Deadly Ever After

Archive for the tag “authors”

Twitter for Authors

I hear authors say it all the time.

I have no idea what to do with Twitter.

But still, they’re there, because everyone else is. And as a result, they share mostly promo posts.

This is not how to Twitter.

Would you operate heavy machinery without reading the instructions? No. I hear you—Kristen, stop being dramatic. Twitter is not heavy machinery. I disagree. If it’s so important to your author platform that you simply must be there, that sounds pretty heavy to me.

In order to make Twitter an effective tool in your platform, treat it as the social network it’s meant to be.

Think about Twitter like the cocktail party that your friend invited you to. She’s the only one there that you know. Since she’s the host, she’s busy. You’re left standing by your onesies at the hors d’ oeuvres table shoveling cheese in your mouth like it’s the last supper. And you’re probably drinking way too much wine. I see you. *clinks your glass*

Awkward as, right? You have two choices—you can sneak out and hope no one notices, and salvage the night once you get home binge watching Outlander with your cat, or you can make the most of it and talk to people.

You already put the effort into showing up. Make the most of it.

awkward

First, you need to talk to people you don’t know. At the twitter cocktail party, the easiest way to do this is by following people that not only look interesting, but will probably answer and follow you back. For me, that meant other authors. You can find people by using hashtags. #amwriting is the biggie. You can narrow that down even further, to #amwritingromance or whatever your genre is. #amediting will also lead you to writer folk. Pay attention to what they have to say. If you have something to add, tweet at them. If you want your whole twitter universe to see your reply, put a “.” Before their name.

As you start to gain followers, you want them to get to know you. We’re back to the party. If you were making small talk with someone who migrated over to the snack table, would you spend the whole conversation hitting them over the head with a sales pitch? Hell no. They’d excuse themselves and get as far away from you as they humanly could. No amount of snacks is worth listening to that all night. Instead, you’d make small talk—about the party, what you have in common, you know the drill. I don’t have to teach you how to make friends.

elaine dancing

I think of Twitter as the Seinfeld of social media. Small, in the moment observations are gold. After all, you only have 140 characters to express yourself. Want to make friends on Twitter? Talk about coffee. Seriously, coffee is the lifeblood of Twitter. Talk about the little things that happen in your everyday life.

Like….

how to use twitter for book promotion

how to use twitter for book promotion

I didn’t mean for these to both contain F bombs, but whatever.

 

 

Don’t overload these with hashtags. I used a couple, but it was more for humor than anything else. Hashtag abusers look like that guy who has to give this business card to everyone in the room. They’re best used tastefully.

Now, look around the room at my imaginary party. Say the friend who invited you to this soiree is a writer. Who else is there? Probably a lot of other writers. Maybe a few industry people. In my experience, that’s who hangs out on Twitter. Not a lot of readers. I hear you again—Kristen, if there aren’t any readers at this big Twitter party you’re making me go to, why the hell am I bothering with this?

Simple. The same reason you go to any work event. You’re networking. I’ve met some of my best writing friends on Twitter. Twitter is a great place to talk about craft and the writing process, find people to sprint with you, read blogs about writing and the business of writing, and keep up with trends in the industry. There’s #writeclub, which is writing sprints all day Friday, facilitated by people all over the world. #1linewed, hosted by @rwakissofdeath, where they give a word and you post a line from your work in progress that includes that word. Looking for an agent or a publisher? Follow @brendadrake. She runs query contests and builds some pretty great writer communities.

Twitter is awesome for current events. If I need to know what’s going on with a news story RFN, I go to Twitter before I’d ever check CNN. The Oscars? The Superbowl? Sharknado? The live tweeting of these events is nothing short of epic. Follow the hashtag, join in the conversation, and laugh your ass off all night long.

And like a cocktail party, it’s okay to get tipsy on Twitter. A little drunk tweeting never hurt anyone.

Okay—so now this Twitter party is fun. You know everyone here, and you’re beyond making small talk. It’s easy to add people to your conversation and network, because they’re friends of friends. You’re sharing funny, interesting stuff. It’s not so painful anymore. You might not make excuses about why you can’t go next time. You might even start liking it.

