Diving into My First Tweet Chat: Tips for Newbies Like Me

tweetchatI just engaged in my first Twitter Chat. I’m usually a little behind the times. I don’t like to jump into anything. Instead, I prefer to stand back and watch for a while. So when it came to joining in on a tweet chat, I creeped a few first. There were times when I considered jumping in, but I held back.

To be honest, I found it a little daunting–all these people I didn’t know, multiple conversations flying through my feed at light speed. It felt a little like junior high and I’m the new kid. There’s this group of kids gathered around a bank of locker, laughing and talking. Do I just go poke my head in and say, “Hey guys, I can laugh and talk too. Here’s what I think!”

The other feeling I had can be compared to jump rope. I never could do double dutch. I never could get the timing down. So here I am, watching a tweet chat and topics are flying and I want to jump in, but then someone adds another topic just as I’m thinking through my response to the previous one. The pressure to come up with something on the fly also held me back. I’m the kind of person who likes to really think things through before I talk or type.

But, I decided it was time. No more creeping! Pull up your big girl pants and jump in there, even if that means getting all tangled in the ropes. I happened upon #k8chat last Thursday, hosted by Kate Tilton (@k8tilton). A group of writers, readers and bloggers were discussing book reviews. This was right up my alley as I’m just receiving my first reviews of Enslavement and I’m set to begin my blog tour on February 2. As I watched the conversation, the tweeters all seemed like a nice and open bunch, so I dove in.tweet chat screenshot

Here’s how it works: a moderator posts questions or topics with the chat hashtag and everyone responds. Simple as that.

Now for the tips.

  1. Search out a topic you’re interested or knowledgeable in. How? Here’s an article from Buffer.
  2. Always use the chat hashtag, otherwise your tweet won’t show up in the chat feed.
  3. Stay on topic. Think of it as a conversation with friends. If everyone’s talking about a movie they just saw, you don’t jump in and shout, “My book’s on for .99 this week. Buy it while it’s hot.” No. No. No. This is a place to make connections, not sell your stuff.
  4. Be kind. This is my rule for everything. You can disagree with others, but do it kindly. Remember, you’re making connections, not enemies.
  5. Know the etiquette. Check out: 10 Twitter Chat Etiquette Lessons.

Yes, it was a little overwhelming tracking all the conversations, but it was also fun. I connected with some new people and heard some new perspectives. I learned that some are super quick with responses, while some, like me, are not and that’s okay.

I plan to stop by #k8chat again. It conflicts every other week with my writers’ group, but I plan on being there on Thursday, February 5. For more about this chat, check out katetilton.com. Maybe I’ll see you there.

Have you participated in a Tweet Chat? Do you have any advice for or readers? Or how about a great chat to join?

 

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Enslavement (One Bright Future #1)Melinda Friesen writes novels for MG, YA and NA readers. Her first YA dystopian/sci-fi novel, Enslavement, has been met with fantastic reviews. Find it on Amazon. She is currently editing the sequel to Enslavement and querying her MG adventure fantasy, Snodgaard and the Mustache of Power. She lives in Winnipeg, MB Canada with her husband and four children.

Melinda Friesen authored Enslavement, a young adult dystopian novel, released by Rebelight Publishing. When she’s not writing, Melinda works as marketing director and acquisitions editor at Rebelight Publishing Inc.

