Brevity

twitter-execution

Silk’s Post #156 — Has there ever, in the long history of the written word, been a more diminishing, devaluing trend than the imposition of the 140-character tweet as the arbitrary standard for social media discourse?

Has written expression been stripped of all its depth and nuance, and reduced in the Twitterverse to simplistic word belches? Slogans. Headlines. Blurts. Clichés. Inanities masquerading as deep thoughts. Rabble rousing provocations. Nyah nyah nyah taunts. (I’m looking at you, Donald Trump).

Anything worth saying requires more than 140 characters, doesn’t it? Is the world’s written expression in danger of being reduced to captions and emoticons? Is the richness and beauty of wordcraft being abandoned by an impatient audience trained to salivate for the next thing instead of the real thing? Is the literary sky falling?

Brevity is the soul of wit has become the watchword of tweeters, bloggers, copywriters, politicians, pundits, comedians, and others who use words as their professional currency since The Bard assigned that line to Polonius in Hamlet. Was Shakespeare wrong, or was he prescient?

As is often the case, Shakespeare’s subtleties tend to get lost when cherry-picked phrases are appropriated to serve a modern purpose. A little context: these ironic lines spoken by the foolish chatterbox Polonius, who thinks himself the smartest guy in the room, couch news of Hamlet’s madness to his parents, the King and Queen, in a gust of unnecessary and self-aggrandizing claptrap which demonstrates the speaker’s inability to take his own advice on brevity:

My liege, and madam, to expostulate
What majesty should be, what duty is,
What day is day, night night, and time is time,
Were nothing but to waste night, day and time;

Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief. Your noble son is mad …

Yet, no matter how ironically delivered, the truth of the gem hidden in an almost throw-away clause lives on in proverb. And there’s good reason for that.

Brevity is hard to achieve.

Writing short is much harder than writing long. Doing it well – that is to say achieving brevity while conveying meaning, beauty, truth, in short: wit – is the hardest of all.

I have a confession to make. I used to be an advertising copywriter. I don’t mean I did it in between more noble gigs or bouts of unemployment – I did it for decades. It was my career. And if you can separate what I learned from its commercial context, the gem of truth in that experience is that writing great advertising – with its rigid, Twitter-like restrictions on length and format – is hellishly difficult.

Want to know why there’s so much truly horrible, cringe-worthy, throw-your-shoe-at-the-TV advertising? That’s why. It’s hard. Only truly talented writers – people who can understand a human desire, capture a resonant thought, and stir a genuine emotion using a minimum of powerful words and imagery – are capable of creating great ads. And these writers, as even a casual acquaintance with the media makes perfectly clear, are rare.

At the risk of turning from the ridiculous to the sublime, look at poetry as another example of the challenge – and power – of brevity. Who has ever written a haiku? I see a lot of hands going up. Anyone who’s ever taken a creative writing class, or been a bookish teenager in love, has probably written a haiku.

Now the punchline: who has ever written a good haiku? I realize it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference between a good haiku and a lame one (which should be a clue in itself). Yes, the exotic format does tend to make all haiku poems seem profound. But they’re not. Many of them are nonsense. (You can probably see by now how I’m working my way back to Twitter.)

I asked at the beginning whether the corrupting influence of tweets – essentially packaged word snacks – are killing our hunger for, and skill at preparing, full-course word meals. Are we dumbing down our communications in a way that risks dumbing down our ability to think, to use our full array of synapses to understand complex ideas and appreciate subtle nuances in written expression?

Scary question.

But maybe that’s the wrong way to look at it. More words don’t necessarily translate into more meaningful words. Maybe the existential challenge still is learning to convey more meaning using less words.

Brevity is the soul of wit – “wit” in Shakespeare’s context meaning intelligence, wisdom, perspective (with appreciation, in dramatic terms, for life as simultaneously both a tragedy and a comedy). In just 26 characters, he nails the writer’s challenge of capturing the “soul” – the essence of the conflict-laden human condition – in the most concentrated, evocative language possible.

