We Are Not Alone . . . Are You?

Dear Girls With Pens subscribers,

Lisa and I are incredibly excited about a new opportunity for writers and other creatives that launched this past Monday, and we just had to share it with you.

WANA International is bringing together 40 instructors (including Lisa and I) to teach online classes in craft, technology, social media, lifestyle, and businesses.

WANATribe is a new social media platform exclusively for creatives where we can mix and mingle with people who really “get” us. It’s spam and automation free.

To learn more about both, read Kristen Lamb’s launch post.

You can also check out what WANA means, what it means to us, and why we’re excited about being a part of this new project in our posts about the launch.

Lisa wrote WANA Party!

Marcy wrote Is Now Really the Best Time Ever for Writers?

For those of you who’ve subscribed in the past month, we also wanted to remind you that we now blog on our own sites. Same great content, different location.

To catch you up, here’s what you’ve missed in the past month.

From Marcy’s blog…

Should You Move from WordPress.com to WordPress.org?

Eight Reasons Paper Books Will Become An Endangered Species

How to Use Taste to Make Your Readers Hungry for More

Four Little-Known Factors that Could Destroy Your Blog’s Chances of Success

Click here to subscribe to Marcy Kennedy’s Blog

Lisa is no longer blogging about writing on her website. Instead she’s launched a newsletter for writers. Click here to subscribe to The Candid Writer. In her first two issues, she wrote about self-publishing and interviewing.

Marcy

Newsletter Update

When Marcy and I decided to stop blogging at GWP and only blog at our own sites, we offered everyone here the chance to subscribe to a GWP style newsletter we planned to write.

Plans change.

Because I miss hanging out with my writer peeps here, beginning Monday May 28 I am launching The Candid Writer, a weekly newsletter that will bring you GWP style articles with a few extras. Unfortunately, due to time constraints, Marcy is unable to join me in this venture.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I have decided not to automagically subscribe everyone who thought they had signed up for a newsletter from GWP. I have been blogging about writing weekly, but after this week my writing posts will appear in The Candid Writer only. Half of the great articles here at GWP are mine, so I hope you make the switch and subscribe for content available exclusively through this weekly newsletter especially for new and emerging writers that will always be free.

If you enjoyed GWP, I encourage you to subscribe to The Candid Writer.

Lisa

Don’t forget you can subscribe to our blogs too!

Marcy Kennedy’s blog

Lisa Hall-Wilson’s blog

Important Reminder from Girls With Pens

Over the past few weeks, Lisa and I couldn’t help noticing that we’re still getting subscribers here. And that’s great! We’re happy to have you, but we wanted to remind everyone that we’ve moved. If you want to receive new content like what you’ve obviously enjoyed on GWP (otherwise you wouldn’t have subscribed), you need to do two simple things.

(1) Subscribe to Marcy Kennedy’s Blog

(2) Subscribe to Lisa Hall-Wilson’s Blog

See, told you it was simple🙂

To help you catch up, here’s the great writing-related content you’ve missed…

What Do We Mean by Strong Female Characters?

How to Keep Strong Female Characters Likeable

What About Characters That Don’t Match Stereotypical Male and Female Qualities?

Do You Worry You Won’t Succeed As A Writer?

How to Make Your Novel Scratch and Sniff

Anger: 5 Shades of Seeing Red

Connotation: Writing Between the Lines

The Details Make the Story

Where’s the Line in the Sand?

4 Writing Tips on Getting Started for Young Authors

Farewell from Girls With Pens

This week marks a change that’s both exciting and sad for us. This is the final week of Girls With Pens. We’ve decided to follow the advice of our blogging mentor Kristen Lamb and focus our efforts on the blogs on our websites rather than putting our writing posts here and our other posts there. Trying to divide our time and spreading our online presence out in this way has become more than we can manage.

For those of you who might be worried, this decision has nothing to do with our novel or our friendship (both of which are still going strong). This is a practical choice for us based on needing to make sure that we have time to write, help others, build our platforms, and still live lives away from the computer.

We have some very exciting changes coming up over the next few months, including beginning to teach online writing and social media classes. We can’t give you more details on that right now, but we will have announcements on exactly what classes we’ll be teaching, when, and how you can sign up in the Girls With Pens newsletter and on our blogs.

