Friday, April 18, 2014

Promo Friday: Working On Twitter

Okay, I've done a little more snooping about Twitter.

Basics


I'm not going to do any "First, choose a name" things because you can find that all over the place. Agent Molly Jaffa does that in The Writer's Guide to Rocking It on Twitter, reprinted at Backspace. She does a little something extra by suggesting appropriate tweet material for writers--your writing and, additionally, your reading.

Then What About Followers?


Pragmaticmom (who I sort of know through Google+, not Twitter) has an interesting post, Twitter Tips and How I Got 55,000 Followers. Mia has a great deal of information here, but the point that really popped for me was the one about following and unfollowing people to increase your followers. Scroll down to the comments, and at the end you'll see I asked why to unfollow. Well, Twitter only allows you to follow so many people at a time. So you unfollow those who don't follow you back so you can follow others.

I think you have to consider what your goal is for Twitter. I originally joined for content, so whether or not people were following me back wasn't that great an issue. I was more concerned with cluttering my stream with content I wasn't interested in, keeping me from getting to the stuff I was. But rereading Mia's information about finding an audience niche and following hashtags has made me reconsider what I'm doing there.

Speaking of Hashtags


My understanding of hashtags is that they can increase your reach beyond your followers because anyone who is interested in the topic/hashtag you've added could end up finding your tweet in their stream. Feel free to correct me on that, readers.

You can find lists of hashtags related to various fields. Twitter Hashtags for Authors and Book Marketing Pros is one of them.

How Much Am I Liking Tweeting?

 

Ehh. I don't dislike it. I can even get into quickly sharing an article I've enjoyed reading. But I'm finding learning how to best use Twitter a little time consuming.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Environmental Book Club

Check out Literacy, Families and Learning's Literature and Environmental Issues: 18 Challenging Picture Books. The blog breaks the eighteen titles into four groups:
  • The relationship of people to the environment
  • The negative impact of humanity on the environment
  • A celebration of the environment, its beauty and wonder
  • Environment as creation and the metaphysical experience of our world
Graeme Base makes the list twice. There's also one by Lynne Cherry who I think used to live in my town, though I wouldn't want to swear to it.
_____________________

Make your comment in order to be considered for the Saving the Planet & Stuff giveaway.



Wednesday, April 16, 2014

An Earth Day Gift--"Saving the Planet & Stuff"

As I announced earlier this month, I'll be offering a free copy of the eBook edition of Saving the Planet & Stuff for Earth Day, which is next Tuesday, April 22. How do you get a chance to win? Leave a comment on any of my blog posts today through next Tuesday. We'll compile all the names and Computer Guy will use a program he created to randomly select a winner. You're welcome to comment as many days as you like, but we're only going to be counting you once.

The winner will be announced and notified next Wednesday, April 23. That just happens to be World Book Night, so we'll be celebrating two events at once.

Saving the Planet is available for Kindle, Nook, and Kobo.

"Sixteen-year-old ­Michael agrees to intern for an environmental magazine, The Earth’s Wife, and finds himself in over his head in politics—of both the environmental and the office kind. This eco-comedy contrasts the radical idealism of the 1960s with twenty-first-century “me-ism.”" That's how Saving the Planet is described on a list of science-themed books at the ALA website.

Wondering why I'm asking for comments instead of including one of those Rafflecopter things? Well, I rarely do giveaways here, so I decided that making the effort to learn how to use Rafflecopter wasn't a good use of my time. Besides, am I the only person who finds them less than attractive?

Let the comments begin.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Time Management Tuesday: Using Units To Get Through Panic

Work is piling up, as it often does.
  • It will be time soon to pull May's Connecticut Children's Literature Calendar together.
  • I have some more Saving the Planet/Earth Day promotion to do this month, and it's coming up soon. Tomorrow for some of it, in fact.
  • I've been working on an essay I'd like to finish, and then I should be looking for markets to submit it to. (I have a couple in mind, so I'm not writing this thing blind.)
  • Speaking of submitting, I've been working on submissions for weeks. What about that?
  • Last weekend I realized that another May Days opportunity is coming up and that I have a two-fer project I'd like to work on then, one that involves producing new work and time management. I need to do some prep for that, if I want to make any real progress. 
  • World Book Night is next week, and I have to pick up the books I'm giving out. I think there may have been a glitch in the order, and I've been hunting for e-mails related to it today.
  • In June, I'll be speaking on Ethan Allen at the Ethan Allen Homestead in Burlington, Vermont, and I want to start bringing myself up to speed on that starting in May. We're taking a long weekend up north for that, so I'll have to find us a place to stay soon.
  • I have Computer Guy working on some logos for Original Content, and I need to do something about starting to use them.

Then a few days ago I remembered that Easter is next Sunday, a holiday I try to observe with a family event. In addition to all the work that entails, I've been having trouble getting a count on the number of people who will be here. Oh, I'm also supposed to be planning a multi-week trip for September.

