Celebrating: fewer Twitter followers

Celebrating fewer Twitter followers? In an age when all the experts say that writers (and others) need more more more Twitter followers? When people send you private messages on Twitter claiming they can sell you more followers?

At first I collected followers— I followed everyone who followed me, I followed everyone Twitter suggested I follow, I followed the people that my Twitter friends followed…. and then I had a Twitter feed dominated by people who tweeted what seemed like ads for their books or blogs, sometimes tweeting such things every 30 seconds for nearly an hour.

What I got was a Twitter feed that seemed like a bunch of people shouting and never noticing that no one else was listening. No interactivity— and I doubted anyone would buy my book or even read my blog post if no one ever interacted with my Twitter posts.

So I stepped back and learned some lessons from a Twitter savvy friend, author Declan Finn. He did a lot of actual interacting on Twitter, having conversations there, informing all his writing friends on Facebook about a useful Twitter hashtag that was trending, making lists of followers….

Declan Finn on Twitter: https://twitter.com/DeclanFinnBooks

The first thing I did was start unfollowing Twitter followers who spammed Twitter with what looked like ads, or who retweeted things I found appalling for one reason or another. Not out of spite, but because it was clear that we just didn’t have any interests in common that would foster actual interaction between us.

Then I started following the Twitter Golden Rule— for every one thing I tweeted/retweeted that was about ME, I retweeted 9 things about others. Particularly others who had interacted with me, or others that had some things in common with me. Since I’m a poet, I retweet a lot of haiku and other short poems posted on Twitter.

I also made a private Twitter list of friends I interact with regularly on Twitter. If you aren’t familiar with Twitter lists— you list some Twitter accounts that have something in common. For example, you could have one for people who Tweet about your favorite baseball team, or for writers of Christian science fiction and fantasy, or political accounts…. When you click on the list, you see JUST the recent Tweets of those on that list— so you can easily find worthy things to retweet, which will make the people you retweet feel more friendly toward you.

How to Create a Twitter List: http://www.wikihow.com/Create-a-Twitter-List

I am by no means a Twitter expert— I’ll bet that there will be people who read this post who know loads of things about how to use Twitter more effectively. Whether you are a Twitter maven with good advice or a newbie with nothing but questions, I’d really cherish a comment from you. Particularly if you’d give the URL of your Twitter account so I can follow you.

Me, on Twitter: https://twitter.com/nissalovescats  If you visit my Twitter profile you will see a cute picture of a kitten in a boot.

This is a post in the Celebrate the Small Things blog hop. Which was yesterday. 😦

 

Law & Order SVU’s latest Christian-hate episode was just sad

Law & Order SVU has just been on the air too long. Most of the original characters have moved on, and they are running out of GOOD episode ideas. The BAD ideas, however, remain.

Last night’s episode featured a common motif: demonizing ‘evangelical’ Christians. Story featured an allegedly evangelical church from one of the ‘flyover’ states. Church taught that homosexual acts are a sin— which is part of what the Bible teaches. But this church taught that raping a gay person cured them.

They called that doctrine ‘reparative rape,’ as a way to demonize reparative therapy. Now, since I have same-sex attraction (gay tendencies) I know about REAL reparative therapy. Some of my friends in the Courage FB group have a high opinion of that therapy— which is voluntary, performed by a qualified therapist who may or may not be Christian, and does NOT involve rape.

If a church such as the fictional one in the episode existed, other evangelical churches would be fighting it as a cult such as Scientology or the Branch Davidians— both of which are cults which harmed their members.

In real Christian teaching, rape is a form of fornication (sex outside of legitimate man-woman marriage) and anyone who encouraged such a sin would be considered a heretic or a false teacher.

If it is wrong to hate people for being Black, Jewish, Muslim or Gay, why is this kind of hatred OK on broadcast TV? And wouldn’t it be better for TV shows NOT to insult the majority religion in this country if they want to build their viewership?

I still like Law & Order SVU. But I’d rather watch their good, entertaining, thoughtful episodes from the past— such as the foot-fetish-guy one, which I watch almost every time it’s on— rather than a new episode of this type.


What could Law & Order SVU have done to tell that story without being hateful? First, they should have researched what traditional Christians really believe— perhaps even talk to Gay & Lesbian Christians who sacrifice their sex lives for their Christian faith.