We’ve loved getting to know you and have appreciated you reading our posts. We hope that you’ll use the links below to subscribe to both our blogs and the Girls With Pens monthly newsletter.

Sign up for our NEW free Girls With Pens newsletter! – The Girls With Pens monthly ezine will bring you interviews with industry professionals as well as other juicy tidbits.    

Subscribe to Marcy Kennedy’s Blog by Email – Starting in April, Marcy will be posting her writing and social media posts on Wednesdays. She’ll also write about how science fiction, fantasy, and life collide on Mondays, and share author interviews, movie trailers, mash-ups, and other fun on Fridays. If you want to subscribe to Marcy’s blog by e-reader rather than email, just pop on over to her website.

Connect with Marcy on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. Twitter is her daily hangout, but if you want active conversations about publishing trends, join her on Google+. Her Facebook page will share writing links like the GWP Facebook page did, but she also shares nerd-related fun and inspirational quotes.

Subscribe to Lisa Hall-Wilson’s Blog – Lisa will be blogging about history, humor, and things that challenge and inspire on Mondays, and Thursday will cover writing, publishing and platform topics.

Connect with Lisa on Twitter and Google+, but she hangs out on Facebook. Like her page for writing links and the same great content you’ve enjoyed from her on the Girls With Pens page, or subscribe to her profile for a more personal connection.

The Girls With Pens Facebook Page will be shut down April 1st as well.

Tagged by Lucky 7

So – who wants an excerpt from the much talked-about WIP we’ve been trying to sell to agents?

There’s this fun little blogging blitz called Lucky 7 Meme or 777 going around where writers are tagging other writers in a virtual game of IT. I was tagged by CC MacKenzie over at Fizz and Fangs (that’s an awesome name for a blog btw), but since all I’ve worked on for the last few months is my co-written WIP with Marcy I thought I’d share here.

The rules:

  • Go to page 77 of your current MSS/WIP
  • Go to line 7
  • Copy down the next 7 lines, sentences, or paragraphs, and post them as they’re written
  • Tag 7 other authors

OK – Confession: I had to cheat a little because following these rules exactly would have lifted an excerpt that didn’t really make any sense.

Zerynthia glanced at Kaduis where he stood conversing with the man she presumed to be his commander. The man had at least two dozen scalps at his belt, and the skin on his face was black with tattoos.

Zerynthia smiled. “The queens of Amazonia will show Scythia we are not their submissive slaves, shall we. In Greek, so they have no doubts.”

They reared up their horses in unison and had them take two hops on their hind legs. The horses came down on all four legs facing the Red. The Red stared ahead, faces stone-hard. Zerynthia’s nerves sang with the thrill of the moment.

Marpesia lifted her left arm, the white binding that wound from her shoulder to her wrist blinding as it reflected the sun. “We are free. We are equal.”

Zerynthia lifted her right arm, bound in white like Marpesia’s, spear in hand. “Death to men.”

Every Amazon assembled joined in the war cry.

Hope you enjoyed it!

Who’s IT now?

Tiffany White – Ooooh Factor

David Walker – at Where The Heart Is

Melinda VanLone – at Demons and Dark Chocolate

Jessica O’Neal – The Sexy Little Nerd

Debra Kristi – at Sparks In The Fire

Leanne Shirtliffe – The Ironic Mom

Kourtney Heintz

Make sure you check out our own blogs this week:

Marcy – Life At Warp 10

One Thing Magneto Got Right – What Magneto got right in the latest X-Men movie.

Dealing with Fairies – Does Forgiving Mean We Forget – Careful what you say to a fairy…

Lisa blogging Through The Fire

Sounds of Spring – What spring sound like at your house? My neighbors leave their windows open at night…

I Can’t Believe I Said That – Yes…Yes, I actually said all these things. I can laugh about it now.

Just a reminder – only one week left of GWP goodness as it exists. We’re making the switch to a monthly online ezine – and we want all of our followers here (even those who lurk – we love you too) to join us. We’ll still write the same great writing tips and publishing news articles – but we’ll also feature interviews with published authors and writers that you just don’t want to miss!

