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7 Reasons Every Author Needs to Be on Twitter (And A New Busy Writer’s Guide)

By Marcy Kennedy (@MarcyKennedy)

I’m thrilled to announce that the next book in my Busy Writer’s Guides series is now available!

Twitter for Authors

Building a thriving social media platform doesn’t have to steal all your precious writing time or cut into your time with your family.Twitter for Authors is about building a successful Twitter platform that’s sustainable for busy people.

Twitter often gets a bad reputation from people who don’t understand it or don’t know how to use it to its full potential to build an author platform. When used correctly, Twitter can be one of the best tools for increasing traffic to your blog and gaining new readers for your books. And it’s fun!

In Twitter for Authors, you’ll learn…

  • essential Twitter terminology,
  • how to set up your account,
  • the differences between TweetDeck and Hootsuite,
  • techniques for staying safe on Twitter,
  • how to build columns and lists and use them to find readers,
  • the value of link shorteners and hashtags,
  • what to tweet about,
  • the most common mistakes writers make on Twitter,
  • how to run a successful Twitter event,
  • how to manage your social media time,
  • and much more!

Twitter for Authors contains helpful advice for both Twitter newbies and long-time Twitter users who want to take their platform to the next level.

Due to popular demand, I’ve made Twitter for Authors available in both print and ebook form.

You can buy Twitter for Authors at Amazon.com, at Kobo, or at Smashwords. More sites will be coming soon! The ebook is priced at $2.99 at Amazon.com and the print version costs $12.99.

I’d appreciate it if you’d share this post on Facebook, Google+, or wherever you hang out. And remember to add your favorite writing hashtag when you tweet! (Suggestions: #amwriting #amediting #writetip #MyWANA)

For those of you who aren’t convinced about the importance of Twitter yet, how about this…

7 Reasons Every Writer Needs to Be on Twitter

Twitter often gets a bad rap by people who don’t understand it, misunderstand it as full of spam and celebrity stalkers, or don’t know how to use it to its full potential to build an author platform. When used correctly, though, Twitter can be one of the best tools for meeting new readers and increasing traffic to your blog. Not to mention it’s fun!

Don’t believe me? Well, let me prove it to you then. I have seven reasons why I think every writer should be using Twitter.

Reason #1 – Twitter has over 100 million active accounts and growing.

Whether you’re seeking traditional publication or plan to self-publish, whether you’re a non-fiction author, a novelist, a poet, or a short story writer, you need a platform to sell your work. Your readers are on Twitter. You just need to know how to meet them.

This is true even if you write children’s books or YA. If you write for kids, your readers might not be on Twitter, but their parents and aunts and uncles and even grandparents are, and your books might just be the perfect gift they’re looking for.

Reason #2 – Twitter allows you to build a following faster than any other social networking site.

People who find you on Facebook usually already know you. People who find you on Twitter are more likely to be complete strangers (at first) because of the ability to participate in conversations through hashtags.

Reason #3 – Twitter makes you a better writer.

Twitter gives you 140 characters to work with. Not 140 letters or 140 words, but 140 characters. Spaces count, and so does punctuation. Links count as well.

Working within those constraints forces you to write tighter. No purple prose allowed. No weak verbs modified by adjectives. You need to figure out exactly what you’re trying to say. Those skills translate directly into better writing elsewhere.

Reason #4 – Twitter brings you the news faster than any news site can.

Twitter is real time, which means that while reporters are putting together their stories and getting approval from their editors, normal people on site are tweeting. In August 2011, Twitter lit up like a firefly on crack about the 5.8 earthquake in Virginia before the news stations could catch their balance. My husband and I were able to call my mother-in-law right away to make sure she and the rest of the family there were safe.

In the plague of tornadoes that rolled through Texas in April 2012, Twitter might have even saved lives. So many tornadoes hit the Dallas area at once that meteorologists couldn’t keep up, even if people still had electricity and the ability to check their television, use their computer, or tune in on the radio. But what everyone could still do was tweet using their phones. People banded together to warn others and report sightings, keeping all involved safer than they could have been alone.

Reason #5 – Twitter allows you to keep your finger on the pulse of the publishing industry.

Twitter is like a writer’s mecca because you can quickly find out about interesting and informative new blog posts (already vetted by others), get tips on writing and publishing from agents, editors, and bestselling authors, and keep up on industry trends and new releases. No searching involved. It comes to you in a bite-sized 140 character nugget. If you decide you want more, you click the link.

Reason #6 – Twitter helps you research.