Now you can do some promo.

Yeah

Why now? Because now people will care. You won’t just be one of those guys who stands out in front of the apartment complex with the sign—buy now! Deals here! Blah Blah! Or even worse, one of those sales people who puts you into a near-hostage situation when you’re walking through the mall, minding your own business…that’s if you actually still go to the mall. Now you’re someone cool, smart, and funny—dare I say—a friend who has this really amazing book coming out. Now people will click on the links to check it out and share it, and maybe, maybe even buy it.

They’re not buying just a book. They’re buying you. As corny as it sounds, it’s true. Twitter isn’t as static as Facebook or some other platforms, and things move and disappear fast. It’s easy to be forgettable there unless you make people remember you.

People who hang out on Twitter are very particular about what they want to see in their timeline. You can’t treat it like Facebook. Hardcore Twitterazzi throw holy water at Facebook. They make proclamations like those X amount of days since a workplace accident signs about how long they’ve avoided Facebook. And they loathe drive-by promo posts. They will mute the fuck out of you. Or worse, unfollow you. Then you’re just talking to yourself. Which is worse than not being there at all.

So go forth and tweet. But like at any good party, tweet responsibly.

 

 

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What I Read When I Write by the Magnificent Jen Lillis

TODAY’S BREW: It’s Mother’s Day. WHATEVER I DAMN PLEASE.

 By Julie

Jen Lillis is the most unique person I’ve ever met on Twitter. Let that sink in. She sent me stinky vintage cookbooks from a basement complete with her own personal notes. So that’s impossible to top. Want to know what else she’s reading and how it helps her write? WELL HERE GOES.

This was a great idea for a blog series (though honestly, it’s Julie, so I’d have participated even if the topic was METAPHORICALLY COMPARE YOUR NEW BOOK TO THE ZONING LAWS OF YOUR HOME STATE).
I’m so grateful to the books I read during the drafting process. All of them–even the ones I don’t connect with–either teach me something, yank me out of a funk, or help me solve a problem in my WIP.
This one’s been a bear. So I’ve been reading a lot.
My latest YA novel (still untitled) is narrated by Barrie: pop-music obsessive, dogged optimist, and super-ambitious singer-songwriter. Her number-one goal is to win an American Idol-type reality competition called Pop University–but when she’s booted off early in favor of a devious neo-folk chick with tons of natural talent, she comes up with an…ah, unusual Plan B for achieving her dream.
Here are the books that have helped me the most while I spin this weird little story:

Joan Bauer, Squashed

If you’re writing a snarky, cynical YA heroine, there’s no shortage of strong narrators you can turn to for voicespiration. If you’re writing a wildly ambitious optimist, literary role models are harder to come by. I dug deep in my vintage YA archive, bypassing a 7th Heaven novelization called Winter Ball, and decided to revisit this gem from 1992. Joan Bauer proves that goodhearted, glass-half-full narrators can still be goddamn funny, and so many of her books are master classes in writing offbeat heroines with big ambitions. She takes goals that could be perceived as silly–growing a giant pumpkin, for example–and infuses them with gravity and urgency. That’s just what I’m trying to do with Barrie, and I hope I can pull it off as well as Bauer does.

