Category Archives: Blogging

Going with the burn-out flow

IMG_1851About a year and a half ago, I realized I was experiencing social networking burn-out. It just got worse and worse.

I referred to my own blog about this problem, and tried the tips I’d written myself: Avoiding blog burn-out.

I tried more tricks:

Trim the blogs I subscribe to

Don’t blog as much

Don’t get on social networking so much

When on social networking, don’t spend as much time there

I exercised more. Made more art. Stepped outside. Read more. Socialized more.

Nothing helped. I was still burned out, and I couldn’t kick it.

And then, after a recent phone conversation with Elizabeth H. Cottrell of Heartspoken– to discuss my burn-out – it finally occurred to me (can you say, “Duh”?).

My life changed about a year and a half ago, and my energies were being funneled into new and challenging activities.

I started a new job in the summer of 2014. Learning a new job (with about an hour of training from the previous gal) took a toll. I love the job, but it can be exhausting.

I started going to a university class, fall 2014. It was only one class a semester, but it was a lot of work.

Then, the summer of 2015, I started tap dance lessons (yes, at 57 y.o.). Tap was always something I wanted to do, and now I’m doing it.

And this semester I’ll be taking two classes at Minot State University, so I’ll have even less time to social network and blog.IMG_1846

While Elizabeth did give me some great ideas for a new direction for my blog, I’ll tell you right now – I won’t be blogging as much. And I won’t be feeling guilty about it.

I have new priorities, so I took a look at blogging and realized it’s just not a huge priority now. While I will blog occasionally, I just won’t be popping up in your feed as much as I did before.

 

 

Photos by me from Lake Metigoshe, Summer, 2015.

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Filed under Blogging, Personal Articles, Social Networking

21 Steps to Twitter Love, by J. J. Brown

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Elizabeth and JJ at Word Sharks Conference

From Karen…

Back in June, I met with long-time online friends in Newark, DE, for the first-ever Word Sharks Conference. In attendance – J.J. Brown, Elizabeth Cottrell, Pamela Wight, Jessica Pettengill Messinger, and Barbara Forte Abate.

Since then, we have stayed in touch sharing blogs we like, having book discussions, and sharing other resources and insights.

Out of one of those conversations came some fantastic insight into Twitter by J.J. Brown. She shared her philosophy and advice on how she uses Twitter. I thought it was so good, I called “dibs” on sharing it in a blog.

Welcome, J.J.!

* * *

Article by J. J. Brown

I love twitter because it is a free and open conversation that’s so fast-moving. Twitter is quite famous for NOT being a place to sell books or much of anything else. So, I don’t have advice about how to use twitter to sell books.

Being active on twitter is a wonderful way to meet writers and readers, and exchange thoughts on the writing process and story ideas, as well as inspiration. And once in a while I get a tweet asking to review a book of mine, or to be interviewed on a blog, or submit a post for a website, or a story to an anthology, which is fun.

I can’t count the many interesting people I’ve met and shared views with on twitter, and sometimes later in-person as friends (none of whom were creepy).

21 rules I apply loosely, depending on how much time I have are:

How to tweet:

  • Be interesting and super brief; don’t repeat identical tweets.
  • Talk about yourself and the books you’ve written, but not ALL of the time, just sometimes.
  • Post provocative things about writing, about your books, and the news – things people react to.
  • Share other writers, artists, and thinkers works, at a good ratio. Tweeting 5 of others’ things then 1 of yours works well.
  • Use a photo in your original tweet so more people will see it. This magnifies your reach because more people look at pictures than words, even on twitter.
  • Tweet quotes from famous authors or artists who inspire you, just to share the joy.
  • After you tweet something original or important, stay on a few minutes to respond to any replies.
  • Retweet things others post that you think need a broader audience because they’re great, funny, or important.
  • Say something insightful about any link you share on twitter, don’t just hit the Tweet button though it’s tempting.

How to interact:

  • When someone tweets your work or retweets you, thank them via direct message (which is private) or tweet (which is public).
  • When people react to you, tweet back like a conversation. It hurts to be ignored there like in any conversation.
  • Never argue on twitter. Yes, sometimes a person will be mean to you. Ignore them. Praise, or add a new thought, or brood away silently.
  • Use #amwriting (for insights, personal progress) #amreading (for reviews) and other hashtags to enter writer’s conversations, then respond when people join your thought stream.
  • Follow people who follow, retweet, or comment to you, IF you’re interested in their twitter feed.
  • Don’t follow people who offer to buy twitter followers or increase your reach. That is kind of spammy messy stuff I don’t get into at all.
  • Seduce people you’re most interested in on twitter, tastefully, by retweeting and commenting on their tweets.
  • Think of the new contacts as friends and connections, not followers or fans.