Lisa

Sign up for our NEW free Girls With Pens newsletter!

Subscribe to Marcy Kennedy’s Blog by Email

Subscribe to Lisa Hall-Wilson’s Blog

Seeking Inspiration

Writers have active imaginations – fiction writers at any rate. It’s a job hazard. We call it a muse, creative juices, inspiration…

We seem to have been writing a lot of posts about the business of writing, so I thought it might be a good place for a bit of a break. When we go to conferences, we are often asked where we get our ideas.

I can’t speak for Marcy about where she gets her ideas, though I’m sure she’ll jump in. (She probably would have contributed more if I had thought to write this post more than 6 hours ahead of posting it…. yeah – I know. If I had ‘planned’ I wouldn’t be behind. I work better under pressure!) Me, I get my inspiration from a lot of different places.

The thing about inspiration is that it’s a starting place. I think a lot of people get caught up in the beginning idea and never work to develop the idea. My English teacher in high school used to say that every writer had a glass ceiling over their heads. All your initial ideas happen beneath the glass ceiling, but when you work on them, develop them, you can get past the big easy, the over-done, the unoriginal, to where new unique stories happen above the glass ceiling.

Movies

I love a good story in almost any form (though radio dramas tend to put me to sleep). I love to watch movies. I’ve had many story ideas come to me by watching movies – a twist on this concept or that, or how it should have ended, etc.

Books

Of course. Enough said? Whether it’s a encyclopedia, a biography, a fiction story – anything can be a jumping off point for a story.

People Watching

I get lots of great story ideas watching people at the park, at the mall, stopped at red lights, waiting in lines. Sometimes it’s a snippet of conversation, maybe the body language, a gesture or expression. It’s the seed of an idea.

News

I’m a news junkie. I’m constantly scanning the trending headlines on yahoo or whereever. I have this crazy story inspired by the Robert Picton story that happened out in British Columbia. I should get back to that story…😛 Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction.

Walking

When I’m stuck for new ideas, I go for a walk. CJ, my black lab, and I have taken walks at all hours of the day and night because I was stuck on a story. There’s something about the mix of getting active, new scenery, and fresh air that rejuvenates my creativity.

Take a break

Sometimes the best thing I can do is shut down the laptop and go do something else. I will do laundry, wash dishes, make cookies, take a nap (never underestimate the power of a good nap), or play with my kids. When I stop working so hard to find an idea, that’s when something pops into my head I can use.

But don’t stop with the idea…

Then you take that kernel, that seed of an idea, and you play with it. You noodle it for a bit. Maybe you write a few things down. One writer described the process (yes, he’s a planner – I’m surrounded) like working a ball of clay in his hands, shaping the idea, working with new angles and shapes until it begins to take form in his mind.

Where do you get your ideas? What do you do when you’re ‘stuck’ for a new idea?

Lisa

Reminder: As of the end of this month, Marcy and Lisa won’t be posting full blog articles here at Girls With Pens. Instead we’ll still be writing the posts on writing and social media that you’ve come to expect on our own blogs, and we’ll be creating a monthly Girls With Pens newsletter to bring you amazing interviews with industry professionals.

Sign up for our NEW free Girls With Pens newsletter!

Subscribe to Marcy Kennedy’s Blog by Email

Subscribe to Lisa Hall-Wilson’s Blog

Do Writers Deserve to Be Paid for Their Work?

Two great discussions of interest to writers flew around the internet this week. So great in fact that I couldn’t choose between them to highlight for you.

Do writer’s deserve to be paid for their work?

This debate blew up after Seth Godin was quoted as saying, “Who said you have a right to cash money from writing? Poets don’t get paid (often), but there’s no poetry shortage.”

You can read the original argument-inspiring article Godin to Authors: You Have No Right to Make Money Any More, and also literary agent Rachelle Gardner’s respond on her blog with do Authors Have A Right to Be Paid?

Should writers avoid controversy on their blogs?

Kristen Lamb wrote an excellent post called Deadly Doses – Politics, Religion, and Our Author Platform suggesting that unless you’re a religious or political writer, you should avoid talking about religion and politics on your blog (or at least be very careful about how you do it).