It’s an art so difficult to truly master that it remains a rare commodity. I believe it’s a skill that needs to be cultivated and practised by all writers, whether they turn their hand to poetry, essays, short stories, novels, speeches, or, yes, even the modern vernacular of advertising and social media.

Can you write well? Good! Can you write short? If you tweet, that question answers itself.

Now try conveying a page of meaning in a single paragraph. Or a sentence. It’s fantastic mental and creative exercise. It might even turn you into a poet, and help keep the literary sky from falling.

Twist your plot. Can your characters escape?

Karalee’s Post #133

twisterOne can spend a lifetime surfing the web and hanging out on social media. I’m choosing to cut back (I can actually choose how to spend all of my time) and I’m spending those minutes that often stretch into hours being more productive by reading books and working on my new business.

But every once in awhile a gem pops out from Facebook or Twitter. It happened today when I scrolled through my FB feed and I paused on a UTube that a friend posted. For some reason I clicked on it. Thanks Randy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sBoyS4wHPTc&sns=em

This tickled my murder mystery writing funny bone. The site is called Spy Escape & Evasion and subjects like this are good to jump-start your imagination and “what if…”

A few examples from this site are:

  • airplane survival secrets
  • how to become a human lie detector
  • how to escape handcuffs
  • how to escape zip ties
  • how to pick locks
  • how to disappear
  • how to escape rope
  • stun flashlight

Of course once you become immersed in discovery and contemplating how you might use new ideas in different ways in your fiction writing, you can spend all day surfing again.

Outliers

 

The internet easily becomes a circular web, catching the curious, the bored, the procrastinators, the blocked, the (put any excuse here….). It’s easy to go back to the first line in this blog:

One can spend a lifetime surfing the web and hanging out on social media.

The trick is to break the circle, use the internet with purpose and focus – and then get off.

 

Become an Outlier.

Can you?

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Perspective Photos:

grouse ice rink

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy writing!

10 best things I learned at Surrey International Writers’ Conference

Surrey International Writers' Conference banquet

Surrey International Writers’ Conference banquet

Silk’s Post #106 — I’m still coming down from a three-day weekend up in the cloud where writers live. Sometimes that cloud is a lonely place. Sometimes it rains for weeks. Sometimes thunder and lightning make you want to crawl under your desk.

But at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference – #siwc2014 or #siwc14 – the sun is always shining when hundreds of writers and their gurus come out to play for three days every year. It rocks!

Bar time with Trish, Karalee, Silk, Joe and Chris

Bar time with Trish, Karalee, Silk, Joe and Chris

While I’ve been recovering (okay, the late nights in the bar and various social gatherings did have something to do with that), Joe has already done two excellent posts on his SIWC experience, and he only came for a day. I better get with the program.

This was my eighth SIWC. So here are a couple of fair questions:

  1. How come I keep going back – haven’t I been-there-done-that?
  2. How come I don’t have a book published by now?

First answer: I keep going back because every year I learn new stuff I need to know, and because it recharges my writing batteries, and because I’ve come to know and love the citizens of SIWC, and because it’s one of the best writers’ conferences in the world (even the big-dog presenters from New York say this).

Second answer: I don’t have a book published yet because I’m still a learner and I haven’t yet achieved a polished manuscript that’s ready to put in front of an agent or publisher. When I embarked on this second career after I wound up my design/advertising agency, I came to the party with 35 years of writing experience. I thought I’d be churning out a novel a year in no time. HAH! I must have missed the Steep Learning Curve Ahead sign when I turned onto that road. Oh, alright alright, my questionable post-retirement work habits and tendency toward procrastination does factor into it too.