In her bestselling book We Are Not Alone: A Writer’s Guide to Social Media, Kristen tells the story of how she needed information on bounty hunters for her novel. Rather than wasting hours trying to sort through results on Google and still not coming up with what she needed, she tweeted about it and received replies from actual bounty hunters willing to answer her questions.

But it’s not only facts you can research on Twitter. If you’re not sure your main character’s name is a good fit for his personality and job, ask. If you want to know what writing software other writers actually trust, ask. (I did and fell in love with Scrivener.)

In my co-written novel with Facebook expert Lisa Hall-Wilson, we mentioned Sodom and Gomorrah, and we debated whether enough people would know what we meant. So I asked, and we ended up leaving it in the book.

Reason #7 – Twitter gives you a support network of friends.

I’ve left this to last because, to me, it’s the most important. Writing is solitary. We sit at our computers and play with our imaginary friends. Which is great, but also leaves us without the support network we need if we want to make writing a long-term career.

On Twitter, you’ll find someone to talk you down off the ledge when one too many rejections or poor reviews leave you wanting to quit writing altogether. On Twitter, you can make writers friends who’ll run word sprints with you to help you keep on track. On Twitter, you can make reader friends who’ll be excited to go out and buy your book and tell everyone about it.

Twitter is like the workplace water cooler. Come, chat, and get back to work. It doesn’t take all day to make Twitter a valuable place to be!

If you’re not on Twitter yet, what’s holding you back? If you are on Twitter, what do you struggle with?

And if you’re on Twitter, make sure to leave your username in the comments so we can all follow each other!

You can buy Twitter for Authors at Amazon.com, at Kobo, or at Smashwords.

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How a Good Relationship Is Like a Ropes Course

By Marcy Kennedy (@MarcyKennedy)

Image Credit: Knowwuh [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Image Credit: Knowwuh [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I’ve always said I’m not afraid of heights. I’m afraid of falling from them. Or, more accurately, of the results of hitting the ground at the end of the fall.

However you want to describe it, when I get any distance off the ground, I experience vertigo, accompanied by freezing and clutching the closest stable object.

On our recent vacation, my husband and I completed a ropes course, including multiple zip lines. A ropes course is basically a series of elevated obstacles, ranging from 25 to 60 feet above the ground. (To put that in perspective, it’s higher than your average two-story home.)

You strap on a harness. The carabineers on that harness snap to a safety wire while you’re up on the course to keep you from plummeting to your death should you slip up while navigating an obstacle. But other than that, you’re on your own.

You might have to hop from post to post along a widely spaced path made of nothing more than wobbly poles that barely fit a single foot. You might have to balance along narrow logs suspended from ropes (and therefore swinging with every move you make). You might have to grab a rope and leap, swinging into a pirate’s net attached to a distant tree.

I wouldn’t describe a ropes course as fun for me. But this is the second one I’ve conquered, and as I was dangling from an obstacle that basically required you to traverse a series of swings, giving myself a pep talk to take that next step, I realized how much what my husband and I were doing was an excellent analogy for what a good relationship does as well.

(Yeah, I know. You know you’re a writer when…)

So here are the three lessons I learned about good relationships from braving a ropes course.

Image Credit: Leonhard-Eißnert-Park 06, Creative Commons

Image Credit: Leonhard-Eißnert-Park 06, Creative Commons

You sometimes do things that scare you or aren’t what you’d necessarily choose because those things are important to the person you love.

You might be asking why I would do a ropes course at all if I’m so afraid of heights. Well, I like to push myself so that my fears don’t control me. But, more than that, my husband loves ropes courses. I did it for him, because he wanted to.

My husband moved 600 miles and changed countries so that we could be together. It wasn’t his first choice to leave his home, but he did it because it was the best thing for us, as a couple. I’ve only been married three and a half years, but one of the things I learned early was that a relationship requires sacrifice and compromise to work. It can also require stepping out in faith.

When the person you love is weak and you’re strong, you don’t leave them behind. You encourage them, wait for them, and help them make it through safely.

My husband can fly through a ropes course. He’s fearless.

I’m so slow that twice I let other people pass me because I felt bad for holding them up.

My husband could have left me behind to pick my way through the course, but he didn’t. After each obstacle, he waited on the platform for me to catch up. At the end of a couple of zip lines, when I missed the stop rope and was going to slide backward away from the platform, he caught me and pulled me up rather than letting me struggle alone.

I’ve seen this same principle at work in my marriage and in the happy marriages of friends and family. It’s inevitable that at some point one half of a couple hits a rough patch. Maybe it’s depression. Maybe it’s a job loss that steals their confidence. Maybe it’s a life skill they never learned and are struggling to figure out. Maybe it’s a battle with an addiction.