How not to drown in the twitter stream:

  • Don’t look at your live stream, it’s a jungle in a thunderstorm.
  • Make lists of groups like writers, editors, publishers, artists to organize your new friends.
  • Do look at your lists’ tweets, your favorite people’s tweets, and any hashtags trending on that day that stimulate you.
  • Keep an eye on the clock. I limit my twitter socializing to about 30 minutes on a free day, 10 minutes on a busy one.

I hope this is helpful. I started on twitter about three years ago, when I started publishing books. At first, I was baffled. Now I love it. But I keep it to short doses. And only log on when I’m in a pretty good mood.

***

JJ BROWNJennifer J. Brown, PhD, is an editor at EverydayHealth.com by day, and writer of books and short stories by night. She completed a PhD in genetics and worked as a research scientist for 20 years before turning to writing. In her fiction writing, she is obsessed with exploring death and the meaning of dreams. Published author of seven books as J.J. Brown, she was born in the Catskill Mountains of New York and lives in New York City.

Find out more about J.J. Brown’s book news at her author website.

Death and the Dream. Short storiesDeathandDreamCover

Vector A Modern Love Story. Novel9780983821137

The Doctor’s Dreams. Novella

Stream and Shale. Coloring bookStreamandShaleFrontCoverFinal

J.J.’s Facebook author page

Twitter 

 

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Filed under Blogging, Branding & Platform, Guest Writers & Bloggers, Social Networking

I’m experiencing a little Romance

RU_visitingprofessor

No, not that kind. Had you going there for a second, huh?

Today I have a guest blog as a visiting professor over at Romance University with Editing and Proofreading Tidbits.

I feel rather proud of this one – Romance University was named in the 2013 and 2014 101 Best Websites for Writers by Writer’s Digest and in the 2014 100 Best Websites for Writers by The Write Life. 

Come join me over at Romance University!

 

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Filed under Blogging, Editing & Proofreading, My Guest Posts

Dragon books give-a-way winner, with Shawn MacKenzie

red-dragon[1]The winner of last week’s Dragon books give-a-way…

Sue Heavenrich

Congratulations, Sue!

Shawn MacKenzie will contact you to arrange delivery of

Dragons for Beginners and The Dragon Keeper’s Handbook.

Sue’s blog

You might like some of Sue’s science posts on her blog Archimedes’ Notebook – “hands-on science exploration for children and their parents.”

From Sue’s blog…

Things to Do in FallIMG_0799

plant daffodils and lilies

watch maples turn red

collect acorns

pick apples

find glow-in-the-dark mushrooms

plant garlic

follow woolly bear caterpillars

map monarch migration

star gaze

make leaf printsIMG_0813

hunt for insect galls

do bark rubbings

walk like a fox

make a nature wreath

collect flower seeds

make a compost pile

rake leaves into a pile and jump in

collect every color of leaf

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Filed under Blogging, Special Events

Writing about writing blog tour

shark2 - CopyAs part of the Writing About Writing blog tour, I’d like to introduce Esther Miller and Deb Hockenberry.

***

Esther Miller blogs about her travels around the country and about moments that have changed her life in some way. See her blog On The Road Again.

Esther has worked professionally in special education and mental health and has had a variety of volunteer jobs. Gardening, cooking, and ham radio are among her many interests. She married and raised her family in California, then lived in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia for nearly 14 years. She recently returned to California to be near family.

 ***

Deb Hockenberry blogs about anything “kid.” Her blogs include personal experiences as a child wanting to write, book reviews of children’s books, and author interviews. See her website Kidztales here.

Deb has always wanted to write for children since she was a child herself. She loved making up and telling stories to her siblings and the neighborhood kids. She belongs to The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Deb has also taken two courses from The Institute of Children’s Literature and is taking an ongoing course in writing for children from The CBI Clubhouse. Each year, she looks forward to attending The Muse Online Writer’s Conference, or as she calls it, MuseCon.