That’s why I love the SIWC log line: This Day We Write! This came from a conference keynote a couple of years ago by bestselling author Robert Dugoni, who graciously let SIWC adopt it as their own. It’s the perfect rallying cry in this nebulous writers’ cloud we all live in, tucked away by ourselves most of the year, but connected to each other in a kind of virtual community.

This year at SIWC I attended one 3-hour Master Class, 4 keynotes, 3 panels, 5 workshops, 3 luncheons, 2 banquets, 1 agent pitch, 1 blue-pencil session, 1 theatrical presentation, 1 cocktail party, 1 book fair, and a late night book launch. Plus bar time.

Seriously, I really did need a day to recover.

I also took rather voluminous notes, and will share some of this rich trove in more detail in future posts, but today I want to give you my 10 top take-aways – some new things I learned, some things I thought I knew but now finally understand, and some things that just resonated with me.

1. Emotional impact trumps everything else in fiction. Story, setting, premise, characters, action, plot, voice, style, and subject are all important ingredients – but the real magic only happens if you can cause the reader to experience a powerful emotion. (Thanks to Don Maass for this insight from his Master Class “The Emotional Craft of Fiction.”)

2. To avoid obvious and clichéd emotional reactions in characters, evoke rather than report. We’ve all heard “show, don’t tell”. This is a kind of corollary. Make big emotions – the ones with a lot of gravity – like dark stars that affect everything around them without being overtly visible. (Inspiration by Don Maass, weird planetary analogy by me.)

3. A writer’s number one platform on the Internet is his/her own website. It’s the one thing in cyberspace that’s totally in your control, where you own the space and content. Think of it as the centre of your own online community. Use whatever social media and other channels you are comfortable with – and have time to keep up – to steer people to your website. (This point was driven home repeatedly by multiple social media experts, including two of the best: Sean Cranbury and Sarah Wendell.)

4. The most powerful social media tool a writer can use is (wait for it) … email. There are 3 times more email accounts than Twitter and Facebook combined. 92 per cent of adults use email, and 61 per cent of them use it every day. Email is 6 times more likely to get a click-through (to your website or blog) than a tweet, and 40 times more likely to generate new clients/relationships. (Thanks to Sarah Wendell for doing the math).

5. The 3 most important things that build your social media currency are: generosity, consistency and authenticity. Joe already mentioned this, but it’s so important that it can’t be said too many times. Social media are, first and foremost, about relationships and sharing – not marketing opportunities. Don’t be the person who only reaches out to others when you want something from them. Do more giving than receiving. If you support and share with people 90 per cent of the time, you get to talk about yourself 10 per cent of the time. What a surprise … cyber life is just like real life! (This theme was universally emphasized by experts Sarah Wendell, Sean Cranbury and Chuck Wendig in their “Social Media Smackdown” panel).

6. Characters drive story. Characters need to have agency. Active characters push the plot around, they don’t just get pushed around by the plot. Every character has to have a problem (a want) to be solved (fulfilled). In the gulf between the character’s problem and its solution is the story, which must wind its way from the problem to the solution through a minefield of complications. (While these principles have been repeated by many, in many different ways, Chuck Wendig in his “Kick-Ass Characters” workshop, brought terrific clarity and insight to these essential concepts).

7. To create tension, the writer has to walk a tightrope between withholding and revealing information to the reader. Tension occupies the space between what the writer allows the reader to know, and what the writer allows the character to know. The reader always needs to be slightly ahead of the character, which stimulates worry … but not so far ahead that the character seems slow-witted. (A great panel of suspense writers, Hallie Ephron, Robert Wiersema and Chevy Stevens illuminated this dark corner of writing in their discussion, “Tension: More Than the Edge of Your Seat”).

8. Planting questions makes readers turn pages. While this seems like the simplest and most obvious piece of advice in the writing world, it is a deliberate technique that’s hard to remember when you’re in the flow of writing, and easy to make too obvious when you strew questions around retroactively. The compelling need to know “what happens next” is the most delicious form of tension for the reader. (Another trick of the trade from the “Tension” panel).

