IWSG: An Aspie Writer’s Take on Social Distancing

Since I have Asperger Syndrome (an autism spectrum disorder,) I have been doing social distancing all my life. I just didn’t know that was what it was called. I just thought of it as being lonely and not having friends and going days and weeks without meaningful social interactions.

This is a post in the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop: https://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/iwsg-sign-up.html

While other people are getting frantic when they have to stay home because of that certain virus, my life is mostly situation normal. I haven’t had a job for years and get along on SSI disability (NOT fun,) I live in a rural area and don’t waste my small amount of money by hanging about in barrooms, and after a lifetime of having social interactions with mean and hostile people, I tend not to even try to socially interact any more.

In fact, the main change in my life is in the direction of MORE social interaction. My friends, with a very few exceptions, are not real-world friends but online friends. And my social media accounts are livelier than normal with many people staying home and sharing memes and rumors about the virus all day.

Being socially isolated can help you concentrate on doing your writing work— if you actually do your writing instead of letting your social media become a time sink. I have recently completed a short non-fiction ebook. Unlike my usual open-ended projects that get bogged down and fail, I planned this project to be a small, time limited one. I gave myself 12 writing days to produce a work that would be 12000 to 24000 words long, which I have read is a good length for a non-fiction ebook.

In reality it took me 17 days, the book turned out to be on the long side of the projected length (which is good), and I had to do 3 more days to transform my Scrivener text into something Kindle Create could work with and to design a cover on Canva.

And now the hard part comes. I don’t really know how to do the social interaction part of doing a book launch, and with my SSI income I can’t hire services to promote my book for me. I don’t know how well the book will do.

But I have already started my next two writing projects. One is another non-fiction, this time about a low-carbohydrate/ketogenic way of eating. The other is science fiction, about a starship which is somewhat lost and encounters a planet where the population is keen on dealing in stolen starship parts. I am not sure, right now, if it’s better to try to work on both at once or to do them one at a time to keep focus. What will happen? Well, you can come back to this blog to find out.

Lenten and Insecure-Writer Greetings,

From Nissa Annakindt & her cats and other critters.

A Click-To-Tweet Experiment

This one’s about my new book, ‘Getting More Blog Traffic: Steps Towards a Happier Blogging Life. Click on the blue bird to tweet about it. (If you want to participate in this experiment.)

Tweet: Learn simple and free secrets to get more traffic to your blog https://ctt.ac/O71HU+ #blogging

 

Should Your Author Blog be a Genre Blog?

So you have an author blog…. Maybe you are not even quite a published author yet. Maybe you started your blog to get a head start on that platform-building thing. But what do you blog about right now, when you don’t have any current book news of your own to crow about?

You might do a mitzvah for your new/just-starting-out writer friends by mentioning their stuff. That’s the right thing to do and it is kind, but just as there are not droves of readers panting for news about your upcoming book yet, other new writers have the same situation.

The solution for many is making a blog that is at least partly a genre blog. If you write Christian romance, you can review the most popular Christian romance books, interview the authors perhaps, talk about what is going on in that genre and subgenre, and build a platform that is right for your own books as well.

The same goes if you write atheist Westerns or cozy mysteries or ‘Young Adult’ dystopian novels. If you have nothing new to say about your own writing at the moment, put your own spin on the rest of the genre. Some people even create a multi-authored genre blog which will serve to help promote all the authors’ works (assuming someone involved in the project can actually get all of the authors involved to post regularly.)

One thing to watch out for— if your take on your own genre is largely negative, a genre blog is not right for you. I have encountered would-be authors of Christian fiction who proclaim that ALL Christian fiction is bad— too ‘edgy’ or not edgy enough, too preachy or not preachy enough, or just plain boring and tame. But if they had a blog and ran their genre down that way, they may convince their readers to give up on ALL Christian fiction, even that written by the blogger!

You need to have a mostly positive view of your genre. You can be against some works in your genre— I hate science fiction works where the story takes second place to collecting politically correct diversity points— but if you don’t have a lot of positive stuff to say about a genre, don’t think you can blog about it and win an audience.

Genre blogs are one choice for you when you have an author blog and are not quite sure what to do about it. Blogging frequently is important if you want to win new readers for your blog; genre blogging can help you build up a readership that is likely to enjoy your actual books when they come out. It’s not the only possible choice, though, so if you have something that works for you, stick with it.

Lenten greetings from,

Nissa Annakindt & her cats & critters


Visit my Facebook page (& I will visit yours): https://www.facebook.com/nissalovescats

Blogging for Homeless People

Because of my ‘poet’s-level’ income, I’ve long had a bit of interest in the lives of homeless people. Years ago I discovered there were homeless people who blogged, and one at least had a book made from her blog that did well enough that she became ex-homeless.

The homelessness thing really hit home after I had a stroke last year. My home was left unattended, my bills went unpaid, and the power and furnace were off so my pipes froze and the house became uninhabitable according to a social worker who was helping me.

Until the pipes got fixed (thanks to the State of Michigan, the St. Vincent de Paul Society, and the Salvation Army) I had to be somewhere else. And due to some interpersonal issues with an angry shirt-tail relative, I ended up in the Menominee homeless shelter, and learned a thing or two about real homeless people. Some of whom are not too ‘crazy’ or impaired to create a blog.

Many homeless people have smartphones these days. There were lines in the common room at the shelter to plug phones in for recharging. Most to all of homeless persons are eligible for government poverty programs which would cover the monthly fee for a cell phone. (My SmartTalk phone plan is about $45 a month, and I think there are plans for even less.)