Deb currently resides in the beautiful mountains of Central Pennsylvania. At any time of the year, these mountains are a sight to behold. In the autumn, the hillsides are dotted with red, gold, yellow, and orange. In her spare time, she enjoys knitting, crocheting, music, movies, and gardening.

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Filed under Blogging, Guest Writers & Bloggers

Writing about writing blog tour

shark2 - CopyThis post is part of a blog tour Elizabeth H. Cottrell invited me to participate in. Elizabeth’s blog tour invitation originated at Sor’a Garrett’s The Shine Connection blog.

You can see Elizabeth’s Writing About Writing blog at Heartspoken here.

This week, I’ll answer the blog tour questions. Next week, I’ll introduce you to two bloggers who will answer the same questions.

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on learning a new, full-time job. I am also enrolled as a new student at Minot State University. Those two things have consumed me over the last few months.

In between the exhaustion of all that, I’m working on a non-fiction, Word Shark book as well as collections of poetry, historical fiction, and horror and experimental fiction. And, I blog.

How does your work differ from others in the same genre?

Every writer has an original voice. I just write in my voice and hope that it appeals to others. At times I try to write with humor, even with the horror. When blogging, I try to share my experience and my thoughts, some advice, what I’ve learned along the writing way.

Why do you write what you write?

I write poetry because I enjoy that muse. I write horror to kill my demons (and my ex-husbands) and because I love the genre, when done well. I write historical fiction because those stories should not be forgotten. Many of my historical short stories are based on genealogical research I’ve conducted on my family. And I write a blog because I enjoy that outlet – and to share my experiences and thoughts. On the blog, I occasionally share my poetry and short stories.

Describe your writing process.

I have no process. I write when I have the time and the energy. Lately, I don’t have much energy (new job!). I don’t have a schedule, nor do I try to force a writing schedule.

I write. I let it sit. I look at it again. I rewrite. I let it sit. I look at it again and rewrite. I let it sit (lots of sitting here!).

I have decided to insert a new aspect to my process – that of asking a handful of beta readers to read through my bigger projects before they are sent to my editor.

Speaking of editorsoriginal[1]

One of the most important steps I do take in my process is hiring a high-quality editor. I won’t publish without Shawn MacKenzie.

Stay tuned – next week I’ll introduce you to two blogger/writers who will answer the same questions.

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Filed under Blogging

How to play well (and blog well) with others

DSC01656I’ve recently had a few lame come-ons in my email – “I’d love to provide content for your wonderful blog. I love your blog. Would you like to have interesting content for your blog?”

Read on and you will see why I am not impressed by this generic query.

I’ve also received a few emails from other writers, editors, and proofreaders – “How do I query another blogger to be a guest?” “How do I find guests for my blog?”

Previously, I posted these blogs as a series – My guest blog guidelines, Hosting a guest blogger, How to query another blogger, and Being a guest on another blog. Today, I’m posting them all together.

My guidelines

If you are interested in creating your own blog guidelines, click here to see my guidelines.

Hosting a guestKenton and boys

Hosting a guest blogger can be a rewarding experience. I learn, I find new friends, and I expand my reader base and exposure. Variety is the blogger’s spice of life. And it’s fun!

Guidelines – I explain these are not hard-n-fast rules, simply guidelines. I like to enable my guests to use their imagination, their own voice, and their sense of humor.

Reach out – I don’t wait around for people to invite themselves to guest blog. I go after people I find interesting. Reach out. Expand your horizons!

Background check – Before I invite someone to be a guest, I check out their blog, website, Twitter, Facebook… Do the same background check if a blogger approaches you. Is this someone you want on your blog?

Posting date clarity – In correspondence with a prospective blog guest, my deadline was vague. The guest blogger thought I wanted her article in February (because earlier I mentioned Valentine’s Day), and I was talking about November!

DSC01197Deadline – Give the guest a specific deadline. S.P.E.L.L. it out clearly. “I need your submission in my inbox on or before January 22.”

Wiggle room – I normally set deadlines at least a week before the scheduled day. Don’t rely on last minute submissions. What if you plan on posting a blog on Tuesday afternoon and you still don’t have it Tuesday morning?

Back-up plan – What if your guest doesn’t follow through? Have a couple of your own draft blog articles simmering on the back burner for these emergencies.

Guest bio – I like to provide a bio and links for my guest’s online pages. So, in addition to the article, I ask for a 1) bio 2) profile picture 3) URLs for their social networking.

