Wattpad, Smashwords, Createspace, Lulu… (I could go on.) Then you are going to need an online platform from which to launch your book. If you haven’t got an on-line platform get yourself on the boat and play around, it’ll take you time to write your masterpiece and building up your online presence while you’re at it is a great way to start. (Share your writing agonies with the twitterverse, they love it — and they’ll support and sympathise, it really is win-win.)

If you’re worried about what to share, make yourself a ‘comfort circle’; draw a circle and write inside what you don’t mind sharing….Do you fish, garden, play bridge, do yoga in the dark? That can go in the circle. If you have Mum tips, cooking tips, watch Strictly or cash in the attic — put it in the circle. And before you know it you’ll have a comfortable go-to list of things that ‘you’ love that you can chat to the world about.

Now the trick is to not let it overwhelm you — once you know what you’re doing, carve out two 15 minutes slots a day, (preferably different times each day,) and tweet or post to hearts content, make sure you answer people who’ve tweeted you. And you’ll watch your audience grow.

If you’re using Twitter don’t forget to check out whats trending — that’s all the little # signs that you’ll see. It’s called hash tagging; it’s where you highlight the point of your tweet. And it’s a great way to find people who you’d like to follow and tweet with. So if GameOfThrones is your thing shove a # in front of it; #GameOfThrones and the GOT lovers (you can hashtag that too; #GOT) will find you in a minute — and they’re an opinionated lot, so watch out.

Now i’ve already waffled on a lot – and believe it or not, I did talk about more than twitter, (honest). But I think i’ll come back with another instalment — I’ll waffle all about finding beta readers and getting ready to Launch in the next post. You know, I may even take my life in my hands and make some videos on the subject for youtube.

You can find my works page HERE, it was lovely to waffle on, catch you laters.

Synopsis Resources.

This post does what it says on the tin….

For those of you that haven’t heard my whining and moaning over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been getting royally owned by my synopsis writing skill ~ or lack thereof.

And do you know what gets you through; Wine writing friends, and good resources.

There was a stage where I was so blind to the words they could’ve been Greek for all I knew. So pull your writing friends close when times are tough.              pencil-pusher-1236711-1279x664

And get good resources ~ Here’s a few websites that were great…

Kathy Carmichael 

Jane Friedman

RomanceUniversity 

Happy writing, lovely peeps.

The Tale of The Whining Writer.

ok chaps and chapesses – i’m getting close to facing the fear and doing it anyway — yes, it’s submission time.

Or nearly.

I wrote the perfect cover letter last night – I kid you not, I penned that last full stop at 3.34am and knew I had it in the bag. I had the perfect mix of professionalism and humour. I gave myself that mental ‘tick in the box’, congratulated myself all the way to bed and went to sleep smirking with smugness.

I’ll bet you can imagine how that perfect cover letter read this morning, in the cold light of day.

Yup; utter garbage.

I know that being a writer isn’t just about writing the story and getting to live in the warm safe-space of my mind, where all my little friends talk to me. But you can imagine if i’m sweating over the cover letter then the synopsis has had me beat for weeks.

I want to moan and whine, I want to weep into my caffeine free tea (don’t judge me) that I’m a wrrriiiittttterrrr of stories, not synopsissssss.

But them’s the breaks. Being a writer isn’t just telling the tale (i’m sorry, ‘showing’ the tale – how foolish of me,) these days being a writer is having an internet presence, chatting on twitter, hosting workshops, going to conferences, speaking in schools — the list is endless. And whining about it just wont get it done.

So i’d better get back to the desk.

Later Gators.

Getting the job done.

Love is love.

Before Christmas I lost my happy little Lucy. She didn’t get to a fair age – if there is any such thing as fair. And right to the last she was only concerned with being the best canine friend she could be.

It hit my little family very hard. You see, Lucy was the best of us. She was never short-tempered, never too tired, her excitement at being with each of us never waned. Cupboard love was never an option for our Luce, the only kind of love she wanted was ours.

Our Lab, even the cat, didn’t know what to do without having Lucy to walk the fences last thing at night. Without hearing her paws purposefully cross the downstairs floor when we went to bed — checking that everything was as it should be.

Who was going to run those trespassing pigeons from the garden now?

It was a long December, and on New Years Eve I finally came to the conclusion that Lucy simply would not have had any us moping about without her.

And so our search began, not for a replacement — for nobody could ever do that, but for a new friend. Because love is love – whether is comes on two legs or four.

I'm sure you'll sure a lot more photo's of this little girl over on Crazy Creatures
Welcome Miss Phoebe, I’m sure you’ll see a lot more photo’s of this little girl over on Crazy Creatures
Lovely Lucy
Lovely Lucy, our very special girl x

Your choices are half chance

I saw a suitcase today, one of those little hand luggage type things.
It was white, with black writing and red hearts all over it – I ❤ Ny, I ❤ to travel…..

