Monday, January 29, 2018

Superhero Research, A Helping Hand, 5 Links, a Mom Moment, and #TheIWSG on Instagram

BTW - I'm sick today, so I may be slow at re-visiting and commenting. I had this post on "auto-schedule" before I realized I was under the weather.

Earlier this month, I realized that The Greenling Chronicles is just one giant mess and I needed to take charge, sort it out, tweak it, and re-plot my course. After reading through all of it, making notes, and creating a new plan, I realized that I'm going to have to throw out half the scenes I wrote last year for book 1 to make everything work the way I really want it to.


I stopped working for a few days a week and thought over that course of action several times. It's the right one. I just don't want to kill those misdirected darlings. But, I have to do it and I know it. Agh.

To find solace and to "plan" better, I "researched" the superhero genre by watching superhero movies and taking notes on them. I liked these movies before I started taking notes, but now, I'm super-impressed by the writing, directing, and editing. Yes, the acting is superb, too, but the way the scenes flow from one to another in Avengers is amazing.

For example: Pepper mentions to Colson that she needs a ride to the airport at the end of one of the beginning scenes,  and this is followed by a scene with a fighter jet rocketing along with Captain America and Colson on board. Every scene change in the movie is preceded by some hint - visual, audible, or dialogue - of what is coming next. It creates a seamless feel for the whole movie, despite jumping between various places and characters.

I am writing a multiple viewpoint book (three main characters), and I definitely want to create a seamless feel between viewpoint and scene jumps. So, I'm studying how this is done and hoping to recreate it in my writing.

How do you handle scene and character transitions? Have you ever researched superheroes or watched movies to help with your storytelling craft?

In the middle of my sulk-fest/solace-after-the-painful-breakthrough, I received an e-mail from a writer I met with a few times during NaNoWriMo. We don't know each other well, but she invited me to come write with her weekly at the library. We'll each be just sitting there writing, like we did during NaNoWriMo, but being asked to write with someone buoyed my spirits. So, I decided to invite another writing friend to join us. Hopefully, our group will grow and continue. For now, I'm just thankful for the helping hand - another author reaching out to invite me to write with her at a scheduled time and place.

Have you ever offered or been offered a helping hand? 

5 Links I Found Helpful Last Week:
Stripping Down My Prose: Risking the Removal of Adjectives 
4 Ways to Launch a Scene 
Power and Responsibility: Doing Philosophy with Superheroes (an Edx course)
5 Incredible Tales of Human Kindness
Everything You Need to Know About E-book Publishing Platforms

Mom Moment: My oldest daughter turned 19 and received a USB grant for her own small experiment within the lab she's been working in as an assistant since last fall. Since I stopped taking science classes so early that even my younger daughter has already surpassed me, I can't really explain the details of my older daughter's experiment even though I proofread the grant proposal. It has to do with bio-cement. Her small experiment comes under the umbrella of research being done in the lab by grad students and she'll still be working as an assistant when she's not working on her own research. She gets to present her research in April at a symposium, but she doesn't want me to make a big deal of it. My response: Are you kidding me, kid? I took hundreds of pictures of you when you slept as a baby and now I'm not supposed to get excited about this? Even the grad students and everyone in the lab applauded you when it was announced. I'm struggling not to shout from the rooftops.

Last ... check out the main plan for #writerwednesdays for #theiwsg on Instagram in February:

Also, we'll be posting some #motivationMonday posts! 

Monday, January 22, 2018

5 Tips for Using Instagram with help from YA Experts

An attempt to be an artistic photographer by me, 
something that might generate the following comments:

"No, mom, don't post that!" 

"Mom, you're posting too often. People will stop following you."

"Mom! What did I tell you about posting too often? No one likes that."

"Mom, really? That's two posts in less than 24 hours. Just don't do it."

"You probably didn't get many likes because you posted too often, or because you posted at the wrong time of day."

"Why did you post this picture? Just why? It doesn't even match your feed."

These are all real quotes from my in-house YA Instagram experts. These aren't even half of the advice I've received, but merely the comments I've heard the most often.

From these quotes, you might imagine that my daughters are: a)somewhat snarky* b)opinionated c)regular Instagram users who follow current trends d) all of the above.

The answer is D: all of the above. See * at the end.

Five Tips for Using Instagram from In-House and Online Experts:

1.  DO NOT post more than once a day. DO post at least once a week. 
My daughters both feel that Instagram "stars" like dancers, authors, book reviewers, and professional organizations should not post more than three times a week and that once a week is best. Individuals might get away with posting each day or once a month, if they are only using Instagram as a social outlet and not for any professional purpose.
Lifewire and other articles I read agreed with not posting more than once a day, but stated that posting every other day to five days a week had good results.