That's when I started to panic about time. It was the pile on of personal work onto work work that did it. During this mini-crisis I started thinking about Charles Finch's point about amateur writers spreading themselves too thin. Pick some things to work on, Gail, and stick with them.

And, better yet, give them some units of time when they have you all to themselves.
  • I'll start using evening units for the CCLC next week. There's a whole week and a half after Easter. Huzzah!
  • Tomorrow a unit will be devoted to getting the Saving the Planet & Stuff giveaway started for Earth Day. Before the weekend, another unit will be used to go over again what I have to do to lower the  STP&S price for next week and deciding when this weekend I should do it.
  • The essay I've been working on for over a month I've been writing in sprints. It's quite far along, and by giving it some forty-five minute units over the next week, I should be able to finish it by the end of the month easily. And maybe spend some time determining the best submission plan. 
  • That submission project is pretty much done, too. I just have to wait, which I can easily do while working on something else.
  • I used a couple of units of time yesterday prepping for May Days. I just have to do something on it as many days as I can. Some reading is involved, and I might be able to work on that on weekends.
  • I'm stopping at the bookstore to try to pick up my World Book Night books on my way home from tai chi tonight. (No special trip out.) I may find that there are no books, in which case, this is done!!!
  • The Ethan Allen talk can wait until into next month. Once I have some of these other things done, assigning it units will be easier. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.
  • Logos--That's not critical. Yeah. Let's save that for next week at the earliest.
  • And Easter, well, you don't want to hear about that. But that's started.
The old unit system helps with panic because it at least makes you feel that you've broken an overwhelming job into doing bits. In addition, planning units is a lot like creating objectives to meet a goal.

In this case, the goal is getting through the next week.

And now, if you will excuse me, I just took a break and am about to start another work unit. This one will involve that May Days project I want to get ready for.

Monday, April 14, 2014

An Adult/Children's Book Mash-up

I have been a fan of Flavia de Luce, the eleven-year-old protagonist of a series of adult mysteries set in England in the 1950s, for a long time. I've also wondered why she hasn't received more attention from the YA world. Her most recent adventure, The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches, isn't my favorite, but it is a great example of why Flavia, created by Alan Bradley, is such an incredible combination of adult and even children's fiction elements.

Flavia has an incredibly unique, sharp voice, and she's extremely knowledgeable about a sophisticated subject, chemistry. While she jumps on her bike and has the kinds of adventures that are the stuff of children's books, that voice that adult readers love so much might not be acceptable to child readers. Adults like her because a child shouldn't sound like she does or do the things she does. Child readers might just find her unbelievable. Adults don't care about believing her. Adults like that this brilliant child knows nothing about sex. In this most recent book, she thought she could use her massive knowledge of science to bring someone back from the dead. It was a childish belief that adult readers would find touching. Child readers, on the other hand, might not get that this attempt on Flavia's part was more about character than plot.

I also suspect that Flavia isn't an entirely reliable narrator when it comes to her family. She perceives her sisters as hating her, but they have routinely come through for her over the course of the series. And in this volume it's clear that she hasn't understood her father's behavior toward her. I'm not aware of a lot of unreliable narrators in children's books or even YA.

In all these books a mom has been missing--a classic children's book situation. In The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches, we get an actual dead parent. Children's literature is littered with those. What is really fascinating about Vaulted Arches, though, is that here we get a child suddenly learning that her family has a special function and that she is chosen--not those others--to be part of it. This is a cliche of children's fantasy, and there is almost a whiff of fantasy about Flavia at that point.

So what have we got here? While these definitely aren't children's books, do they have enough children's elements to bring young readers into the world of adult reading? 

Alex Waugh of The Children's War has also been writing about Flavia.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Weekend Writer: Charles Finch And The Differences Between Professional And Amateur Writers

Since the Weekend Writer began as a sort of training opportunity for beginning writers, I thought it would be appropriate to discuss Charles Finch's guest post, The 5 Differences Between Professional And Amateur Novelists, at Writer's Digest. Finch is the author of the Charles Lenox mysteries (I've read at least two of them), making him a professional.

Finch explains his points in greater detail, but basically he argues that the amateur and professional writers differ regarding tools, patience, focus, habits, and practice. Tools, patience, and focus are of most interest to me.

  • Tools: Professionals are interested in nitty gritty aspects of process.  Amateurs haven't gotten to that point yet.
  • Patience: Amateurs suffer from what has become known as the "rush to publish." Professionals have had the experience of recognizing problems in a manuscript after it has sat for a while. They want to find and fix those problems, not publish them.
  • Focus: Amateur writers often don't focus, spreading themselves too thin over an array of projects.
Today's lesson, then, is:
  1. Create a process and pay attention to it
  2. Accept that writing requires time, then take the time to do it
  3. Stay on task. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

"Before There Was Georgia Nicholson, Before There Was Bridget Jones, There Was Adrian Mole By Sue Townsend"

To mark the passing of writer Sue Townsend, I am republishing a couple of Original Content posts about her fantastic creation, Adrian Mole. The first post below was the second one I wrote for this blog.