It was sitting in the middle of the path with its pull along handle pointing to the sky.

I live in a village. On the south coast. And I think i’m lucky; I’m surrounded by farms and villages, a short car ride takes me into town and an hour on the train and I’m in London.

And I love it here. But today I saw a suitcase.

It had no owner. And I wondered.

I was on my way to Sainsburys of all places, the road was quiet, the village was quiet, and the unattended suitcase was grossly out of place.

And I realised in that instant, that all the press, the media, the news coverage since Paris — it was mona-bazooka-1253659-1280x960residing in my unconscious mind.

In that moment I wondered if it was a bomb. For a split second I wondered if terrorism had come to my little village — my little haven.

And I was afraid.

Fear. I was afraid because the media told me I should be.

And I hate that.

It writes the words, or it gets the hose…

Once again, Nano season has come around, and there’s no getting away from the fact that I’m off to a shockingly poor start. Like, truly abysmal, and I think I know why…

So, after the last couple of years of going to war with Nano, I’ve ended up with an odd little superstition of not putting fingers to keyboard until the 3rd of November – I have no idea where or when this started. But in years past as long as I wait until the 3rd before writing, I seem to get a respectable amount of words down. I’ve come to the conclusion that the stress of waiting those extra two days gives me….The Fear. 

And this year my little habit has royally kicked me in the a*se. I was secretly smug, gleefully wicked as everyone else hit the ground running on the 1st of November, knowing I still had two more days grace — and you know what happens when you feel like that; the universe strikes you down.

There I was on the 3rd of November, sauntering around, wrangling children for the school run, already congratulating myself on how writerly I was going to feel once they were all safely delivered, and I could come home and be all Hemingwayesque.

Oh how the Universe must have been chuckling as I went to get my handbag.

I bet the Universe damn near fell off her chair as I looked with despair at my handbag; locked in the boot of my car with my purse and my keys.

As it turned out my husband had the other set. He was only thirty or so miles away…

I desperately called in the Calvary; my father-in-law — and borrowed his little Yaris, cramming my hoard inside. Everyone was late for school, the roads were hell, and I drove out to the Husband to get the spare set — it was only a ninety-seven mile round trip.

I got back to find the wind had blown the bins to hell andScreen Shot 2015-11-07 at 12.15.05 back.

Suffice to say I didn’t write that day. And I haven’t written a day since — even breaking my own regular writing pattern. It’s time to get tough; it writes the words, or it gets the hose.

 

 

(And if you haven’t heard of Nano, it’s where us crazy writer types all think it would be a good idea to write 50,000 words in the month of November. If you fancy it, you can find the site HERE )

1st Leydean Cubs Rough It for The Rucksack Challenge 2015.

The Clanfield Cubs have taken on the challenge to raise as much money as possible for the Rucksack Project. (Big thanks to MrsB for getting us involved.) If you haven’t heard about it, head on over to Facebook to see what’s happening in Portsmouth, or to their website, if you’d like to find out what’s going on near you.

They have been busy collecting cardboard boxes — and if you’re a parent, family member, teacher or friend of a cub, and you stood still too long, I have no doubt that a sponsorship form was firmly placed in your hands, accompanied with a winning smile.

So, at 7pm on Saturday the 19th of September, we ferried our cubs to their HQ. They had a sleeping bag, a rucksack, and lots of enthusiastic excitement. I don’t imagine sleep was on their agenda at all.

Clanfield Cubs Rough It

Unlike today, the weather was kind, chilly through the night I’m sure. But, thankfully, dry. They had very simple rules for the sleep out.
They could bring a rucksack and nothing else, they had to get whatever extra clothes and snacks they thought they would need into it.

There was no-where to cook food and no tents.

They set to work straight away, organising their cardboard, using the outside walls for as much shelter as possible.

Clanfield Cubs Rough IT Cubs Rough It Challenge

There was even a little house for the cub mascot, Alfie.

Alfie, The cub.

We collected our tired troops on Sunday morning at 8 o’clock, and the conversations we’ve had since their adventure has demonstrated what a powerful lesson they’ve learned.

My girls understood why they were raising money, and they understand what homelessness is. But after a very dark, uncomfortable night they now question how come ‘being homeless’ is allowed to be ‘ok’.
We have been asked questions in the last 24 hours that we’ve struggled to find answers to…
                                 Who lets people be homeless – why can’t people be helped?
           

                                    What about their family?                   What if they aren’t well?
                                     

 Who protects them from robbers when they’re asleep?

  What about when their food runs out?                   What about when it snows?
                                                                                  

… and in turn they have begun to look very closely at the world they live in, to see how they’d like to change it.