9. Dialogue should only consist of things that need to be said, or are inherently interesting. Another seemingly obvious principle that gets wantonly violated by throwing all sorts of debris into dialogue such as backstory, pointless conversation meant to mimic “real life” and other content the author didn’t know what else to do with. (Thanks to Outlander author, Diana Gabaldon – the mistress of dialogue – for this reminder).

The one and only Jack Whyte

The one and only Jack Whyte

10. Read aloud. SIWC’s favourite Scottish icon, author Jack Whyte, is probably the best reader I’ve ever heard. With his rich baritone and dramatic flair, he can make the telephone book sound like gorgeous literature. Listening to him read the finely-crafted opening of his new book, The Guardian, at a special pre-release book launch on Saturday night, I was reminded of another excellent piece of advice that I’ve often received and always forget to do. Read your book to yourself out loud, especially key passages or dialogue that needs to be “just right” to the reader’s ear. It’s amazing how every awkward turn of phrase, bit of unnatural dialogue, misplaced word and run-on sentence will suddenly become obvious.

To wind this post up, I want to share the best word I heard at the conference, and its context:

Avoid online douchebaggery.

Writing and social media – the mysterious Twitter

Joe’s Post #113

twitterAh, Twitter. What a confusing creature you are to me.

I’ve had you explained to me a whole bunch of times, but your hashtags and retweets and quoted retweets and sorting out the good from the spam, well, it’s a lot to ask of me. To kind of quote the very wise Pooh bear, “I’m a bear of very little brain and this new tech stuff bothers me.”

But yes, I’m back to trying to understand and use Twitter. In theory, it should be a thing I love. Something quick to read. Nothing too taxing on my small brain. A few links. Even the odd picture. But no, it’s something I’m struggling with.

However, I’m taking on being a bit more active in the Twitter-verse.

Why?

I’m an idiot.

But also I want to understand it so I can increase our 5/5/5 social media presence. Even if I eventually don’t go the Twitter route, I still want to, you know, get it. I want to live in the year 2014 and not hide out in 1980 when the world was simple and rad.

So here are my challenges.

  • How to find interesting people to follow (and who’ll be interested in anything I have to say?). It’s tough to read through people’s bios and figure out if there’s a connection. Maybe that’s the wrong way to go. Maybe I need to just spam everyone.
  • brienneI don’t want this to occupy my whole time. I want this to be quick. Easy. I can’t forsake writing to be the king of Twitter. Or the court jester of Twitter. Maybe that would be my title in Game of Thrones. “Good morning, Brienne of Tarth, I am Joe of Twitter.” “Where is Twitter?” “It is nowhere and everywhere.” And then shakes her head and she stabs me with her sword.
  • I want to figure out a way to get people to read my blog via Twitter. I thought of putting ‘naked women’ in my titles but wouldn’t that just drive pervs to my feed? They’re not exactly my target audience, some of my posts to the contrary.
  • I don’t want to wake up feeling like I have to feed the beast every day. It’s a lot of work and guilt that I don’t need. But I do realize that the beast has to get fed, so I’ll kick up my game with posts.
  • I am old, and new things are tough for me to learn. Eating pie is easy. I’ve done it a ton before. But learning something new and all techie and complicated, yeah, not my favourite thing. I have to be able to overcome the inertia of doing the same-old-same-old and overcome the confusion and terror of learning something hard.

So, anyone know how to make this easier? I hear wine helps.

In other news, the journey to a new book begins, like Silk and Paula and Karalee have posted.

Here’s the new running update.

This week, call it week 1

Ordered and received a book I’m going to dissect to learn how to write my book. I won’t copy it, but I want to understand the beats and pacing better.

foylesOrdered and received Foyle’s War DVDs. I’ll be writing a story set in WW2 and I’ll be doing all kinds of research, but for me, seeing something, looking at the fine details, is the best thing I can do.