This ended up sparking responses both in the comments and on other blogs about not just politics and religion in blogging but controversy in general. My favorite reply came from Amber West in her post The Controversy Over Controversy.

Marcy

Marcy’s Posts This Week

What Do We Mean By “Strong Female Characters?” – Do female characters need to deny all traditionally feminine qualities to be considered strong? The first in a series Marcy is starting.

Yoda Was Wrong – At the risk of a nerd lynching, Marcy argues that Yoda was actually wrong when he said “there is no try.”

Lisa’s Posts This Week

Mare-Milkers and War Lords – The Scythians aren’t a well-known people group, but their innovations revolutionized ancient warfare. In their day, they were the boogey-men of the Greek world. These guys were downright scary.

Reminder: As of the end of this month, Lisa and I will no longer be blogging here at Girls With Pens. Instead we’ll still be writing the posts on writing and social media that you’ve come to expect on our own blogs, and we’ll be creating a monthly Girls With Pens newsletter to bring you amazing interviews with industry professionals.

Sign up for our NEW free Girls With Pens newsletter!

Subscribe to Marcy Kennedy’s Blog by Email

Subscribe to Lisa Hall-Wilson’s Blog

Reblogging Etiquette

ReBlogging EtiquetteLately I’ve seen a lot of bloggers wondering what the etiquette should be around reblogging (blogging something previously posted on another blog).

Before I get into the tips, let me say that I think re-blogging can be useful. If you’re being reblogged, it’s an honor that someone found your content worthy of sharing with their followers, and it can extend your reach and bring people back to your site without the effort of guest posting. If you’re the reblogger, it can sometimes be a lifesaver in terms of getting content up on your site when your week has fallen to pieces. Plus, you’re providing your readers a service through vetting material for them and bringing them the best.

If done incorrectly, though, reblogging flirts with the line of plagiarism. You don’t want to flirt with plagiarism. She carries some really nasty diseases.

So how can we reblog in a professional, mutually beneficial way?

Ask First

Unless you know that the blogger doesn’t mind others reblogging their content, always ask first.

With all the social media options available, it’s not that hard to reach a blogger anymore. If Lisa or I don’t respond to a comment on our blogs right away, you can usually catch us on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or through email. I know that we’ve entered an age of instant gratification, but patience is still a virtue.

You should do more than just ask permission though. Not all reblogging is created equal. Find out the format the original blogger prefers. Are they alright with you copying the entire post onto your site? Or would they prefer you copy only the first couple of paragraphs with a link back to the full article?

Why does the format of the reblogging matter?

Comments – While I can’t speak for every blogger, I like to try to reply to comments on my post. If my post is appearing in full someplace else, chances are good I won’t be able to monitor the comments there as well as on my own site. With a guest post, you’re able to plan in advance. With a reblog, unlike with a regular guest post, I haven’t planned the extra social media time into my day to be able to check and reply to comments on two (or more) sites where my content is appearing.

Site Stats – If you’re a writer who’s blogging as part of building a platform, your site stats matter. They can influence whether you get an agent, whether people take you seriously, and (if you choose) whether you can eventually sell ad space on your site. The click-through rate for a post reblogged in full is much lower than for a partial repost with a link.

Common Courtesy – A good blog posts takes me 1-3 hours to write, depending on the complexity of the topic and the amount of research necessary. While I’m happy to share and to help, I’ve made significant sacrifices to produce my content, and I believe that still gives me the right to decide when and how it’s used.

Credit the Original Source

If something goes viral and you find it four people down the chain, go back and reblog from the original site. It’s respectful to the owner of the material, and it’s kind to your reader who won’t want to go back through a chain of sites to find the original source to see if they have more excellent content to read.

What if you follow the chain to a dead end? Part of being a responsible writer is doing your research and exercising due diligence. Run a Google search, and see if you can locate the original poster on your own.

Add An Introduction/Conclusion

If you end up reblogging the content in full, add an original introduction or conclusion telling people not only where you found the content but also why you thought it was worthy of reblogging. What’s the point that resonated the most with you? What do you disagree with?

Have you tried reblogging? What other pieces of etiquette do you think should be observed? Do you think reblogging is a great new trend that can benefit everyone or no better than plagiarism?