I Love to Read Month: Celebrating Books and Writers

I-love-to-read-buttonIn Manitoba, where I live, February is “I Love to Read” month.  It’s a time when books are celebrated in schools, libraries and homes, when the benefits of reading are touted, and when readers of all ages are encouraged to hunker down with a good book during one of our coldest months.  Other regions around the globe offer their own versions of “I Love to Read” from British Columbia’s “D.E.A.R.”  (Drop Everything and Read) in April to the United States’ “Get Caught Reading” in May.  Whatever the name or month, the focus is the same – celebrating books and acknowledging the power they have to transform us.
Writers should celebrate, too.  We craft words and create the worlds that readers inhabit, and so “I Love to Read” and its close cousins are very much a tribute to those who write.  But since reading is the focus, perhaps it’s also a good time to reflect on our roots.  How and why did we become writers?  Did books influence our choices?  Does reading still influence us today?
In my case, books and reading played a huge role in shaping the writer I am now. Although I cannot recall being read to by my parents or siblings, I remember the first time a book totally transported me to another time and place. I was in grade 4.  The teacher – wise in the ways of keeping a restless group of children attentive – read a mystery novel to the class. I don’t recall the title or the author, but I remember the plot – a thrilling whodunit about a boy detective who solved a kidnap-murder case.  I hung on to every word and groaned with the rest of the class when the teacher closed the book at the end of each chapter.  Because of that experience, I became a voracious reader and the seeds of storytelling magic took root.
Read Aloud DailyWhen I became a middle grade teacher – then later a parent – I followed my grade 4 teacher’s lead. I read to my students and my own children daily. From a literacy-development point of view, I knew it was the correct thing to do.  Numerous research studies espouse the benefits of reading aloud to youngsters, even to those of high school age, but – I can admit it now – boosting reading comprehension was never my primary motive. I simply wanted for my students and children, the same experience I had myself in grade 4 – the glorious out-of-body feeling of being one with a community of others, all lost together in a gripping story that defies time and place.
I read aloud from a diverse menu. The Giver by Lois Lowry for its perspectives on society gone astray…Jesper by Carol Matas for its portrayal of moral dilemmas in wartime Europe… Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls, for a heart-searing Southern story about a boy and his two dogs, Old Dan and Little Ann…Silverwing by Kenneth Oppel so we could follow Shade, a silverwing bat, on his epic journey towards maturity.
Best Christmas pageant everNot every offering was a heavyweight.  Each year, with the approach of the holiday season, I carved time out of the busy day to read The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson– a lighthearted account of sheep and shepherds running amuck at the annual community production.  As one, we chuckled as disaster unfolded then high-fived one another later when it was averted.
Books have always played an important role in my life.  I wouldn’t be the person I am today without them.  But what about you?  What books transformed you?  How?  Why? I’d really like to know.
Other posts you might enjoy:
The Kid Inside
Say What, Mary Poppins?  Wise Words for the New Year
Making a Difference for Writers on a Shoestring Budget
Larry Verstraete (www.larryverstraete.com) is the author of 14 books for youngsters, the most recent being Missing in Paradise, his first middle grade novel. Currently he is searching for the next great idea.
For Larry Verstraete, an award-winning author of books for young people, writing is all about the journey and often the perfect writing storm occurs when high adventure, science and history converge. An advocate for literacy, Larry often visits schools and libraries to share his passion.

Writing an Amazon Review

I wrote my first Amazon book review recently.  I’m wondering if formulating reviews might not be an excellent way to keep track of the middle grade and young adult novels I’ve been reading in my attempt to try to learn as much as I can about the craft of writing for the middle years and teen age group.  Compiling a review forces me to summarize succinctly what I’ve learned from reading the novel.

Preliminary coverThe first review I wrote was for Melinda Friesen’s young adult novel Enslavement.  I was impressed with the way she didn’t make it easy for us to pigeon-hole her characters.  Even the antagonists exhibited some good qualities and the protagonists had a number of characteristics that weren’t ideal. I want to try to include characters that aren’t easily labeled as good or evil in my own writing.

Friesen also does a great job of throwing us headlong into the drama of the novel from her opening paragraph.  She reminds us how important it is for a writer to engage readers right from the first page.

Enslavement raises some great questions which would make for excellent discussion starters with teens.  Although I know a good writer shouldn’t ‘hit readers over the head’ with moral platitudes and life lessons I want my writing to provide my readers with challenging questions to think about.

Finally I think the novel would be a good fit for use in high school classes and it is meant to the be the first in a series.  Looking realistically at the market for middle grade and teen novels any aspiring writer realizes that if they want to make any kind of profit they will need to sell their book to school libraries. If their novel is a hit they will also benefit financially from writing their book in a way that makes sequels possible.

I tried to summarize all the writing lessons I got from Enslavement in my Amazon review.  Check it out for yourself to see how you think I did.

Other posts…….

