Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Confessions of a "Fault"-aholic

It's been awhile since I've been so excited about the movie adaptation of a book, but I'm officially giddy over the anticipation of the upcoming film "The Fault in Our Stars."

As always, I was a good year and half behind everyone else in reading John Green's book about two teens who meet and fall in love in a cancer support group. I kept hearing all the hype about the book, and thought to myself, "There's no way that's going to end well, so why should I even bother?"

I'm glad I bothered. I've read other books by John Green, but this one is by far my favorite, and it all has to do with the character of Augustus Waters. From the very first time he spoke in the book, I realized that Gus was the type of guy I had been searching for all through my teen and young adult years--a guy who could hold his own in a conversation and not say "huh?" when I used a word in a sentence that he had never heard before. I liked the book so much that I forced my husband (who does not read novels at all normally) to read it, and he finished it in two days.

It doesn't hurt that "The Fault in Our Stars" contains some of the wittiest dialogue I've seen in years, and I've read a lot of books. As I was reading the book on my Kindle, I found myself highlighting like crazy, and I'm so glad I did. Many of the lines I highlighted are used in the  movie and I was thrilled to see them in the movie trailer. Here are a few lines from the book that really caught my attention, and made me either laugh out loud, cry, or do both at the same time:

Kaitlyn: "Oh, I got over it, darling. It took me a sleeve of Girl Scout Thin Mints and forty minutes to get over that boy."

Gus: "You are so busy being you that you have no idea how utterly unprecedented you are."

Hazel: "As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once."

You can find more great quotes from the movie on Pinterest.

And if I haven't convinced you by now to read the book and/or watch the movie, here is the extended movie trailer (you might want to grab a hankie first).

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Find the Best Posting Schedule For You with Avoid Social Media Time Suck

If you're anything like me, you probably think posting about your work occasionally on Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Facebook will get the job done. I often tell myself that the fact that I have any sort of social media presence at all is helpful to my platform as a freelance writer and blogger, but I'm starting to think differently. I'll admit that, working from home, I use Facebook mostly in lieu of a virtual watercooler whenever I get bored, think of something zippy to say or need advice about something which may or may not be related to writing and publishing.

Everything I've learned about social media over the past five or six years has mostly been self-taught and through books and blogs I follow. Because of this, I was excited to get the chance to work with author and social media strategist Frances Caballo on her WOW! Women on Writing blog tour for Avoid Social Media Time Suck: A Blueprint for Writers To Create Online Buzz for Their Books and Still Have Time to Write.

One of the chapters I found to be most helpful includes examples of posting schedules designed to help writers promote themselves while still having time to do all the other things we have to do, such as write our books, promote our work, pitch articles, follow up on queries, and so on.

Caballo points out that it is important to know when to post because you want to make sure your updates are seen. For example, it's best to schedule messages on Facebook between the hours of 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. If you're posting on Twitter, four posts a day are optimal. The real action on LinkedIn occurs during the week, etc.

For writers who are looking to increase their exposure and marketing messages, Avoid Social Media Time Suck includes handy charts with basic, moderate and advanced posting schedules, as well as which apps work best for finding new followers and analyzing your social media stats. I'm definitely tucking this information away for the day when (not if! I'm being optimistic!) I publish my first book. I highly encourage you to check out Avoid Social Media Time Suck, as well as Frances Caballo's other books designed to help writers navigate social media.

Intrigued? Enter to win your own copy of the book on Goodreads during the month of April.
Avoid Social Media Time Suck: A Blueprint for Writers To Create Online Buzz for Their Books and Still Have Time to Write
By Frances Caballo

Social media is no longer an option for writers--it is a required element of every author’s platform. If you’ve been avoiding Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and other social networks because you think tweeting and posting will take large chunks of time out of your day and leave you with little time to write, think again. Using social media to market your books doesn’t need to be time-consuming. And with the four-step formula you’ll find in this book, it won’t be.
Whether you’re a seasoned or a newbie social media user, this book will introduce you to posting schedules, timesaving applications and content-rich websites that will help you economize the time you spend using social media to promote your books. You will learn:

  • How to create and perfect your author platform.
  • Where great content exists on the Internet and how you can use it to further your brand within your niche.
  • The importance of being social and applications that make this task easy and fun.
  • Tools that enable you to track and measure your success so you can better understand the return on investment of your valuable time.
  • Which tools prevent you from accessing the Internet when the time comes to sit and write that next book.
  • Exercises for introverted writers to help you feel comfortable on the social web.
  • If you’ve avoided social media because you feel you just don’t have enough time, you’ve used it sporadically and missed the opportunity to widen your audience of readers, or you’ve been frustrated by how long it takes you to conduct social networking tasks, Avoid Social Media Time Suck is the book for you.