2. Post at specific times for the best results.
According to one article I read, posting between 5-6 pm on Wednesdays had the best results, but posting before work/school and after work/school on any weekday had decent results. I've noticed that consistency is best, no matter what time of day you post. I follow an editor who always posts in the mornings, and she has a great following on Instagram. So, to gain followers, consistency at specific times is good. I have a tendency to post randomly so I can't say I'm an expert at this, ever.

3. The subject matter in your feed makes a difference. 

Choose five main areas of your life to share with your Instagram followers. Mention these in your tiny bio space and rotate through pictures of those areas of your life with your post content. This keeps your feed familiar but different enough to keep your followers' interest alive. Some experts say that posting "behind the scenes" random moments of your day can work, too, but I know from my daughters and their friends that a chaotic feed will lose their interest unless they know you from their personal life outside of social media.
So, for instance, my bio and my feed were a bit chaotic, so I just organized it into these five main categories: family, outdoors, writing, reading, and life-adventures. You might notice that some of these categories are broad because I still have a tendency towards randomness. (Again, I'm not an expert, just trying to learn along with everyone else.)

YA writers: do not post too many pictures of your kids. Teen readers don't like their parents posting too many pictures of them on social media and so they often don't like seeing an author do the same to their kids.

Selfies are also considered "out" by many teens unless they are used for a purpose: a new author photo, a special event, an interest in fashion, demonstrating dance or yoga or active movement, or to show a hobby.

Keep pictures of your book to a minimum unless you just released a new one in the last month or you've won an award. YA Instagram users will stop following, even if you post your book with the outdoors, travel photos, your cat, and your dog.

Amateur photos are okay to expected. Just don't post "live" from an event without double-checking your grammar and the image you are using. I have messed up that way, much to my chagrin. Also, keep "live" posts to just one in 24 hours. That's tough if the "next" photo is "even better." The Instagram stories section is a better place for those photos.

Users will check your overall feed to see the themes of your posts. Check your feed for posts that don't fit your themes and consider cleaning out some old photos.

4. Use hashtags wisely. 
Hashtags are seen as both useful and annoying. It all depends on how we use them, where we use them, and when we use them.
Use hashtags to alert groups of group-based posts and to alert all Instagram users of the subject matter of your posts.
Hashtags are best used in the end of a post statement, after you've written a little about your image or video post.
Use only one to five hashtags per post. If you feel you need more than five, then keep those kinds of mega-hashtag posts to once a week.
#theiwsg #amwriting #writing #writersofinstagram

5. Keep it colorful, active, and interesting.
These three adjectives may seem as clear as mud, but consider the fact that Instagram is a visual place and many users are young adults. Followers like to see an array of colors or tasteful black and white photos. Wordy posts can work for writing challenges, but regular followers may fade away if we post those too often. Active posts show the outdoors and/or activities of any kind (from rock-climbing to embroidery). Interesting is the toughest word here. What interests us? That's what we need to think about. Stay true to your own interests and you'll find followers of similar interests.

Bonus: If you've already broken all of these rules (I know I have), just note that these tips are for the "best"way of posting. Who knows, maybe you and I, rule-breakers, will have our own rule-breaker following?

Pictures of the outdoors, of cats and dogs, all animals, world travel, and inspirational horizons will always have their place on social media. But, your posts need to be yours. Cityscapes can also be popular, if you would rather post pics of skyscrapers than mountains.

Why do YA Instagram experts matter? While Instagram is making waves in multiple generations of social media users, the YA crowd used Instagram first. They use it more often than Facebook and Twitter because those sites have been taken over by their parents, grandparents, and politics. They also use Snapchat, but don't ask me about that one. I really don't know, yet.

Articles I read before I posted this:
7 Tips for Using Instagram for Business May 2017
10 Instagram Tips for Beginners January 2018
26 Instagram Tricks You Can't Afford to Miss May 2017
14 Tips for Getting More Followers on Instagram updated May 2016
How to Post on Instagram Like a Pro May 2017

BTW - My daughters and some of their friends follow me on Instagram so I often get instantaneous feedback from them verbally or via text. Sometimes, I take their advice and sometimes, I ignore it. I'm just stubborn that way.

*My oldest daughter and I are considering writing a book together entitled: 15 Ways NOT to Have a Successful Conversation With Young Adults. (Don't worry, we made each other laugh through 15 different conversational faux pas all based on real life experiences.)

Do you use Instagram? Are you a YA writer? Do you get tips for social media from young adults you know? See anything huge that I missed? (If so, please add it in the comment section.)

