Sunday, June 28, 2015

7 Twitter Tips for Writers

Twitter is an amazing place where writers can "meet" each other, find out what's on agents' wishlists, and discover useful tools to improve their manuscript. Here are seven tips for writers who want to get the most out of their Twitter experience.

1. Establish and build your brand.
Whether you realize it or not, how you interact with people on Twitter, the content you share, and your profile and header images create a brand that's attached to your name. You can create a brand that will help you sell books. So, think about your target audience. Do you expect moms to buy your book? Cultivate a following among mom bloggers by writing and sharing content that interests them. Releasing a steampunk novel? Develop a brand that attracts readers of steampunk books. Tweet about steampunk events, topics, and books.

2. Share the love.

You don't have to follow every person who follows you. (However, if you want to grow your followers list, you should consider following writers who follow you.) But, do be gracious in retweeting information from other writers that may interest your followers. If you write romance, occasionally share information about a romance you just finished and loved. Do the occasional retweet of a promo if you have an interesting commentary on it. Which leads to the next tip...

3. Don't over-promote other writers.
There's nothing worse than following someone who does a rolling retweet of other authors' self-promos. In these instances, there's no thoughtful reason for sharing the information. It's like a mechanical thing of going through a list of promos and retweeting. (And yes, there are services that "contribute" tweets for you. I recommend avoiding those.) If you're somewhat selective in what you share, your retweets will mean more. Otherwise, your followers learn to ignore you.

4. Don't engage in too much self promotion.
Some people have likened repeated tweets about your own project to standing on a street corner and yelling into a megaphone. People walking by hear you (kind of), but there's a really low chance they're listening to what you have to say. Again, if you limit self promotion to two or three tweets per week at the very most, you're less likely to alienate followers. And make sure you have something new to say. Don't just tweet the same self promo every time.

Want to maximize exposure other writers are willing to give to your promotional tweets? Pin your best promo tweet to the top of your Twitter page. By doing that, you're letting new followers know what's most important to you. Many writers pin a tweet announcing they signed with an agent, got a book deal, or the link where people can buy their book. During pitch contests, pin your favorite pitch so others who want to retweet your pitch can find it easily.

5.Shorten links.
Free up characters by using a link shortening website. My favorites are and Use the extra space to include relevant hashtags that will get your tweet in front of a targeted audience (i.e. people who are looking for tweets with a particular hashtag). I'm paranoid so I always test my tinyurl or bitly before sharing it on social media to make sure it takes me to the correct website.

6. Interact with other writers in contests.
 I found my amazing critique partner, Hayley Stone, and two other CPs through PitchWars. I tried to engage with other writers using the hashtag a few times a day. You don't even have to engage that often to connect with writers. Warning: once you begin tweeting on a writing contest hashtag, it's addictive because you'll find out how fun it is. Another warning: agents and contest judges are watching tweets on the hashtag. Don't be a d-bag.

7. Be careful with direct messages.
That means no automatic DMs. They're just bad form. Even a non-automatic direct message can seem annoying to another writer who just started following you. Unless you feel you simply have to send them a DM, consider tweeting at them and asking the best way to contact them. Then they can initiate a DM to share their email address.

What tips do you have for writers using Twitter?

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Waiting to Father

Here's a poem I wrote for Father's Day as a tribute to the men who struggle through infertility.

Waiting to Father

The basal body thermometer.
The syringe with needle.
The pack of pregnancy tests.

The artifacts that mark
A woman's journey through infertility.


The tasks that keep
A woman occupied, industrious.

Doing something matters.

But what of men?
They have one
Mission-critical contribution.

At the conclusion of their duty,
They can do no more
To ensure success.

Entrusting their fate
To doctors,
And their beloved.
They wait.

Wait to see their own eyes
Peering back at them
With infant newness.
The same eyes but also different,
Big and bright among the blanket folds.

Wait to resurrect favorite toys
From their childhood.
These playthings sit in boxes,
Wrapped in memories and hope
That their children will
Understand the magic.

Wait to tease away
The pain of lost games
And lost pets
And lost opportunities.

Wait to bandage scrubby, bloody knees
Scraped against concrete after a fall
In the heat of play,
Whispering words of comfort.

Wait to spin stories
Into the darkness of bedtime
Until droopy eyelids meet
In sleep.

These fathers-to-be also carry the weight.
They bear the wait.

Friday, June 19, 2015

A Poem for Beginnings

My mug leaves a ring on the bathroom counter
Brown, circular. There
Is the day beginning? Or is it just now ending?

Gritty, wet sand shines speckled in the hand.
Smear it over legs cold and kissed by the sea.
Adventures beginning? Perhaps this is the end
Of a trip half-remembered two months later.

The smokey smell of twilight
Snakes its way up my porch.
Where is the sun rising? On whom is it setting?

Cries beg for a fresh drink to appease the toothless appetite.
Moans down a hallway demand relief
from the wet, clingy diaper.
Life is new. But maybe this is the final scene.

Beginnings and endings
Wear similar hues,
Cast the same long shadows.

Water drips from the faucet
Heedless of time, oblivious
To the order of life.
On it goes. Still it goes.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

From Word to Book

Wow. Just... wow.
Earlier today, the amazing VP of Operations for my publisher sent me the first proof of INCONCEIVABLE as an ebook. Seeing the words I've edited, tweaked, and read in Microsoft Word transformed into book format is absolutely overwhelming. The top image is a screenshot of my ebook. (HOORAY!) I knew I'd be excited when my eARC arrived, but I wasn't prepared for the emotions it would provoke: excitement to see my manuscript coming to the end/beginning of its journey, protectiveness for my characters as they're about to be sent into the world, and hope that people will love this story as much as I do. On a side note, I'm in the process of lining up book bloggers, adoption proponents, and advocates in the infertility community to review INCONCEIVABLE. Please feel free to reach out to me if you or someone you know is an influencer who wants to review my book.

Perhaps it's fitting that I'm typing this blog post in the same Starbucks where I wrote the very words of this novel. When I began nearly three years ago, I thought I was starting at the beginning. But the very first scene I ever wrote actually became the epilogue. It's the only part of the book that's in Prince John's voice. I didn't realize when I began that this was, in fact, Hatty's story to tell and John's voice would be the cherry on top to wrap up the journey these characters take together.

It seems fitting to reflect on my journey to this point. As I've said previously, it takes a village to birth a book. I've had so much help along the way, and I've grown tremendously as a writer. Without some of the other writers who've helped me along the way, I wouldn't be here with an ARC in hand. I'm not sure I'd even have a finished novel. And more than that, I'm well on my way to writing my second novel. Tentatively titled GLORYLAND, it's a young adult contemporary novel that's quite different than INCONCEIVABLE in tone and style. Early feedback is very positive. And now that I know the joy that comes from seeing my Word document changed into an ebook, I'm even more eager to get this second novel finished, edited, and on its way to publication.