Meet Frances Caballo:
Frances Caballo is a social media strategist and manager for authors. Her books include Social MediaJust for Writers: The Best Online Marketing Tips for Selling Your Books
and Blogging Just for Writers. Her clients include the San Francisco Writers Conference, the Women’s National Book Association—San Francisco Chapter, and the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association. A free ebook, Pinterest Just for Writers, is available on her website at www.SocialMediaJustforWriters.com.

Find out more about this author by visiting her online:
Twitter: @CaballoFrances

Do you have any sort of posting schedule for social media, and if so, what does it look like? 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

My YA Writing Heroes - Part 1

Just a few of the treasures I've unearthed at thrift stores.
I was browsing through the YA section at my local library not long ago when I came across the book Thirst by Christopher Pike. The first thing I thought was, "Wow, he's still writing!" And the second thing I remembered was how much I absolutely LOVED his books as a teenager.

I discovered Christopher Pike's books sometime in the early 1990s, and I was instantly hooked. It wasn't until recently that I learned his books are often labeled "pulp horror," which is kind of fitting, as I was usually reading Stephen King and Christopher Pike novels simultaneously while in high school. I'm also pretty sure it was my stack of CP books that got me through the Blizzard of 1993 that hit North Carolina during my junior year of high school. You can imagine how boring and frustrating it got living at least three or four days without power, but I was fortunate enough to be able to read Pike by candlelight.

One of the first books I ever picked up by this author was Chain Letter, then I moved onto Scavenger Hunt, Fall into Darkness (which later became a Lifetime movie!), Remember Me (one of my all-time faves) and Last Act (probably number two on my favorite list). I can't tell you how many times I read his books over, and over, and over. Somewhere along the way during my many moves during college, I parted with most of my paperbacks. I now sincerely regret that. I have such great memories of these books, especially as I now work on writing for this age group myself.

You can imagine how thrilled I was when I came across one of the original CP paperbacks in the Habitat for Humanity ReStore last year, and then proceeded to find two more in my next two visits. Whoever is cleaning out their old collection of paperbacks from the late 1980s and early 1990s, please continue dropping them at my local ReStore. I almost feel like someone is leaving them there just for me to find, but that would be silly, wouldn't it? Here's the log line for Last Act, which I am now searching for on Amazon, Ebay, and the thrift stores:

When the gunshot murder of a Care High actress takes place during an opening night performance, Melanie becomes determined to find the killer, before murder makes an encore appearance.

Now, I need to check out some of Pike's more recent novels. Off to Goodreads!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

News from Around the YA World

The party has started! One of my WOW-Women on Writing colleagues, Margo Dill, is celebrating the release of her YA novel Caught Between Two Curses with a virtual book party over at The Literary Ladies blog. Check it out for your chance to win some of these great prizes:

  • A $10 Amazon Gift Card
  • One e-copy of Caught Between Two Curses
  • Two Caught Between Two Curses signed extra large bookmarks
  • One free, up to 3,000-word full edit of any document

I am excited that Caught Between Two Curses is up next in my "to be read" pile and I will be reviewing the book for Women on Writing in just a few weeks. Here's a synopsis of the book:

Seventeen-year-old Julie Nigelson is cursed. So is her entire family. And it’s not just any-old-regular curse, either-it’s strangely connected to the famous “Curse of the Billy Goat” on the Chicago Cubs. Julie must figure out this mystery while her uncle lies in a coma and her entire love life is in ruins: her boyfriend Gus is pressuring her to have sex, while her best friend Matt is growing more attractive to her all the time. Somehow, Julie must figure out how to save her uncle, her family’s future, and her own love life-and time is running out!

In other YA-related news:
If you've been wanting to read Megan Miranda's debut novel, Fracture, you can get the Kindle edition right now for $1.99. You can read all about Megan and Fracture in my article How to Write a Psychological Thriller from last spring. I'm actually reading the sequel, Vengeance, right now and am having a hard time putting it down!

Contest Alert:
Do you have an unpublished YA manuscript you'd like feedback on? The 15th Free "Dear Lucky Agent" Contest is underway over at Chuck Sambuchino's blog with Writer's Digest and it's open to all genres of young adult fiction. Submit the first 150-200 words of your manuscript by April 9, PST. You must also share word of the contest via social media two different times. See the complete list of rules here. Good luck!