And a good technique would have been to include a character who was evangelical and believed that people with Gay tendencies are called to celibacy if they cannot enhance any opposite sex attractions enough for marriage, and have this character express the wrongness of the cult-church’s teaching. This technique is often used on TV— as when they have a good Muslim in an episode with a terrorist Muslim villain, or a socially responsible Gay person when a Gay guy turns out to be the killer.

They could have told their story without giving it that hate-y, propagandistic tone. And kept more viewers on board.

Why only 8 minutes to build a daily writing habit?

Lately I have been working on developing a daily writing habit. Main reason: when I take a day or two off from writing, that leads to a writingless week or even more. Which tends to turn current writing projects into ones that aren’t going anywhere.

What inspires me is the idea of doing a daily 8-minute timed writing stint (you are allowed to do more.)  To get more accountability, I post daily on Facebook, tagging a few friends who also are working on their writing habit.

But the question is, why 8 minutes? Wouldn’t it be better to do an hour or two? Or even three or four hours like most professional writers do?

The problem is this: if you are trying to build a writing habit, but you know you have to do an hour or more at each writing session, it’s too easy to decide you just don’t have time for writing today.

But 8 minutes— that’s not so much of a challenge. I once did my 8 minutes just before bedtime when I thought my brain was already asleep. My brain woke up and did its job surprisingly well.

The thing about doing 8 minutes of timed writing it leads to longer writing. If you really get on a roll, are you really going to stop at 8 minutes and not even add a sentence or two? Sometimes I do a few 8 minute sessions and then perhaps do 20 or 25 minutes because I’m really hot.

Monica Leonelle suggests in her book that you can use your 8 minute sessions to increase your writing speed, so that even if you can only fit in 8 minutes, you will get many more words in.

In my experience, timed writing increases my writing speed by eliminating distractions— I don’t look up facts on the internet or pull out one of my name books to name a new character. I skip that bit and do the research later. So I don’t end up spending 6 of my 8 minutes fooling around online.

The accountability partners really help. I feel a little silly when I tag the participants and interested persons on Facebook every day. But they can tell me not to do that if they don’t want to any more. The posting— and the comments and ‘likes’ of the others— motivate me. And it’s great to see other people doing their own daily 8 minute stints.

So— do you have a habit of writing (or blogging) daily? If yes, how did you build the habit? If no, are you doing anything to change it? Perhaps you could try the 8 minute writing method to see if it works for you.

If you want to join me and my friends/followers in the daily 8-minute writing, you can drop by my author page, https://www.facebook.com/nissalovescats/  and post your daily 8 minute triumphs there. You can also ask to be on my list of tagged people. I also do it on my personal FB page, https://www.facebook.com/nissa.amas.katoj  Though maybe you should mention on my author page if you are making a friend request?


Marian Elizabeth: The 8-Minute Writing Habit http://www.marian-elizabeth.com/2015/10/the-8-minute-writing-habit.html

Monica Leonelle Will Help You Develop a Consistent Writing Habit http://www.writewithimpact.com/monica-leonelle-will-help-you-develop-a-consistent-writing-habit/

Buy The 8-Minute Writing Habit on Amazon.com https://www.amazon.com/8-Minute-Writing-Habit-Consistent-Storytellers-ebook/dp/B013ZVSFFC

Jeff Goins and why you need a tribe

Jeff Goins, writer

You need a tribe. That is, if you are a writer, poet, blogger, musician, artist or other creative person, you need a group of people who can relate to your work, or to you, and who might possibly become your Number One Fan and take you hostage and do bad things to you….. Well, maybe you’d rather skip the hostage situation.

Author Jeff Goins, who is one of the top writing-topic bloggers, is currently giving away a free PDF ebook called “It’s Not Too Late.” I downloaded it this morning and read a bit chunk of it before I remembered I was supposed to write a blog post this morning. In the book (which is FREE) he talks about tribes. He also has some good deals for those who preorder his next non-free book— find the info here: https://goinswriter.com/preorder/

How do you go about building a tribe? First you find ways to connect with people who might appreciate your work. My very first tribe-building was when I had my old blog, The Lina Lamont Fan Club. I met a few people who commented on my posts regularly. One, Amanda Borenstadt, asked me to read her book and gave me a free ebook copy. We connected because we were both Catholics and Doctor Who fans.