Outlines Done – 0

Pages written on New Book – 0

# of pies eaten – 1 (ok, one slice, but it was amazing)

# of new friends made on Twitter – 86

# of new friends I imagine will read my Twitter feeds – 86

# of new friends on Twitter who will likely read my posts – 3

# of times I thought about giving up writing and becoming a lion tamer – 3

Courses I’ve signed up for – 1 (wordpress)

Days to SiWC – 14

 

 

How to write when you have no time

Joe’s Post #92 —

spoonsSpoons, baby, spoons.

It’s something I heard a lot about when my wife was trying to fight cancer. It’s basically how much energy or time you have. On some days, she’d have a lot of spoons. A spoonful could be eat breakfast. Another might be Go for a 15 minute walk. I’ve heard people with Lupus use this as well.

For me it’s about time as much as energy. In About A Boy, the protagonist measures his life in 30 minute units. It’s a funny-ass book, but one that rings so true to me know.

With my new life, I have to find a spoon here and there, 30 minutes taken from something to be able to write.

If I assume a spoon is 30 minutes of time, I need to grab about 6 to able to do my blogs. I’m getting faster at doing them, finding pictures for them, solving problems that crop up and, of course, writing them. Practice may not make perfect, but it does make you faster.

Eye_of_CthulhuSo, today, wrote one blog while eating. That’s an easy multitask. I’ll give up a long walk since it’s raining like hell. That’s an easy one. That gives me about 4 spoons. I’ll be with the boys tonight so I’ll not play a game with them and get the last blog done. That should about do it.

Is my day any worse? No. I may be a bit fatter. I may miss a cool boss fight with the boys, but I’ll get my writing done. It’s all doable.

But now, what about the other things? Queries. Each one takes about 20 min, more if I have to research the writers they represent so I can say, yeah, so like I write like Shakespeare who you represent. Say 3 in an hour or 2 spoons. Learn more about social media. Say 2 spoons. Write new novel. A good 4 spoons a day. So, that’s 8 spoons or about 4 hours.

Now how the heck am I supposed to do that and get the house ready for sale, spend quality time with the boys and the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world, watch Game of Thrones, email everyone, exercise, look for a house, laundry, dishes, and research and being with friends and…

First… TV that’s crap. So, so long Survivor. Goodbye Will Ferrell movies on PVR. Adios Frontline news shows.

Then… sleep. No more sleeping 10 hours a day. 8. That’s all I can afford, (which is actually all I need). No more lying in bed. Up and attem!

It’s not like this is a tough life. It’s not. But it’s a matter of moving some things around, find a way to multitask when I can, and give up the things that are less important than me writing.

It’s what needs to be done.

Here are my latest blogs. At least one is pretty good. None have any nudity.

Traveling With Kids

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How much I think Game Of Thrones Rocks: A billion times. And if you haven’t checked this out, please do… (spoiler alert) GOT Honest Trailer

Pages Written on New Novel: 0

Outline Complete: 60% (might be 62%) I’ll get the tires kicked on it then start.

Blogs Written This Week: Lots and lots.

Queries Out this Week: 0 (only so much time)

Rejections for the Last Week: 0 (has to be bad news. I may need to move the 5 out there to 5 rejections)

Queries Still Out There: 5

How Much I Agree With Karalee’s last post: 100%  Hey look at CSI, that’s full of so much wrong stuff (I mean, seriously, lab techs doing interviews, chasing down bad guys, having perfect hair, it’s all crap.)

Hope Meter: 70/100.  Holding steady. No longer posting her on a daily basis, though.

Social media

fb

Joe’s Post #91 How much social media is too much, how little is too little?

It’s hard to figure out how much time to spend on social media. Am I building an audience or is this just narcissistic me shouting at the world to pay attention to me, dammit, pay attention?