Peter Shaffer, Amadeus
Since I started this book, I’ve been joking that it’s like Amadeus with female singer-songwriters. So I picked up the play again–hadn’t read it since college–and took another tour of Salieri’s jealous heart. Barrie is in kind of a similar position: a musician with noble goals who’s toiled and sacrificed for a shot at greatness, and then gets effortlessly upstaged by a true natural. (The music is probably better in Amadeus. I’m trying.)
David Levithan, Hold Me Closer
It’s tough to write a book about music. If you describe something visual well enough, your reader can see it; if you describe food, readers can almost taste it based on past experience. But it’s harder to make readers “feel” a song they haven’t heard before–even if you quote lyrics, you’re still giving them a skeleton without flesh and blood.
I’ve been looking for good, innovative examples of how to communicate the power of song within a novel, and Hold Me Closer is a book that’s kind of emboldened me. It’s a novel in the form of a musical script, and the story unfolds in the lyrics and sharp, funny stage directions. I’m not sure it completely works, but it definitely opened my mind to creative new ways of weaving music into a narrative and illuminating its significance to a character. Tiny Cooper isn’t just in love with music–he’s practically made of music. That’s what I’m trying to get across with Barrie, and I hope readers will feel that.
A.S. King, Ask the Passengers
This is my first f/f romance, so I’m turning to a master for inspiration. I’d be thrilled if my book turned out half as good as an A.S. King; she’s one of the best YA authors around. Her MC talks to planes and Socrates and it’s awesome instead of annoying. LIKE HOW DOES THAT EVEN HAPPEN.
June Foley, It’s No Crush, I’m In Love
jen lillis post
the FABULOUS, 1982-tastic cover of one of the books I mentioned (photographed in its natural habitat on my vintage YA bookshelf
I have an unreasonable amount of love for this severely underrated treasure from 1982. Describing this book does it a disservice, because it sounds like the B plot of an old Who’s the Boss? episode (young teen girl nurses massive unrequited crush on hot English teacher), but the odd-couple friendship between reserved main character Annie and the candid, uproarious Susanna Siegelbaum is more than worth the price of admission. I reread parts of this every time I need to write snappy banter between my two MCs. It’s my aspirational blueprint. (Seriously, this book is so charming–if you ever see it at a library or garage sale, pick it up. It should have won all the prizes, including Best Cover Mustache.)
Bob Stanley, Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!: The Story of Pop Music from Bill Haley to Beyonce 
My two MCs are really well versed in the history of pop music, though they approach it from different angles. So to fill the gaps in my own knowledge, I’ve been slowly digesting this thick, engaging history of pop from 1955 to present. I don’t think Barrie would approve of how cheerfully Stanley lobs spitballs at sacred cows–he describes Talking Heads as “a bunch of male musicians trying to impress Tina Weymouth with their chops”–but she’d certainly like his passion and intellectual engagement with pop in all its forms. It’s the most fun I’ve ever had doing book research.
In the words of my favorite guitarist, the forever-underrated Lindsey Buckingham, that’s all for everyone. Hope you liked this peek at my reading list–stay tuned, ’cause when the book is finally out I’ll probably be back here doing a random interview about jello molds and my favorite hats of 1994. Thanks to Julie for having me over!
Jen Lillis is the YA author of HOW TO REPAIR A MECHANICAL HEART and WE WON’T FEEL A THING. Lover of geeks, robots, villainous queens, haunted dollhouses, & argyle socks. Follow her https://twitter.com/jclillis and http://t.co/v43Zp75D0e.

Joe Hart Tells Us Stuff & An Excerpt From THE WAITING.

TODAY’S BREW: Columbian Something On Sale

By Julie

I’m a big Joe Hart fan. I’m a fan of him, personally, as exemplified by our status as roommates on Twitter. I’m as big a fan of his work. (He just tweeted this line from his new work in progress: “He lived a life of seldoms, of almosts, and mostly nevers.” UGH. I want this on a tombstone, but not mine.) The man can write horror the way I want it; classic, all but gore-free, and scaring me to the bone with its chilling implications, imagery and language. More The Shining than Nightmare on Elm Street, you know? His flash fiction is the best in the business, if you ask me, and so when he offered up THE WAITING, his latest novel, for me to read, I put on my little winged shoes and flew to his side of the apartment and grabbed it, slobbering and clawing when he tried to pull it away saying I could only have it if I said please.

Follow Joe’s blog where you can read his brilliant work. http://authorjoehart.blogspot.com/

I asked Joe to tell me where he comes up with this stuff. And he just goes on and on  and on. I had to slap him to get him to stop, but it was the funny kind of slap, not the insulting kind.

HERE’S WHAT HE SAID.

I get asked a lot of the time, ‘where do you come up with this stuff?’ or ‘how did you think of that?’ Sometimes people ask with wonder, and others tentatively, like I might leap toward them and bite their face off if they say something wrong. (Note to self: Quit wearing Hannibal Lecter mask when speaking to readers.)