For a few years I was part of the Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy blog tour, which was run by Rebecca LuElla Miller. Each month she scored free books for us from Christian publishers, and on three set days of the month we all blogged about it and visited one another’s blogs. Most of the bloggers were Evangelical/Protestant Christians but there were a few Catholics and a Mormon or two. I got to know some potential ‘tribe’ members through the blog tour which, unfortunately, has come to an end.

I was rather shy about posting in Facebook groups— I was afraid if I said anything online, everyone would mock me and ask me to leave the group. So I started my own FB group for writers of Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy. I met some fine people. And one or two not so fine. A few I consider members of my ‘tribe’— or perhaps I’m members of theirs.  If you might be interested in the Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy group, it’s here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/366357776755069/

But that’s me. I’m sure many creative people have found ways to connect with those who might appreciate their work. What has worked for you?


Three Important Steps to Building a Killer Tribe: https://goinswriter.com/how-to-build-a-killer-tribe/
Nothing to do with Charles Manson, sadly.

Build Your Platform with Tribe Writers: http://debralbutterfield.com/tribe-writers/

Martin Luther and the Lutheran Hail Mary

Can you imagine Martin Luther, founder of Protestantism in general and Lutheranism in particular, kneeling down in prayer and saying the ‘Hail Mary?’ Impossible, right? Well, Martin Luther himself didn’t think so. He included the Hail Mary prayer in a prayer book that he published. It had the first part of the modern Hail Mary: “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.”

This shortened Hail Mary was the original form which is used in the rosary, and which early was used as a substitute for praying the Psalms in the Liturgy of the Hours, for those who could not read the Psalms or who didn’t have access to a book of the Psalms or the Liturgy.

Since Martin Luther by that time was in the Catholicism-rejecting business, he certainly did not need to include this prayer. He did not retain all of his former Catholic beliefs about the Virgin, but he— and other reformers such as Zwingli, Calvin, and even the later John Wesley, retained some Catholic teachings that their modern-day followers universally reject.

One thing I lament about  the world today is that so many of us don’t know what other churches teach, and many also don’t know what the founder of their church taught, or even what the creed or catechism of their church teaches. Perhaps Christians would be better able to understand one another if they would learn some of these things?

The Lutheran Rosary – https://myantimatterlife.wordpress.com/2015/08/23/the-lutheran-rosary/     The top post on this blog

 


In my research for this blog— I read that including links in my posts makes my own post ‘Google’ better— I came across a very new blog by a LCMS (conservative Lutheran) seminarian. He wrote a good post on Luther and the Hail Mary, which is here: https://dsmondayblog.wordpress.com/2017/04/09/the-hail-mary-according-to-martin-luther I think it would be a wonderful idea if all my readers would stop by his blog, read his article, and drop some encouraging words in a comment.

I also ran across an article called Martin Luther’s Devotion to Mary. The author turned out to be a friend of mine, Dave Armstrong, a former Protestant who is now a Catholic apologist. His blog is here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davearmstrong/

Here are two other articles for further reading:

Mother Mary and Martin Lutherhttp://www.interfaithmary.net/pages/mary_Luther.html

Martin Luther believed in devotion to Mary? (James White)http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/2013/10/17/martin-luther-believed-in-devotion-to-mary/

Let’s try mind mapping!

Have you ever tried mind-mapping with your fiction? Or other things? It’s a useful idea. And there is software for it.

Mind mapping is a diagram to illustrate information or ideas— such as plot events that might happen in your novel. You start with a central concept or idea— such is “My novel plot” or “What the heck is this even ABOUT!!!” (Excuse the use of the minced oath ‘heck.’ And two of the three exclamation points.)

You draw a circle around the words and then you think of things that connect— plot ideas, odd thoughts, whatever pops into the brain. Circle those words and draw a line to your original circle.

Then consider each of the ideas, words and concepts you have noted down and connected to your original circle. Find ideas that come from THEM. And put them in circles connected to the circled item to which it relates. Find out more about mind mapping here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mind_map

You can do this on a piece of paper. If you can draw, or at least if you own colored pencils and aren’t afraid to use them, you can do some colorful images as part of the map. But you can also do it using software— some of which is free software.

Yesterday I downloaded one of the free options (because I’m living on a poet’s level income.) Downloading was a horrible ordeal, but in the end I had it on my computer. I clicked on the little butterfly on my desktop, took a look around, and went on the internet to search for a tutorial. I spent some time building up a general ‘brainstorming’ type of mind-map for my current WIP. I thought it was a useful tool.