Maintain control – Indicate (in your guidelines and in conversations) that if you feel their article is not appropriate for your blog you won’t publish it or you might require edits.

Read the submission – Be sure to read the submission as soon as you get it; don’t wait until posting day. Is it well written and free of typos? Do the links work? If you feel it needs to be edited, send it back to the writer or advise her that you will edit. Be clear about what you feel needs to be edited.

Just say no – I hate to do this, but I’ve had to say, “No, thank you.” If the guest has broken one of your critical guidelines, ask the guest to edit or tell them you feel it’s not appropriate for your blog.

Learn to say yes! – I have broken out of my blogging box on numerous occasions. A few times, I have read a submission and think, “Eh, not really my cup o tea.” But I sit on it, give it a half day or so, read it again, and consider it on its merits.

Blogging love – If I have a guest, I ask that they share the link on their blog and/or their Facebook, Twitter, Fan Page.

Think big picture – Nearly every time I’ve had a guest blogger, I see an increase in my comments, and I occasionally get a couple new subscribers.

DSC01384The query

Before the query – Say for instance you find a way-cool blog. You like a post or two and think, “I’d love to be a guest on this blog!” Before you query…

Guidelines? – If the blogger has guidelines, read them. Follow them.

Research – Read a bunch of the blogger’s posts, including posts made by guest bloggers. I suggest at least a dozen. What is that blogger’s focus? How are the posts presented? How are guests presented?

Where to send query – If the blogger wants you to send queries via an online contact form, use it. If the blogger wants you to send it to his email, use the email.

Form letters – Ick. Don’t do it. Most experienced bloggers can spot a form letter query from a mile away.

A blah query – “I’m a blogger, and I want to guest blog for you! I love your blog.” Blah and blech. Be sincere, not spammy.

A brilliant query – 1) Mentions a couple of the blogger’s posts and why you liked them. 2) Mentions one or two of the blogs in her blog roll. 3) Mentions the blogger’s book (if applicable). 4) Mentions what you’d like to blog about 5) Provides a brief preview.image (13)

Pace yourself – Don’t send out 50 queries on the same day – you might just get 50 “Yes, I’d like to have you on my blog” and then you’re scrambling to write 50 blogs at quantum-leap speed.

No, thank you – You send your query. You think it’s stellar! The blogger turns you down. It’s his blog, his decision. Remember, it might be timing. Make a note to query this blogger at a later date.

Temper, temper – If the blogger turns you down, don’t blast him on FB or Twitter. Send a basic thank you and let it go.

Resubmit – Try again in a few months. Consider subscribing to the target blog and leaving a comment on occasion.

Your guest post Kenton washing car

Your blog host accepts your blog idea and gives you a deadline. You are scheduled to be a guest on another blog. Fabulous! Don’t simply drive in, drop the article, and drive away.

Now the work begins. Make it shine!

Deadline – Your host tells you, “Please have your submission to me by January 15.” Make sure it’s in her inbox by that date. Better if you have it to her before the deadline.

Dress up – Don’t send a slopped-together article. Clean it from top to bottom. Wipe the glass. Scrub the tires.

Check the mirror – Proofread, edit for clarity, adhere to word count, include all the information your host asked for. In addition to the article, your host asks for your bio, a profile picture, and your URLs. Don’t make her come back and beg you for them. Submit these as attachments to the submission email.

The extras

BIO – Your host asks for a 50-word bio. Don’t send a two-page resume and expect her to edit.

PIC – A profile picture – Have one. Have a recognizable profile photo, not you amongst 37 cousins at your last family reunion.

URLs – I keep all my URLs in a list, so I don’t have to retype them every time.

Kenton and ShawnPost Day

Share and promote – Make a post on your own blog that directs subscribers to your host’s blog. Go to the host’s blog page and click all the buttons to share it, tweet it, Facebook it, etc.

Socialize – Visit the host’s blog over the next few days and look for comments. Respond to comments. Be nice. Don’t embarrass your host.

A dud – It your guest post is successful, great! If not, don’t go off pouting or FBing “Why isn’t anyone commenting on my guest post?!” You posted it to your blog, FB, Twitter, and so on. Let it sit for a day. Then consider posting it to your Facebook again.

Send a thank you – Even when I thought Laura’s 10th birthday party was a dud, my mom made me send a thank you note. It’s the right thing to do. Send a thank you to your host.

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Filed under Blogging, Guest Writers & Bloggers, Social Networking