Art Tours Inspired by Books

A Flood of Books

Have You Met Mark Twain

MaryLou Driedger is just beginning to write fiction and non-fiction for children after working as a teacher, newspaper columnist and free-lance journalist for thirty years. She also blogs at What Next?

 

MaryLou Driedger is a free lance writer with a long career as a newspaper columnist, curriculum writer and contributor to lifestyle, education and religious publications.

The Five Commandments of Manuscript Submission

Manuscript Submission Five Commandments (2)So you’ve finished that manuscript. You’ve popped the champagne and celebrated, and now you’re ready to move on to the next step–publication.

I‘ve said this before on Vast Imaginations, and I’ll say it again. Writing is an Art; Publishing is a business. So here’s some tips for making your art shine in the business world.

1. Thou Shalt Put on Thy Business Hat. Submitting isn’t the time for touchy feely with your agents and editors of choice. It’s time to show you’re more than just a hobbyist , that you’re a professional. You need a top notch query letter that sells your story and you as a writer, and a gripping synopsis (you might even need a couple as submission requirements differ between companies. See Commandment #4). No pink stationary. No loopy fonts. No GIFs. You wouldn’t do that on a professional curriculum vitae, would you?

2. Thou Shalt Not Submit Thy First Draft or Thy Second Draft. Some people are under the impression that you vomit your story into a Word document and send that steaming bag to a publisher or agent and the editor will take care of editing it. Wrong. This is not how it works. You want your manuscript to be as close to publishable quality as you can possibly get it. When I first started querying Enslavement, I sent out my fifth draft. After rejection after rejection, I realized the manuscript wasn’t ready. I spent the next four years on roughly 20 more drafts. It’s now published–after I bled for it.

3. Thou Shalt Do Thy Research. This covers several areas. First, You need to know your manuscript inside and out, and it is up to you to determine what its target age group is and what genre it falls under. People, we have Google. These answers are easy to come by. When you submit, you need to make it easy for the editor/agent to determine your novel’s classification. And no, it doesn’t appeal to everyone. If you don’t have a target audience, your manuscript is not ready for submission.

Second, there are hosts of people out there ready to take advantage of new writers with promises of money, publication, and fame. Do your research. Editors and Predators is great site for doing a background check on agents and editors. Use it. And as with everything else in life–if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Third, agents/editors represent/work with specific literary areas. You need to do your research and only submit to those professionals that represent your type of work. This is where knowing how to classify your novel comes in. It is a waste of your time and theirs, to submit high fantasy to someone who does not accept genre fiction. They will not say, “Oh, wow, this one is so good that I’ll make an exception.” Not going to happen.

4. Thou Shalt Read the Submission Guidelines. This seems simple, but it’s often missed. Submission packages are not one-size-fits-all. Each agent and publisher will have their own set of guidelines, ignoring them will result in a rejection. Why? If you can’t follow simple guidelines, why would they want to work with you on something as complex as a novel? Read them. Follow them. No matter how weird they sound.

5. Thou Shalt Query Widely. This is a tough business. It’s not if you get rejection, it’s when. Be prepared because they will flow in like water through a ruptured damn. The key is to keep going. Every editor/agent has different tastes, different contacts, different holes in their lists. What one hates, another may love. It’s highly subjective, so keep going until you find someone who loves your work.

By following these commandments you give your manuscript the best possible chance of acceptance.

Do you have your own set of submission commandments? If so post them in the comments to help other writers. Have a question? Post them. This is a safe place to ask and get some answers before you wade into the deep waters of publishing.

For more about the submission process see:

Top Six Reasons Why Giving Birth is More Fun Than Querying my Novel

My Submission Sabatical

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Enslavement (One Bright Future #1)Melinda Friesen writes novels for MG, YA and NA readers. Her first YA dystopian/sci-fi novel, Enslavement, has been met with fantastic reviews. Find it on Amazon. She is currently editing the sequel to Enslavement and querying her MG adventure fantasy, Snodgaard and the Mustache of Power.

Melinda Friesen authored Enslavement, a young adult dystopian novel, released by Rebelight Publishing. When she’s not writing, Melinda works as marketing director and acquisitions editor at Rebelight Publishing Inc.