March 7, 2002  Speaking of Bridget Jones...


...as we were yesterday, gives me an opportunity to bring up two Bridgetish YA books I'm fond of.

Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison was compared to Bridget at the time it came out because, well, it's the funny diary of a British female. The big difference is that Georgia, the main character, is a teenager. Thus, being self-absorbed is much more normal for her than it is for Bridget, who is thirty if she's a day. Boyfriend and clothing problems get old fast with adults. Get a life, Bridget. But boyfriends and clothes are a more significant part of a teenager's world. Georgia never wears out her welcome, the way Bridget does.

The Adrian Mole Diaries by Sue Townsend contains two books originally published in the late 1980s/early 90s. The first book begins on New Year's Day with a list. Sound familiar? So does Bridget. The books are supposed to have been wildly popular in England. Sound familiar? So was Bridget. But, remember, Adrian was first. Hmmm. In addition to having a teenage main character, the Adrian Mole books are also deeper than Bridget. Adrian comments on what was going on in England at the time. High unemployment and immigration, for instance. That's social commentary, which holds a reader's interest a whole lot better than "Oh, how many cigarettes have I had today? That can't be good."

A question: Were the Adrian Mole books originally published as children's books?

June 13, 2006 Your First BAFAB Recommendation


I want to make my Buy A Friend A Book Week recommendations YA books that aged ones can also enjoy. My first two choices, sadly, are out of print. That's okay, though, because this book may even be better.

Before there was Georgia Nicholson, before there was Bridget Jones, there was Adrian Mole by Sue Townsend. And his adventures, taken together as The Adrian Mole Diaries are available for young and old alike to enjoy.

Adrian is supposed to have been huge in England back in his day, and Helen Fielding has admitted to being influenced. So you could call him the boy who launched the chicklit journal craze. He is, however, significantly deeper than his female followers, though still very funny. I have been a fan since discovering him in a local middle school library.

Quite honestly, I don't know if this book was originally published as YA or if it is being promoted as YA now. It deserves to be better known in this country and could easily be a cross-over book. So go out and buy it for a teenager or adult you know. 



Thursday, April 10, 2014

Environmental Book Club

The Nature Generation announced its shortlist for the 2014 Green Earth Book Awards. The award is given to books that "best convey the environmental stewardship message to youth" and "inspire children to grow a deeper appreciation, respect, and responsibility for their natural environment."

Winners will be announced on Earth Day.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Two Stories In One Book

Scarlet is the second book in the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, which began with Cinder, a book I was very taken with. Cinder is a futuristic cyberpunk take on Cinderella. Scarlet kind of does the same thing with Red Riding Hood.

I say "kind of" because this is still Cinder's story, and for a long time Scarlet had her own story that was barely connected with Cinder's. Readers swing between the two storylines. Scarlet's is a very traditional woman attracted to a bad guy stranger and getting him to help her with a quest tale. Cinder's story is the traditional royalty in disguise, birthright stolen from her thing. But I'm already committed to Cinder because of Cinder, so I liked her part of the book better.

Oh, look! The next book in this series, Cress, has already been published. And, gasp, there are short story prequels for this series. So much to read.


Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Time Management Tuesday: Procrastination In Our Genes? Shoot.

Did you read Procrastination Is In Your Genes at CNN Health and everywhere else on the Internet today? Did you even see it? Not to worry. I did.

A recent study (using those favorite study subjects, twins) "concluded that procrastination can indeed be genetic, and that it seems to have some genetic overlap with impulsivity." We've covered here at OC the impact of lack of impulse control on self-discipline. Yeah, it leads us to choose to chase after shiny stories about celebrities who haven't aged well instead of knocking off a thousand words a day. And that sounds a lot like procrastination.

The CNN article makes two interesting points. Impulsiveness gave the people of the past who possessed it an evolutionary advantage, presumably because those who could impulsively take off when they saw a wild animal coming for them had the best chance of getting away. Procrastination, the article says, "may be more of a modern phenomenon, since we now focus on long-term goals..."

We can focus on long-term goals because basic survival isn't as big an issue as it was centuries ago. Long-term goals are a luxury of a modern day life that doesn't require racing from wild beasts or rushing to get our share of food from a limited pool of the stuff. But most of us are descended from people who were impulsive, which is why they survived to reproduce. We don't need to run from wild beasts on a daily basis, so we use our impulsiveness to grab at Internet stories, home improvement shows, baking projects, shopping, and whatever else our hearts desire.

Writers, by the way, are modern people who particularly need to focus on long-term goals. But we're as likely as anyone else to have inherited impulsiveness from our ancestors. Check out your relatives to see if anyone else in your family has an impulsiveness/procrastination thing going on. If it looks as if it's in your genes, turn to  The Procrastinator's Digest for help.