Marcy

**Remember that next week will be our last full week of posts here at Girls With Pens, so be sure to sign up for our monthly newsletter (space is limited) and subscribe to Marcy’s blog and Lisa’s blog to continue receiving posts on writing, marketing, social media, and all the other goodies you’ve come to expect from us.**

Sign up for our NEW free Girls With Pens newsletter!

Subscribe to Marcy Kennedy’s Blog by Email

Facebook Timeline Mashup

Timeline got you down? Don’t have time to learn all the new tips and tricks? I can’t beam the info into your brain, but since I appreciate you all so much I’m sharing my research. I’m sure there a few more articles published in the last couple of days, but this is a good start regarding Facebook’s Timeline for pages.

Don’t let Facebook Timeline leave you bloodied and defeated – rise up!

Timeline Brand Guide from Mashable – Quick overview. Did you know you can only fill out your page’s milestones until 1800?

Have a social media plan for Facebook. Excellent idea, Mashable. Great resource.

Hats off to Mashable, they were all over this! Read why you need to pay attention to the newsfeed!!

If you don’t know what Edgerank is – read this. Learn about Edgerank – it’s important! This wasn’t changed by Timeline – but it’s a foundational kind of building block you should know about Facebook.

Mashable again – I’m beginning to think I should be getting paid for this (I’m so NOT getting paid to do this – I wish) Learn about Timeline’s real-time analytics. Yes, your Facebook page has built-in analytics that give you fan demographics, interaction graphs, etc. Important tool. (Only the analytics still haven’t hit the real-time part they promised…but that’s another post.)

Here we go – Hubspot jumps into the ring with this fabulous post about getting started on Timeline. Lots of great practical tips here – if you only read one of these – make it this one.

Techcrunch weighs in on the death of the custom landing tab. This may be for more advance Facebook page users – good stuff though. Jump in.

Another great post about how the newsfeed works from Techcrunch. Did you know on average you’re only reaching 16% of your page’s fans? That’s not great. Read this to find out how to do better at reaching more of your fans – and their friends.

A great post from Author Media about 10 ways to increase the number of Facebook Fans you have – the right way (which is not the quick and easy way – be warned). This is a less technical look at the topic from the article linked directly above.

Author Media rounds out this mashup with a great post on what these changes mean to authors, and how authors can best make use of them.

So what? I can read all these posts – doesn’t help me. I want to see this in action. I thought you might say that. There are a number of authors using Facebook to reach large audiences, and have active Facebook communities. I’ve listed a few here. Lurk their page (you don’t have to like what they write) and see how they’re connecting with fans. I’ve tried to have a number of different genres reflected in the list.

Paulo Coelho – 7.7m fans

Neil Gaiman – 477k fans

Frank Delaney 1,187 fans

Karin Slaughter 27k fans

Ted Dekker 157k fans

Laurell K Hamilton 238k fans

Kelley Armstrong 15k fans

Finally…

A behind the scenes interview with author and Snowflake method creator Randy Ingermanson about his new book Oxygen

The Most Underestimated Key to Success from The Matrix – “There Is No Spoon”

Ever wished for a do-over? What moments in life would you really want to live again?

**We’ve moved! Please join us at our new permanent homes. You can find Marcy at her website and Lisa at her website.

Have a question about Timeline? Leave it in the comments, or start a discussion on our Facebook page. Still  hating Timeline – tell us why.🙂

Lisa

6 Reasons Authors Should Love Timeline

I’ll admit, Facebook’s changes are hard to keep up with, but I’m excited about Timeline and have 6 reasons why authors should be happy about some of the new changes.

We have a BIG announcement to make regarding GWP. It’s at the bottom – make sure you read (or skip) to the bottom to get all the details.

I spent the weekend tweaking 3 of the Facebook pages I’m responsible for, and there are some cool new features writers and authors should be embracing not cursing. Yes, it’s an investment of time, but an overhaul this big is only going to happen…once a year? lol Not my point – this change is worth the effort.

Plus – here’s the kicker. Reportedly, Timeline will be offloaded on your page whether you want it or not March 30 so you’re better to learn about the changes and take advantage of them.