One big reason it’s useful is that it illustrates your novel ideas in a minimalist way. The way I tend to work is this: In the planning stages I can write long rambling essays about the system of ranks in a space fleet, or how the zombie causative organism can be weaponized. And then before long I have notebooks full of imaginary information and can’t find the important stuff.

I sometimes take my rambling document and rewrite a shorter, more concise version. But, perhaps because I have Asperger Syndrome, it still doesn’t show me the big picture to write shorter documents. A mind map makes it more comprehensible.

I haven’t tried it yet, but I think mind-mapping could be used to generate a working outline for your writing project. You could put your title in the center bubble, and then have ‘daughter’ circles with Act 1, Act 2a, Act 2b, and Act 3 on it. (If you don’t yet know about the 3 act structure, look it up, it’s useful.) For each Act, you can put down your plot ideas. If that big dragon-slaying scene you put in Act 1 really belongs at the beginning of Act 2, you can move it.

It could also be used to generate to-do lists— both for your writing and for your regular life. You can group connected tasks, and the Free Mind software provides little number graphics so you can prioritize your tasks.

Have you tried mind mapping? On paper or with a software tool? How did it work out? Are there things you might try next time to make the experience better or more useful?

Donald Trump and why Young Writers MUST Blog

In the recently completed election cycle, Candidate Donald Trump had the same problem as every other candidate with an “R” after his name: he wasn’t getting a fair shake from the “D” mainstream media.

So the candidate found another way to get the news coverage he needed. He turned to Twitter. And the same mainstream media that didn’t want to cover him other than writing hit pieces in the ‘failing’ New York Times picked up his tweets and read them out to the world.

He got that attention in part because his tweets contained things that got attention. Like giving rude nicknames to his competition— remember ‘Lyin’ Ted’ for Ted Cruz?

 

Young Writers have their own problem in getting the attention they need. In particular, they find it hard to get someone to look at their writing and give them feedback. Sometimes people just won’t look at your writing at all. And in writing classes or critique groups, people may have their own agenda with what they say about your work. Your writing teacher may praise you because you are the best of a bad bunch— or say your work is no good because you don’t care to write ‘literary fiction.’ Some critique group members give the same vague praise to everyone because they want to be nice. Others say negative but untrue things about the work of their writing rivals.

Starting a blog can be a way you can write things and get some people to react to them. It’s going to be slow at first— you may need to write a little something every day for six months before you get as much as a comment saying ‘nice post.’

But if what you are writing is reasonably well written, and your blog has an interesting topic, you will start to get some reactions, both positive and negative. You can increase your number of reactions by doing one little thing— something that Donald Trump did. Write something a bit shocking.

Now, I don’t mean that you should go around calling random people mother-effers or telling them their cats are ugly. Just be less mealy-mouthed. Say things that not everyone will agree with. For example, I might well say that government schools (public schools) in the USA should be disbanded and be replaced with independent church and community schools. Or that “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “The Handmaid’s Tale” are not great literature or even good literature.

If you say things that some people will like and other people won’t, you blog will get more readers and more comments. Maybe even a stalker or two. And you will get lessons into how to write things to which people respond.

Once you get a few people who regularly read your blog, you will start to get a little feedback on your writing. If you misspell important words, people who agree with you may in time point that out. People who disagree— assuming they can spell— will point it out a lot quicker.

There is no other substitute than a blog for getting regular audience reaction. And that reaction will help you build up some skills that you can use throughout your writing career.

Over the long term, the blog you start today can morph into an Official Author Blog and Website. It can be a part of your author platform. And it’s fun. Why not try it?

Young Writers series, post 1


Celebrate!

This week I’m celebrating a revival of my blog. I HAD thought of deleting the whole thing and starting from scratch. But instead I bought a book on blogging and started making plans to make my blog better.

I started blogging very early on— that was many blogs ago. But I’ve made some internet friends through my blog and that’s a good thing.  I started a Facebook account mainly to promote my blog. Now it’s the best way to contact my brother and my aunt and cousins from Arizona.

I’m not sure what this blog is going to be a week from now or a month from now. I haven’t decided on the themes I will use or what the major focus will be. I don’t even know if any of my current blog readers will keep on reading. But that’s the fun of it.

 

This is a post in the Celebrate the Small Things blog hop. Learn more at: http://lexacain.blogspot.com/2015/01/celebrate-small-things.html