Karalee wrote a great post about Twitter and I was lucky enough to hear her thoughts and advice on that form of connecting with people.

gotThing is, I love connecting with people and groups online. Hello, Game of Thrones fans! ‘Sup fellow writers. What’s happening, Sandra Bullock, why the restraining order, why, why, why?

But it’s like research. It can consume your writing time. Two blogs a day takes time. Adding the links to other media takes time. Making posts on Twitter, well, you get the idea.

And time is the one thing I’m short on at the moment. That and chocolate. But I can go buy chocolate, I can’t buy more time. So, if I’m to get my book started on the 14th, if I’m to finish it up in three months, AND still blog AAAAND still get queries out, and help my writing friends, and be a good parent, and a good partner, then something has to give.

It may be a bit of social media.

*****

Days Until Game of Thrones Starts: None. It was amazing. Love the Hound. Love this too, I laughed my ass off… (spoiler alert) GOT Honest Trailer

Days Until I Start My Next Novel: Date has been set. It’s April 14th. That’s, errr, next week!!!!!!!!

Blogs Written This week: 14 new ones. Maybe more. I kinda lost count.

Queries out this week: 0 (See, this obsession with social media has to stop)

Rejections for the last week: 0 (has to be bad news. I may need to move the 5 out there to 5 rejections)

Queries Still Out there: 5

Hope Meter: 70/100.  Up +20. Loving that I have a few more readers on my blog. LOVE LOVE LOVE blogging. Thanks for my fellow 5/5/5 writers for letting me go nuts on this site.

Seven ways for writers to use Twitter

Karalee’s Post #71 — I met with my fellow 5Writer Joe this week. He asked me to share what I knew about using Twitter. It’s not that I know a lot, rather my husband David Greer is a computer geek that has embraced social media of all kinds since, well, forever. He’s an early adopter and for some reason Joe feels that since I live with a geek, some of the geekiness will rub onto me.

It has in some ways and I want to share what I know about Twitter and how writers can use Twitter in an interesting and engaging way (rather than it being a complete chore) that also increases your profile and the number of potential readers for your books.

Within the last year Twitter put the brakes on the automated following and unfollowing programs many people were using to obtain literally thousands of new followers in a short period of time. I had used one of these automated programming interfaces (API’s) too and the number of followers seemed to be what everyone was after. But, to me, it didn’t make much sense since none of those “people” knew me, or me them. Thousands of tweets flew by on my timeline every day and I really didn’t know what to make of them and how they could help me with my writer’s profile in a marketing sense.

So how do I interact with all these followers, and without API’s, how do I continue to gain followers?

Talking to my geeky husband that is also a marketing expert, he enlightened me that I need to let the Twitter world know who I am on a regular basis and offer something that is interesting and useful to my followers.

How do I do that? Does that mean that I need to be more selective in who I follow? These are my helpful hints you may want to consider:

1. Find the type of people that you want to follow and that you want following you. Twitter search subjectFor writers that could be agents and authors, but it is also important to follow people that have other interests of yours such as gardening, photography, pets, etc. This encourages more potential readers for you. To find them, do a search in Twitter and look at profiles and follow people that interest you. Note: this does take time.

 

 

 

 

2. Tweet something interesting every day. Many people develop a tag for themselves such as  using a quote, sending a picture, a daily suggestion, etc. This is one way to let your followers get to know what you like or how you think, etc.

3. Twitter your own blog posts.

4. Read other people’s blogs and discover ones that interest you and are professional and well-written enough for you to want to tweet them. You can set up an automatic tweet for all the new posts from their blogs. (My geeky husband did this for me. Thanks!)

Note: you can also set it up to automatically Facebook to your friends too.

 

 

 

 

5. Reply to people that retweet and/or favorite one of your tweets. These messages are found under Twitter’s ‘Notifications.’

twitter notificationsThis is a great way to establish a relationship with individual followers. In turn it encourages them to retweet your information to their followers, which increases the potential for more followers for you, etc, etc.