#TheIWSG is on Instagram, and although I'm admittedly no expert, I am the admin there. We're having #WriterWednesday Post Challenges and in February, I'll start posting regular #MotivationMonday photos. In March, I plan to add in some #FridayFiction Prompts and hold some hint fiction writing contests - winners or notable entries to be featured every other week on Fridays.
 Insecure Writer's Support Group on Instagram

If you are on Instagram and would like to see #TheIWSG take on a daily challenge for a month, or every month, please let me know in the comment section. I'm willing to come up with daily challenges, but I know from past experiences that I never seem to keep up with those kinds of challenges on my Instagram feed.

And, if you are really in need a of a humorous post about active versus passive voice, go here: Can you add by dinosaurs? I found this post when prepping for teaching today.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Greenling Chronicles Update, Tick Tock Cover Reveal, MLK Day, and #IWSGPit

As previously mentioned in December, I'm knee deep in a long project these days: the rough draft of an entire series entitled The Greenling Chronicles. I say knee deep because I still feel like I'm getting into the series, discovering more about each of the characters as I write and develop their character arcs.

One new twist to the series: it will be from multiple viewpoints.
Originally, I meant to share the story all from Dunnie's point of view, but I realized I really want to write from Aria's and Ray's perspectives, the villain's perspective, and one other character's perspective (who I can't name or describe without giving something away at this point because I'm mucking about in the process).

I also realized that one of my writing strengths is switching viewpoints and one of my weaknesses is attempting to keep everything in one point of view for more than 100,000 words. I'm well beyond that point now with two book drafts and five bulky outlines with rough scenes taking shape.

Because of this decision, I'm reworking my first novel and making changes to the second to make sure that all of the viewpoint characters are introduced and have viewpoint page-time in books one and two.

Tiny character introductions will appear here on my blog in the coming months. For starters, here's a short blurb for the main character:

Dunnie aka Duncan Kuari McCloud is a Greenling. He can control plant-life and possibly more. He has made mistakes with his power in the past and he is an outcast at middle school, but he's determined to change and use his powers for something good.

To read the original flash fiction story which inspired this super-powered project, you can find it for free at any Smashwords supported location.
Smashwords  iTunes Nook Kobo 


The clock is ticking...

Can a dead child’s cross-stitch pendant find a missing nun? Is revenge possible in just 48 minutes? Can a killer be stopped before the rescuers are engulfed by a city ablaze? Who killed what the tide brought in? Can a soliloquizing gumshoe stay out of jail?

Exploring the facets of time, eleven authors delve into mysteries and crimes that linger in both dark corners and plain sight.Featuring the talents of Gwen Gardner, Rebecca M. Douglas, Tara Tyler, S. R. Betler, C.D. Gallant-King, Jemi Fraiser, J. R. Ferguson, Yolanda Renée, C. Lee McKenzie, Christine Clemetson, and Mary Aalgaard.

Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these eleven tales will take you on a thrilling ride into jeopardy and secrecy. Trail along, find the clues, and stay out of danger. Time is wasting...

Instead of listening to soundbites, check out what Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. really said in his "I Have a Dream" speech.

And if you've heard that one already today, check out some of his other speeches on youtube. There are many and they are worth a listen.

If I had something ready, I would definitely enter it into the Insecure Writer Support Group's Pitch Contest on Thursday, the 18th! Here are the details:

Create a Twitter-length pitch for your completed and polished manuscript and leave room for genre, age, and the hashtag. On January 18, Tweet your pitch. If your pitch receives a favorite/heart from a publisher/agent check their submission guidelines and send your requested query.

Many writers have seen their books published from a Twitter pitch - it’s a quick and easy way to put your manuscript in front of publishers and agents.


Writers may send out 1 Twitter pitch every hour per manuscript.

Publishers/Agents will favorite/heart pitches they are interested in. Publishers can either Tweet basic submission guidelines or direct writers to their submission guidelines. (Writers, please do not favorite/heart pitches.)

No images allowed in pitches.

Pitches must include GENRE/AGE and the hashtag #IWSGPit.

#C - children’s
#MG - middle grade
#YA - young adult
#NA - new adult
#A - adult
#AD - adventure
#CF - Christian fiction
#CO - contemporary
#F - fantasy
#H - horror
#HI - historical
#LF - literary fiction
#MCT - mystery/crime/thriller
#ME - memoir
#NF - non-fiction
#PB - picture book
#PN - paranormal
#R - romance
#SF - sci-fi
#WF - women's fiction

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Impossible or I'm Possible?

My apologies for any faux pas I have made in the last week. (There are always some, but this week they seemed to multiply.)

First, if I haven't visited back yet from IWSG, I will be making the rounds in the next three days. We had Influenza A in our house, the real deal with fever, chills, etc. I either had it before anyone else and didn't realize, or I'm walking around like a ticking time bomb. Thankfully, everyone seems to be on the mend.