We could give up on them. We could go try to find someone without any problems. (Good luck on that, by the way.) But what separates a good relationship from a bad one is when we stick it out, pick them up, dust them off, and help them figure out how to do better next time.

When you look back at the challenges you’ve faced, as difficult as they were at the time, you’re still glad you weathered them together.

After we finished the course, I was glad we’d gone. I have no doubt we’ll do yet another ropes course in the future. It was hard and it was scary, but that’s part of what made it an achievement.

Those of you who’ve been reading this blog long enough know some of the challenges my husband and I have faced, and those are only the ones I’ve shared. I’m sure most of you have similar stories of adversity.

Adversity is never fun at the time, but when we make it to the other side, we come out a stronger couple…with a good story to tell.

What every day experience taught you a lesson about good relationships or reminded you about what’s important in a relationship?

If you like suspense, I hope you’ll take a look at my ebook Frozen, on sale over the summer for 99 cents. Twisted sleepwalking. A frozen goldfish in a plastic bag. And a woman afraid she’s losing her grip on reality.

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Busy Writer’s Guides Come to Print

By Marcy Kennedy (@MarcyKennedy)

Since my first Busy Writer’s Guide came out, I’ve gotten one question more than any other–are these available in print?

Now, for my two most popular Busy Writer’s Guides, the answer is yes.

How to Write Dialogue and Mastering Showing and Telling in Your Fiction are now available in print. Click on the images below to buy your copy!

Mastering Showing and Telling in Your Fiction

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Write Dialogue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Five Important Lessons About Love From Disney’s Frozen

Disney's FrozenBy Marcy Kennedy (@MarcyKennedy)

As Disney’s Frozen starts, we meet two sisters who love each other. Eldest sister Elsa has magical powers that allow her to create snow and freeze things, and younger sister Anna is always begging her to build a snowman. During one of their play sessions, Elsa accidentally injures Anna.

From that moment on, Elsa isolates herself from Anna and from everyone, even after their parents die. When Elsa finally loses control and sends the kingdom into eternal winter, Anna sets out on a quest to bring her home and help her.

It’s a visually beautiful movie with amazing music, but what impressed me most were the five important lessons about love I found inside.

I can’t write this post without at least a couple of spoilers, so if you haven’t watched the movie and would be bothered by knowing what happens before you do, then I recommend you just read the bolded points.

#1 – You can’t fall in love in a day.

Anna is extremely lonely. Since the death of her parents, she’s been locked in the castle. Her older sister, Elsa, won’t allow people in, but Elsa also refuses to spend time with Anna.

When the gates are finally thrown open for Elsa’s coronation, it’s no surprise that Anna “falls in love” with the first handsome man in her age bracket that she meets (and he just happens to be a prince as well). She thinks it’s love, but she finds out in the end that it wasn’t. He didn’t love her, and she didn’t really love him either.

Many things can be mistaken for love—loneliness, pity, need, attraction, lust. When we say it was love at first sight, it was usually one of those at first sight and real love grew out of it over time.  

I loved this lesson because it reminds us that for love to be real and lasting it has to be accompanied by knowledge of the person’s personality and character. Love is about the other person. It’s not about something in us.

#2 – Everyone is a fixer upper.

When Anna’s heart is accidentally frozen by Elsa, Kristoff (the ice merchant helping Anaa find Elsa) takes Anna back to his family, thinking they can save her because of their magical powers. His family tries to match-make, and breaks out into a song about how everyone is a fixer upper.

I loved this lesson because it’s an important counterpoint to the warning against love at first sight. It’s just as dangerous to wait for the “perfect” person. There’s no such thing. Everyone has flaws. Usually big ones. In a good relationship, we work on improving ourselves together. And, sometimes, we just have to overlook the annoying parts of our partner because the good in them far outweighs the bad.

#3 – Love means letting others help you.

One of the big mistakes Elsa makes in the movie is shutting Anna out. Anna loves her and would do anything to help her. Many of the problems of the movie could have been avoided had Elsa let Anna in.

Elsa kept Anna at a distance because she was afraid of hurting her, but also out of a stubborn independence.

I know not everyone will agree with my view on this, but I loved this lesson because I believe that a good romantic relationship is a partnership. You make the important decisions together. You don’t keep secrets. You have to let go of some of your independence and allow the other person to help you when you need it. When they need it, you help them.

#4 – Love means making sacrifices.

In the final moment before her heart freezes solid, Anna has a choice to make. Run to Kristoff for true love’s kiss and save herself or throw herself between Elsa and the evil prince’s sword. Because she loves Elsa, she sacrifices herself to save her sister.