Ahem.

Anyways, it’s the most common question authors get asked, and sometimes the most infuriating.

What do you mean, ‘where do I come up with this stuff?’ It’s just there, all right? Okay?! Now leave me alone! Jeez!

 

I’m kidding, of course, but I do think these questions test us as writers because it points the mirror at us and forces introspection about creativity in general. Personally I love getting asked those questions because it makes me really slow down and figure out exactly where the ideas do come from.

I guess the simple answer is, I think about things. A lot. I’m always telling a story to myself in my head, always wondering, asking questions- what if? Or, what would this character do? Out of the questions come answers. Sometimes they’re good, sometimes not so good, but that seems to be the process.

In my case, I make up creepy things. And since my genre is the one designed to scare people, my ideas can actually be tracked in a fairly clear way.

I ask myself, what am I afraid of?

This works pretty well because I’m somewhat jaded when it comes to horror. I watched Predator when I was six. I started reading King and Koontz when I was eleven. I used to dare my cousin and get dared in return to walk out in the middle of the night and do a lap around our old barn.

It takes quite a bit to scare me. So if an idea comes to my mind that does give me a shiver, I write it down and make a scene out of it. Sometimes I collect these scenes for months without knowing how they’re going to fit together, or if there’s a story at all. But usually if they start stacking up, I can arrange them in a narrative. Joe Hill once said to start small and write one good scene, then another after that, and just keep going. My process is close to the same. If I can scare myself silly by playing out a scene in my head, I run with it and weave it into the story. I did this several times in my latest novel, The Waiting, which in my opinion is the creepiest thing I’ve written to date.

But even before you can scare readers, you have to make them care. There is no fear if a person has nothing to lose. I’ve asked myself this question over the years: who is the most dangerous person, someone who has nothing to lose, or everything? I would have to side with everything, and for me this correlates directly with a reader’s engagement. A reader has to care about the characters. They have to care about the plot. They have to be emotionally involved in the story, and then you can flip the lights off on them and scream at the top of your lungs. If they don’t care, you can sling blood and guts at them continuously and they won’t move, except to shut the cover.

HEY THERE, IT’S ME, JULIE AND I DECIDED YOU DESERVED AN EXCERPT FROM THE WAITING. I love this because it takes place in a creepy ass basement. I love the idea of finding weird shit in basements, and bet you do, too. So, read:

Evan searched blindly until his fingers met a switch box. Knowing full well if this switch produced no light he would retreat up the stairs, he flipped it up. Three dim bulbsblinked on in a line across the basement, casting everything in a sick glow. He was about
to step onto the basement floor when he looked down—
—and saw a small child standing less than a foot away.
Evan’s feet tried to backpedal, and a strangled moan fell from his mouth as he tripped and landed hard on the stairs behind him. The treads bit into his ass and lower back, but he barely noticed, his gaping eyes locked on the child facing away from him.
Just as he was about to spin and flee up the stairs, already forming a plan to grab Shaun from the couch and haul him to the pontoon, Evan realized that the child hadn’t moved.
He waited, his breath too large for his lungs. His eyes traveled down the back of a little girl with dark hair wearing a purple dress, except something was wrong. Several dark slits were cut into the back of her knees.
Evan sighed and placed his sweating face into one palm.
A doll.
“Shit.”
His voice sounded hollow, but speaking gave him the strength to stand and wince at the throbbing ache settling into his back. Evan moved down the last two treads, his heart returning into the realm of normality as the doll’s face came into view. Its eyes stared across the basement, its mouth covered in duct tape.
The bubbling dread within his stomach that had receded only moments ago began to build again, the hairs rising on the back of his neck. Evan didn’t move any farther into the basement, his eyes fixed on the doll’s face. Visions of its head slowly turning toward him corkscrewed through his mind. If that happened, he wouldn’t just cry out, he would become a scream embodied.
Trying to shove aside the blaring fear within, he bent and grasped the doll’s miniature arm. Its plastic flesh felt cold to the touch, as if it had been soaking in ice water. Evan shuddered, waiting for the frigid limb to writhe in his palm. Even as the rational part of his mind tried to quell the stampeding fear, Evan noticed his hands shaking. He turned the doll over once, studying it. It didn’t look very old or used. In fact, it appeared almost new. When he flipped it over again, he started as its bright blue eyes blinked shut, but realized it was designed to do that when lying flat. He studied the gray tape covering the doll’s mouth, it chubby cheeks visible above its gag. Evan set the doll on the floor beside a stack of cardboard boxes, giving it another sidelong glance before stepping fully into the room.
The basement ran the full length and width of the house, and even with its low ceiling, it felt like a cavernous space. To his right he saw what must have been Jason’s grandmother’s sewing area; a dust-covered sewing machine sat amidst a field of threaded bobbins atop a desk. Beside it, several baskets of yarn lay in bundles, their wrapping sealed and new.
Evan moved forward, running his hand along a workbench that ran along the wall.
A pegboard of hanging tools glinted in the soft light, and numerous drawers lined the front of the bench. A few support beams studded the floor in random places, furthering the feeling of being in a cave.
As he approached the opposite end of the room, Evan saw a wide worktable covered with a white sheet and littered with several stacks of papers held down by oblong brass paperweights. A few sprockets and thin chains were coiled within trails of oil.
Beyond the table stood a massive shape partially concealed by another sheet, this one dark and splotched.
Evan moved closer to the hidden shape, noting the electrical panel in one corner as well as a hulking furnace and water heater. Several cobwebs danced in the rafters above, and gradually the silhouette beneath the makeshift tarp became apparent.
A grandfather clock.
But it was the biggest Evan had ever seen. Rounding the table, he tugged once at the sheet covering its bulk. It fell to the floor, and he stepped back.
The clock didn’t have a single pendulum encasement, but three. The two towers to either side of the center lacked actual pendulums and sat lower, like the shoulders of a crouching giant. The wood frame was dark, stained a deep obsidian, with elaborate molding that swirled and curved on the outside of the frame. Three glass doors covered the pendulum encasements, their handles and hinges cast iron, with the center door being the widest, almost big enough for a man to walk through comfortably. The clock’s shining face was the size of a large dinner plate and had four separate sets of timing hands. Instead of numbers around the outer edges, bunches of delicate, curving lines were etched into the silver plating. The slicing brink of a moon dial peeked over the top of the clock’s face; the crescent moon carved into the steel bore an uncanny malevolent smile, with two empty sockets for eyes. Above the face, the molding came together in two pointed horns that nearly met in the middle.
That’s the scariest fucking clock I’ve ever seen.
Evan frowned. How could a timepiece be scary? He chided himself but couldn’t deny the aura the clock gave off. It hadn’t been engineered to be beautiful. As far as he could see, it was quite the opposite.
Evan’s hip bumped the worktable, and one of the paperweights rolled off the pile it held down. He reached out and stopped it before it plummeted to the floor, marveling at its weight. Only after lifting it close to his face did he realize that’s exactly what it was—
a weight for the clock. Its brass casing shone beneath the light, and a small pulley grew from its top.
Evan spun the little wheel a few times before placing the weight back on the table.
A diagram on one of the pieces of paper drew his attention. Evan picked the paper up and spent a few seconds squinting before realizing it was an inner illustration of the clock’s face, “the bonnet,” as it was apparently called.
“On it like a bonnet,” Evan said to the empty room, as he placed the paper back on the pile. He turned toward the clock, wondering whether or not he should replace the sheet. The soulless eyes of the moon at the clock’s peak gazed at him, almost imploring
him to come closer.
“No thanks,” Evan said, and crossed the basement to the stairway, shooting only a cursory glance at the doll as he passed.
He paused at the light switch, running through different options before sighing and flipping off the power to the lights. The basement plunged into darkness, and with all the restraint he held in his body, he managed not to pelt up the stairs into the welcoming light of the kitchen.

I KNOW, RIGHT?? Go buy THE WAITING right this second. http://t.co/P3IvkebeMa

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