I wanted to revisit my goals from last week to explain (my hubs thought the "Impossible" part needed more explanation) and to encourage everyone to join the IWSG instagram Writer Wednesday Challenges.

Here's my personal post for today:

If you have an instagram account and want to join in on photo or post challenges, please go here:
IWSG on instagram.

Here's the Challenges for the month, followed by the IWSG post for today:

More details about #IWSGPit may be found here. 

Next week: 5 Tips for Using Instagram (advice from in-house YA experts)

Oh, and I just discovered I had six hint fiction stories published at Nail Polish Stories yesterday!
Go here for five minutes of reading material (mine are near the end and will take one minute to read.)

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

#TheIWSG January 2018, Winners, Instagram, Flaming Crimes

The Insecure Writer's Group is a place for writers to share their writer insecurities or tips and to encourage one another. Led by Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh and many administrators, the blog hop this month is also co-hosted by: 

New Year, New Ideas, One Hope
Last year, I had a list of resolutions a mile long. Hyperbole aside, I did have a list of writing resolutions, life resolutions, goals, and ideas that went for three pages on my laptop. I think I pared it down to a mere 15 items that I shared here on my blog at the beginning of 2017.
This year, I'm sticking with a pair of guiding ideas:
1. Six Impossible Ideas Before Breakfast.
2. Hope
All goals, plans, ideas fall under those two and I'm keeping most of them in the "idea" and "plan" stage instead of "resolutions or else" type stage. 
1. Six Impossible Ideas Before Breakfast stands for all writing, drafting, planning, world-building, and creative thinking. 2018 is my year for mucking about in the process of my projects. I'm working on the foundations for projects with all the brick-laying, cement-mixing, mud, and dirt mess that foundation work requires. 
2. Hope stands for my one hope in God. I've gone back and forth here at my blog, trying not to over-state my faith, trying not to under-state it, but the reality is my faith defines me. I am nothing without my hope in Christ. Hope carried me through some tough times in 2017. 
Hope is my cornerstone.

IWSG Question: What steps have you taken or plan to take to put a schedule in place for your writing and publishing?

I have specific word count goals for each day of the week (fewer on weekends) and I plan to write from 8:30-10 each morning Tuesday through Friday, unless I'm substitute teaching. If substituting, I plan to write from 3:45-4:45 Monday through Friday. (I'll write during that time every Monday). 
I have a phone reminder for each day and it's on my calendar for both times. 

Drum Roll .....................................................................
The Winners for the IWSG Mystery Anthology Are:

A Stich in Crime – Gwen Gardner  
Until Release  - Jemi Fraiser
The Tide Waits – Rebecca M. Douglas
Center Lane - Christine Clemetson
One More Minute – Mary Aalgaard
Three O’Clock Execution - S. R. Betler
The Little Girl in the Bayou - J. R. Ferguson
Cypress, Like the Tree - Yolanda Renée
Gussy Saint and the Case of the Missing Coed - C.D. Gallant-King
Special Mention:
Heartless – C. Lee McKenzie

#TheIWSG is on Instagram and I'm the new administrator for it! It's exciting, heady, and ... well, a tiny bit of volunteer work, but I'm ready to instagram on #TheIWSG Writing Wednesdays. Are you?
Come join us here: #TheIWSG on instagram or TheIWSGinsta.

Don’t forget to mark your calendar for the next IWSG Twitter Pitch Party – Thursday, January 18!

With hundreds of agents and publishers, this one will be ten times bigger than our first event.

Prompt: What is something ridiculous you would save if there was a fire?
Ridiculous is the keyword there. After your family, pets, and important items are safe and sound, what is the one odd thing you'd want to grab from your home?

Ridiculous? My Eeyore Mug. It's a sixteen ounce mug I bought at Disneyland circa 2004. It is my favorite mug, along with a Tinkerbell one I bought at the same time. These mugs have stood the test of homeschooling, writing, late nights, early mornings, and even car trips. Eeyore and I both have a bit of a problem with seeing the glass half full, but the mug helps me remember to look up.

The Wild Rose Press
BLURB: Beth and Donovan are now happily married,
and what Beth wants more than anything is a baby.
Her dream of starting a family is put on hold as
fires burn dangerously close
and Donovan becomes a victim of sabotage.

Their lives may just go up in flames…

About the Author: Chrys Fey is the author of the Disaster Crimes Series, a unique concept blending romance, crimes, and disasters. She’s partnered with the Insecure Writer’s Support Group and runs their Goodreads book club. She’s also an editor for Dancing Lemur Press.
Author Links: Website / Blog / Goodreads
Facebook / Twitter / Amazon

What are your guiding ideas/goals for this year? Are you ready to instagram with IWSG? What ridiculous item might you grab in a fire?