A lot of times, love is sacrifice. Love is compromise. You give up something you want to make the person you love happy. And rather than that making you unhappy or resentful, their happiness should fill you with joy. In a good relationship, they will also take their turn sacrificing for you.

#5 – Love for your family is just as important as romantic love.

Anna needed an act of true love to thaw her heart and save her. Since it was a Disney movie, you’d expect it to be a kiss, like in Snow White.

But it wasn’t.

It was Anna’s act of sacrifice, trying to save Elsa, that thawed her heart.

The importance of familial or friendship love is an often untaught lesson. We need more in our lives than just a spouse. We need friends and family to love and be loved by as well. That love is equally important.

I’d love to hear what you think. Did you see the same lessons? Do you agree or disagree with the messages in the movie?

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The Value of Online Writer’s Conferences

WANAConBy Marcy Kennedy (@MarcyKennedy)

If you were to pull out the laundry list of things writers are supposed to do to be successful, one of the items you’d be sure to find is attend writer’s conferences.

And everyone who included that on their list would be right. I wouldn’t be writing to you now if it wasn’t for the writer’s conferences I attended when I was first starting out. I gained the inspiration I needed to keep going. I learned invaluable lessons on craft and platform building. I developed the network of contacts that earned me my start as an editor.

On a lot of levels, I am where I am because of the writer’s conferences I attended in those early years.

But what’s often devalued when we talk about writer’s conferences is just how difficult it can be to actually attend one.

I probably don’t need to go over the reasons this is so, but I will anyway.

Reason #1 – Cost

The least expensive conference I’ve been to cost over $400 in registration, plus the money I spent on gas to drive the four hours round trip and the two nights in a hotel. I’ve been to conferences across the country where the registration fee was over $900, and that was without factoring in airfare and gas to reach the airport (two hours from my home).

Conferences are a major investment, which means they can be a major bone of contention if you’re married. And, sometimes, the money just isn’t there and there’s no responsible way to get it.

Reason #2 – Need to Travel

In the past I was blessed with the freedom to travel because I don’t yet have children, we were a two-car household, and my husband’s schedule was flexible enough that he could juggle the care of our home and pets while I was away.

But things are different now. With my husband back in school, we’ve gone down to a single car and he needs it seven days a week between classes and work. He has no flexibility in his schedule. Leaving our Great Dane in her crate for 12-hours straight while he’s away isn’t an option.  It’s much more difficult now for me to get away.

If you have family or job commitments that make it difficult or impossible to travel, you know that I’m talking about.

So where does that leave us?

It leaves us with the internet’s gift to writers—online training.

For the past two years, I’ve been involved as both a teacher and a student in online classes for writers and writer’s conferences. It’s been a fantastic experience that I wouldn’t trade.

Are they the same as live conferences? No way.

Are they a great solution for those of us who can’t go to live conferences? Absolutely.

And that’s why I wanted to take today’s post to tell you that WANACon is coming up on February 21-22.

WANACon is a 100% online writer’s conference. I’ve attended and presented at WANACon before, and in February I’ll be teaching a session called Putting Your Inner Editor to Work – Self-Editing for Fiction Writers.

WANACon is only $149 (but if you use the code EarlyBird by January 31 you’ll receive an additional $30 off).

Even better, WANA International is giving three lucky attendees free admission. After you sign up for WANACon, complete the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win.

Registration includes all sessions and all recordings.

Along with my class, you’ll be able to learn social media and organizational skills like Blogging for Authors from Kristen Lamb, An Introvert’s Guide to Twitter from Jami Gold, OneNote: One Solution to Organizing Your Work with Jenny Hansen, and Building an Author Website without Getting Burned with Laird Sapir.

You’ll also get lifestyle classes like Write-Amin: Eat Well, Write Better with August McLaughlin, and craft classes on Creating Compelling Characters with Shirley Jump, Backstory with Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi (of Emotion Thesaurus fame), and Writing in Deep POV with Lisa Hall-Wilson.

That’s just a sample. You can see all the presenters and class descriptions at the page I linked above.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I hope to “see” you at WANACon, but even if you’re not able to attend, I hope you’ll give online training a try at some point in the future. We all need help growing as writers, and the online training that’s now available gives us an advantage that writers in the past didn’t have.

Have you attended online training sessions before? What did you think?

Not able to attend WANACon, but still want to try out online training? On February 8th, I’m teaching a class called Mastering Showing and Telling in Your Fiction. The cost is only $45, or you can get a WANA2Fer of my class along with Lisa Hall-Wilson’s How to Write in Deep POV for only $70 (that’s $20 in savings). Click here to check out the 2Fer.