 

 

 

 

 

6. Retweet your follower’s tweets that interest you. This helps to connect with your followers too and adds to the potential for new followers (refer to number 5 above). For writers this is a great way to connect with agents, and if they are using Twitter as a connection point in the social media world, they will become aware of you.

7. Take time every day or so to look at the profiles of new people following you and see if you want to follow them too. To find your new followers, look under ‘Notifications’ as in number 5 above. Also look under ‘Me’ and scroll down and have a look at ‘Who to follow’ since the Twitter app suggests people with similar interests.

To help make tweeting a habit for you, you may want to check out Becky Robinson’s blog called Weaving Influence. In her Resources section she has a book to help you increase your Twitter traffic and it is also available on Amazon.

Product Details

Becky works with authors and leaders to increase their online influence and promote their books too.

Happy tweeting!

 

Unravelling technology… Or just unravelling?

Paula’ s Post #36 — Coming to you live from my ‘Unravelling Technology’ seminar in beautiful Indian Wells California. A beautiful venue… a sumptuous free breakfast… A movie star handsome, high-energy presenter … All at the right price:

Free!

How cool!

Like it or not, being tech savvy is so incredibly important, for writers, for professionals for everyone.

So … I’m not posting today, I’m learning, juggling my iPad and iPhone, simultaneously taking notes and blogging.

So, I promise to post more next week … this week, I’m too busy getting tips on posting.

In the meantime, you may enjoy this:

Check out this video on YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAx845QaOck&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Finding interesting blogs

West Coast SymphonyKaralee’s Post #22 — Like a symphony playing, an author needs to meld the plot with its characters and setting to create a book that entertains or informs its readers. Research is necessary during this process as well as reaching out for input from others. I’ve gradually come to realize that social media can be helpful in this respect.

I’ve been consciously using Twitter more over the last month with surprising results. Not only has my following increased (thanks @beckyrbnsn for your help), but I’ve also come across blogs with great information about writing, leadership or medical and forensic stuff that I’m interested in.

And that is the purpose of Twitter – to connect people with like interests and share information.

And it works.

I’d like to share a few blog sites that I’ve found interesting.

  1. http://www.heidigranthalvorson.com/p/about-heidi.html?m=1 (copied from her blog) Heidi Grant Halvorson is a social psychologist who researches, writes, and speaks about the science of motivation.  She is currently Associate Director of the Motivation Science Center at the Columbia Business School. Heidi is also an expert blogger for99uFast CompanyWSJ.comForbesThe Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, as well as a regular contributor to the BBC World Service’s Business Daily, the Harvard Business Reviewand SmartBrief’s SmartBlog on Leadership.
  2. http://www.marcandangel.com/  @marcandangel (copied from blog) Here at “Marc and Angel Hack Life” we enjoy sharing practical thoughts on a broad range of topics pertaining to life, hacks, productivity, aspirations, health, work, tech and general self-improvement. We promise you will not find a regurgitation of someone else’s point of view on our site. Regardless of the topic at hand, these views are our own.
  3. http://janefriedman.com/  @JaneFriedman (copied from blog) Jane Friedman is the web editor for the Virginia Quarterly Review, a literary journal that has won more National Magazine Awards than any quarterly magazine in the nation.Jane has more than a decade of hands-on experience in using new media and technology to engage and grow both online and offline communities. Her expertise has been featured by NPR’s Morning Edition, Publishers Weekly, Reddit, GalleyCat, IBPA Independent, and PBS, among many others, and she has consulted with organizations such as the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund in San Francisco.An active blogger for more than a decade, Jane’s current blog was named one of the Top 10 Blogs for Writers in 2011-2012. Her presence on Twitter (170,000+ followers) is often cited as a model for those seeking to use social media effectively.
  4. http://www.livewritethrive.com/  @LiveWriteThrive CS Lakin is an author and editor. She has published books in Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy and YA Sci-Fi.(copied from blog) I’m a novelist, a copyeditor, a writing coach, a mom, a backpacker, and a whole bunch of other things.I teach workshops on the writing craft at writers’ conferences and retreats. If your writers’ group would like to have me teach drop me a line. I live in California, near San Francisco, just so you know how far away I am from you and your writer friends. I also enjoy guest blogging, so contact me if you’d like me to write a post on writing, editing, or Labrador retrievers (just threw that in there; I’m not an expert but I love them).
  5. http://writetodone.com/ (copied from blog) My name is Mary Jaksch. In July 2008 I became Chief Editor of Write to Done.Write to Done is a place where we can all grow as writers. It’s a place to share some of what we’ve learned as writers, with new (and experienced) writers looking to improve their craft and their art. That’s what Write To Done is about, at its core: the craft and the art of writing
  6. http://jamigold.com/blog/  @JamiGold Paranormal author and blogger. Blog topics include: Recipe for a Successful Synopsis; Self-publishing: Prioritizing Fast, Cheap, and Good; Do You Judge Books by Their Covers?
  7. http://www.thecreativepenn.com/  Thoughts on Writing, Publishing and Book Marketing by Joanna Penn (copied from blog) I’m an author, internet entrepreneur and international speakerbased in London, England.. I spent 13 years as a business IT consultant in large corporates across the globe before becoming a fulltime author-entrepreneur in September 2011
  8. http://www.kmweiland.com/index.php @KMWeiland
    KM Weiland’s blog is about ‘Helping Writers become Authors.’ She has great information on topics such as backstory, beginnings, characters, conflict, dialogue and more.