A screenshot of a few of the new Timeline features

1. When creating a new Facebook page, you no longer have to bow down to the 25. Previously, I had to beg family and friends to please Like this new page for me so I could hit that magic 25 fans number to get a custom url. Don’t have to anymore. You can get a custom url with only one follower – you! Yay!! (Don’t know if this is due to Timeline or not – but still awesome)

2. The custom landing tabs game has changed. Previously, you could go to a site like Wildfire, Lujure, Tabsite or others, and drag and drop a free or paid upgrade custom landing page – you know, that page you first land on before you like a page that says “Like” with a giant arrow or offers a free download of a song or ebook for ‘Liking’ our page. Gone! Sort of.

Timeline makes the wall the default landing page. Boo. That’s disappointing because landing tabs were said to exponentially increase the number of likes on a page. Tabs are still there, but you can’t make anyone look at them anymore. We changed our custom welcome tab into a Meet Marcy and Lisa tab that’s more of a visual bio page. Experiment to see what works for you. Timeline now allows you to change the thumbnail for the landing page – so those of you with Mailchimp subscription forms no longer have to stare at the chimp (eep eep – I don’t want your monkey face on my Facebook page!).

The new design makes your photos and fan counter the top two tabs by default – you can’t change those. There is room for 2 more on that first line. Users now have an extra click to access any additional tabs so think through which ones you want front and center.

3. Facebook is apparently the largest photo sharing site on the web. Everyone posts photos of all sorts on Facebook. Timeline taps into all that photo sharing goodness by making everything more visual.

Utilize this visual nature. People love to share photos and funny pics. If you want to post a quote – make a quick jpeg of it with a non-copyrighted photo (there’s a variety of programs that will let you do this – you don’t need expensive Photoshop software – Paint, Powerpoint, etc.). Consider telling your author story in pictures. Post a photo often because a huge majority of fans never visit your page – they interact with your posts as they appear on their newsfeeds. Make use of the extra real-estate photos are given to get noticed.

4. The cover photo. There are rules for cover photos for pages – learn them. I don’t always understand Facebook’s rules, but if you want a turn on their playground you have to play their way.

Cover photos may NOT include:

  • Price or purchase info (no discount offers or buy this here or there stuff)
  • No contact info like websites, email addy, mailing info, etc. Put it in your About section
  • No ‘Like’, ‘Share’, ‘Get It Now’, or ‘Tell Your Friends’ call to action stuff – OR an arrow pointing to any of those features.
  • Cover photos can’t be false, misleading, or infringe on 3rd party rights (duh)

The best cover photos employ powerful images that pull people in. Use a portion of your book cover, a shot of you at a book signing or speaking, a promotional photo. But follow the rules.

5. Milestones. Timeline is a lurker’s dream – indulge your fans and give them some fun milestones to nose through using compelling or interesting photos. On your personal profile this is called a life event. This isn’t required, but seems to me like a valuable tool. Some companies have documented their entire history – like Manchester United. I found out Coca Cola first became known as Coke in 1941. It was fun browsing the classic Coke ads, and learning a bit about the company history.

I’m pretty annoyed that you have to publish your Timeline before it lets you add your Milestones – but there it is. Tell your fans about your publishing or writing journey in a visual way with photos.

Customized content from personal profile now appears on pages you visit

6. I didn’t post that on my page! Moment of panic – where did that post in the right-hand column come from? Well, Facebook put it there. Timeline will now pull statuses you or your friends have posted about whatever page you’re visiting and place it on pages so it appears like a built-in recommendation. At a glance, you can see how you or your friends have interacted or commented about this page. Cool – right? I think this is great.

7. This is a bonus afterthought. Timeline for pages allows fans to message you, like a friend would message you on your personal profile. The default setting for this is ON. It’s a simple box to uncheck in the admin panel (now found above the cover photo), but think through whether you want fans to be able to send you personal messages on Facebook or not. For companies, this could be a great way to deal with customer complaints or other issues they don’t want to plaster on the wall – but authors generally don’t have an HR department so I’m on the fence about the functionality of this feature for writers right now.

What do you think about Timeline? Do you think any of these features will be helpful on your author page? What other features are you excited about?

Lisa

**We’ve moved! Please join us at our new permanent homes. You can find Marcy at her website and Lisa at her website.

Marcy and Lisa