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How to Create Strong Female Characters

By Marcy Kennedy (@MarcyKennedy)

I’ve been hinting at it for months now, but the time has finally come. I’ve released the first book in my Busy Writer’s Guides series! And I’ve priced it at 99 cents.

cover

The misconceptions around what writers mean when we talk about strong female characters make them one of the most difficult character types to write well. Do we have to strip away all femininity to make a female character strong? How do we keep a strong female character likeable? If we’re writing historical fiction or science fiction or fantasy based on a historical culture, how far can we stray from the historical records when creating our female characters?

In Strong Female Characters: A Busy Writer’s Guide you’ll learn

  • what “strong female characters” means,
  • the keys to writing characters who don’t match stereotypical male or female qualities,
  • how to keep strong female characters likeable, and
  • what roles women actually played in history.

Each book in the Busy Writer’s Guide series is intended to give you enough theory so that you can understand why things work and why they don’t, but also enough examples to see how that theory looks in practice. In addition, they provide tips and exercises to help you take it to the pages of your own story with an editor’s-eye view. I call them an accelerated master’s class in a topic.

Strong Female Characters is a mini-book of approximately 4,000 words.

You can buy a copy at Amazon, Amazon.ca, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, or Smashwords. They’ll be available in more places soon :)

If you’d like to help me spread the word, I’d appreciate it if you’d share one of the tweets below or share this post on Facebook, Google+, or wherever you hang out.

3 tricks to keeping strong female characters likeable (Click to Tweet)

What do we mean by “strong female characters”? (Click to Tweet)

How to Create Strong Female Characters (Click to Tweet)

And remember to add your favorite writing hashtag when you tweet! (Suggestions: #amwriting #amediting #writetip #MyWANA)

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And don’t forget that you can receive a free copy of my guide Everything You Always Wanting to Know about Hiring a Freelance Editor by signing up for my newsletter. <–Click right there. You know you want to :)

Why Every Writer Needs to Be on Twitter

By Marcy Kennedy (@MarcyKennedy)

I’m still on my summer guest posting travels around the internet (you’ll see more posts here at the home base starting again in September), and I didn’t want you to miss my latest. This past week I visited Kristen Lamb’s blog to talk about my favorite social media site–Twitter.

Twitter often gets a bad rap by people who don’t understand it, misunderstand it as full of spam and celebrity stalkers, or don’t know how to use it to its full potential to build an author platform. When used correctly, though, Twitter can be one of the best tools for meeting new readers and increasing traffic to your blog. Not to mention, it’s fun!

Don’t believe me? Well, let me prove it to you then. I have seven reasons why I think every writer should be using Twitter.

I am also starting to plan out my WANA International classes for the next year, as well as what topics I might cover here during the remainder of 2013, so if there’s something you want me to post about or if there’s a particular subject you want me to teach a webinar on, please leave me a message in the comments below!

Four Ways Google+ Communities Help Authors Build Their Platforms

Did you know that Google+ has the second most active user base of all social media sites?

Yet one of the biggest complaints I hear about Google+ from authors is that they struggle to meet potential future readers and to get others to engage with what they’re posting.

The solution to both problems is Google+ communities.

I’m honored to be guest posting at Gene Lempp’s fantastic blog today talking about how authors can use Google+ communities to build their platforms. Please come by and join me.

For those of you who are interested, I’m also teaching a 90-minute webinar called A Crash Course in Using Google+ to Build Your Author Platform on Saturday, April 20th. Cost is $35. Even if you can’t attend live, sign up because the recording will be sent to all who register. Click here to register.

Purple by Marcy KennedyAnd don’t forget that I’m offering a copy of my suspense short story “Purple” as a thank you gift to anyone who signs up for my newsletter. My newsletter will only go out when I have news about new releases (in other words, novels, non-fiction books, and short stories), upcoming courses I’m teaching for writers, exclusive discounts for newsletter subscribers, and freebies. I expect it’ll only go out about once a month. You are not signed up for the newsletter just because you’re subscribed to this blog. To receive the newsletter, be sure to sign up below.

Twisted sleepwalking.
A frozen goldfish in a plastic bag.
And a woman afraid she’s losing her grip on reality.

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Are You Going to Watch The Hobbit?

Next week, the first installment of The Hobbit premiers in theaters.

In honor of the release, I wanted to share this beautiful instrumental compilation by The Piano Guys of Lord of the Rings music. (If you’re not subscribed to their YouTube Channel, you should be.)

Will you be watching The Hobbit in theaters or waiting until it comes out on video?

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