Now comes trying to balance between time spent on social media sites reading blogs and such, writing on our 5Writers blog, and being productive in my mystery/thriller writing.

How do you balance your time?

Do you want to be branded?

London underground posterKaralee’s post #18 — A friend sent me this picture a couple of days ago. I had a great laugh and then I started thinking about why it was so funny even though the historical events really are quite tragic.

For most of us this picture evokes the events in our minds. The caption is humorous only because we are familiar with what happened. And, because we already know the story, all we need is a picture to recall it in its entirety. Now that is truly magical.

It’s a kind of branding, like Nike, Apple computers,  Starbucks, Mercedes, or Dole.

So, I wonder, can a writer be branded? You bet. Author names evoke their stories. Take Steven King, J.K. Rowling, Anne McCaffrey, PD James, Dick Francis… In fact, any author that a reader likes can be a “brand” to that reader. The mere mention of the author’s name can conjure up one or many of their stories.

Or, if not by  the author’s name, a character’s name can also bring to mind one or many of their stories. Take Sherlock Holmes, Miss Marple, Harry Potter, etc.

Therefore, in the book world, there is more than one way to become known. It could be by your author name or by your character’s names (or both). Either way, the story has to be special to the reader in order for the reader to want to remember it.

And then of course, there is marketing. In today’s world marketing through social media seems to be an expectation even before one’s book is published. Blogging and twittering is becoming important. So as writers, not only do we have to have great stories and characters, we also have to be connected to our potential readership.

Well known authorsIf you are a writer you may want to ask yourself, are you becoming connected in preparation for publishing?

And on that note I’m cutting this short this week because our deadline is looming. And not one of the 5Writer’s can become a brand name without a story to tell.

I must admit, my story has fallen behind my timeline. No excuses. I’ve been doing work that needs to be done by putting in necessary hours on personal issues. My past is plaguing me and causing some havoc in my present, but I’m working through it. I need to. I am getting quite excited about my story, but with personal issues getting in the way of clear thinking, it is difficult for me to keep all the plot-lines lined up!

I will get to an end point, albeit a skeletal thin one. Not intended as a New Year Resolution to lose a few pounds like many of us make. That said, with good bones, the flesh can be added quickly, like eating chocolate &/or pies for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Happy writing.