Goin’ On a Blog Tour – One Traveller’s View

untitledI’m midway through my first ever blog tour. Two months ago I didn’t have a clue what a blog tour was.  Others reading this might not either, so in the interest of full disclosure let me explain.
Imagine you are going on a long road trip.  To prepare, you map out your route, plot your stops, book hotels, and pack your bags.  You load everything into the car, fuel up, gun the engine and you’re off.
A blog tour is similar, but different.  You have a route (a schedule, actually), but the stops are other people’s blog sites. Instead of a car, you travel by computer.  Rather than race along a highway, you hitch up to the Internet and travel along a virtual one where you stop at prearranged blog sites to answer questions, write guest blogs, check reviews of your book and interact with readers.
In other words, a blog tour is like a traditional book tour sans the physical demands and expense of trekking from one location to another. The purpose is the same, though – to expose the book to a wider audience and generate some marketing buzz.rebelight
My blog tour is for Missing in Paradise, a novel for middle grade readers.  Although many authors arrange their own blog tours, fortunately for me much of the grunt work for mine was done by others. Melinda Friesen, Marketing Director for my publisher, Rebelight Publishing Inc., initiated the blog tour, created a package of giveaway books to attract readers, and commissioned Chapter-by-Chapter, a blog tour firm, to coordinate it. Chapter-by-Chapter put out the word to bloggers. More than a dozen responded, each willing to give time and space on their sites to highlight the book and its author. The end result – a two week blog tour, Jan 5-19, with 15 blog stops.
Right now I have one week under my belt.  What’s it been like?  One word descriptors leap to the forefront. Interesting. Exciting. Challenging. Fun.
One of my favourite moments so far came at the start of the tour with an intriguing question asked by We Do Write blogspot:  What is the weirdest thing you’ve ever googled? Right away, I knew the answer: How to photocopy one’s butt.  Not that I’ve ever done this, but the lead characters in Missing in Paradise toy with the idea so for authenticity, I just had do the research, right?  For those with inquiring minds, the information can be found on the Internet, proving that, yes, you can google almost anything.

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If you are considering a blog tour, here are a few tips based on my experience so far:
  • Having a publicist and a firm like Chapter-by-Chapter is a real timesaver, but you can set up your own blog tour. Start early – 3 or more months ahead. Research blogs and note ones that have a wide readership and spotlight your genre – youth fiction in my case. Create a list of top blog spots, contact the bloggers, pitch your book, mention your target dates, ask if they’d like to be included and what they’d like from you – a guest blog, Q & A, excerpt for their blogsite etc. Some may want to review the book and you will need to provide a copy in that case.
  • Come up with a tour giveaway as an incentive for people to follow the tour. For my blog tour, Rebelight sponsored a draw of free print and digital copies of the book, and set Jan. 31 as the deadline for entries.
  • As much as possible, prepare ahead. Weeks in advance of my blog tour, a number of blog hosts sent Q & A’s or topics they wanted me to address so I had time to prepare responses. This freed up time during the blog tour for me to respond and interact..
  • Publicize the event on your website, Facebook, Twitter or other social media platforms. Let people know what you are doing and what giveways are being offered. During the tour post updates and notify readers about upcoming stops.
  • Dish out thanks to blog hosts, organizers and anyone connected with the tour. These people extend a courtesy so reciprocate. whenever you can. Liking or following their blogs is another way to say thank you. It expands their reach as well as your ow
My tour continues for another week. If you wish to tap into upcoming or previous stops, you can find my schedule on Chapter by Chapter’s site. Don’t forget to enter the Giveway and like or follow blogs that resonate with you.

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Thank you everyone!
Other posts you might enjoy:
Dos and Don’ts of Book Cover Design
Fact Stranger Than Fiction?  Maybe
Say What, Mary Poppins?  Wise Words for the New Year

Larry Verstraete (www.larryverstraete.com) is the author of 14 books for youngsters, the most recent being Missing in Paradise, his first middle grade novel. Currently in a lull period, he is searching for the next great idea.

For Larry Verstraete, an award-winning author of books for young people, writing is all about the journey and often the perfect writing storm occurs when high adventure, science and history converge. An advocate for literacy, Larry often visits schools and libraries to share his passion.
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