Homeless people would have to have a free blog from either Blogger or WordPress . com, which is OK. My blogs are free blogs, too. You can post to your blog via smartphone— I put both Blogger and WordPress apps on my phone when I was in the hospital. Blogging from a smartphone is a bit of an annoyance when you are used to using a laptop, but I managed it from a hospital after my stroke.

In the homeless shelter there was not much cell phone reception and no wifi, and since I was only there temporarily and was depressed at the time, I didn’t blog from the shelter. But if I had had to stay longer, there were local places with free wifi, such as the McDonalds. I could have ordered coffee or a bunless burger or breakfast sandwich, and stayed there long enough to write a blog post.

For more lengthy blog-work, one can go to a local library with computers. Go there on days when you have been able to get a shower and freshly laundered clothes, and tell the library folk you are a writer and have a blog (bloggers are writers) and the staff will be glad to help you out and may be honored to have you there. (They may think you are the next J. K. Rowling. They may be right!)

My phone takes pictures and videos. I don’t know how to put these on a blog post while blogging from my phone, but I’m sure I could find the information I needed in an internet search. Pictures and videos can liven up a blog. Be sure you don’t take any identifiable pictures of other people without their permission to use them on your blog! You don’t want to get in trouble and lose your blog over it.

It’s good to compose your blog post on something like Evernote, which is free and is an app for cellphones as well as being online. That way you can cut-and-paste your blog post rapidly to your blogging site, and you have a spare copy of the content in case your free blogging host takes your content down and you have to move it elsewhere. You may also want to save a copy to work into book form.

Attitude is the main roadblock for the homeless blogger. Being homeless is depressing because you feel that if you were a lovable or even likable person, you would have family members or friends who would let you stay with them in times of trouble.

But homelessness happens, and not just to the stereotypical homeless schizophrenic. Blogging can be a tool to help you cope, and it can have a good side effect in that you are raising ‘awareness’ of real homeless people and their real problems. If your blogging doesn’t lift you out of homelessness, it may be a big help to homeless people in general by encouraging more charitable giving.

And what if you don’t happen to be homeless? Let the example of homeless bloggers inspire you. If a homeless person can manage to blog, you can surely do it. And so can I.

Have you ever blogged during tough times? From unlikely locations? Tell us in a comment!

 

Lenten greetings to all my readers, friends & frenemies, from me & my cats, chickens & Attila the gander,

Nissa Annakindt

Visit my Facebook page (& I will visit yours): https://www.facebook.com/nissalovescats

What is a CTA?

Have you ever run across the term ‘CTA?’ Sometimes I’ve seen that acronym used as if everyone knows what it means. Well, everyone doesn’t know. It means ‘call to action,’ and it’s a MARKETING term and book/blog marketing is scary, isn’t it?

A ‘call to action’ doesn’t have to be scary, hard-core marketing buy-my-book-or-send-me-money stuff. It can just be a polite request, to people whose attention you already have, to do something that will help you out, or help someone else out..

I sometimes end a blog post with the request that people visit my Facebook or Twitter pages. People don’t have to do that to be my friends. It’s just that sometimes people who are enthusiastic FB or Twitter users might actually WANT to do that.

I often ask a few questions at the end of a blog post to let people know that I would enjoy reading a comment if anyone cares to make one. Some shy folks might need a little encouragement like that to post a comment, and they may have things to say that are of great interest.

Sometimes books have a CTA at the end, in which the author suggests that the reader leave an Amazon review for their book. This is a good idea since authors DO benefit a lot from reader reviews, and many readers have no clue that this is important or desired.

A CTA does not have to be promoting one’s own stuff. If you mention some other author’s book as an example and you put in a link to the book, or if you mention another good blog in your niche with the suggestion that readers of your blog visit it, that is also a CTA and an unselfish one.

A CTA can be subtle, and it can mention ‘actions’ which benefit the reader rather than the blogger/author. Example: a pastor writing a blog aimed at new Christians might mention the custom of having a daily ‘quiet time’ of Bible-reading and prayer as the Christian norm. It’s not a hard-core start-daily-Bible-reading-NOW message. More of a hint.

Writing a CTA in a blog post or as a book ending can be a useful trick. It can help your readers know something they can do to enrich the interaction between you. It should probably be a polite ‘ask’ rather than a hard-sell, though.

Do you ever use a CTA or something like it in your blogging or writing life? Has it worked for you, or not?

WARNING: CTA!

Could you kindly visit the page on this blog where author FB pages are listed, and visit any one from the list? Perhaps you might ‘like’ the page, and perhaps even write a comment on something on that page. Here is the link: https://myantimatterlife.wordpress.com/fb-author-pages/   

Thank you for visiting/reading my blog,

Nissa Annakindt

IWSG: Family traditions or family trauma?

Family traditions or family trauma? Which create more fodder for the writer? Happy, traditional-celebrating families are all the same, but every family suffers its traumas in a unique way. Your family’s happy family vacation in Yosemite won’t lead to any writing other than a grade school essay, but if your dad went to prison, your mom was an alcoholic, your childhood cat had kittens on the toilet seat cover, and a famous serial killer stole your beloved pink bicycle, rejoice! Your past is full of things to write about!

[This is a post in the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop: https://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/ .The question for the event is: ‘Other than the obvious holiday traditions, have you ever included any personal or family traditions/customs in your stories?’ And I’m not ignoring the question this time.]

Good writing aims at creating emotion in the reader, and traumatic events tend to produce more intense and lasting emotions than happy little memories. That time you were stalked by the campus rapist? Pure gold for the writing-you that you are today. Your happy fifth-birthday party? Not so much.

Writing is one way to help yourself through a trauma, major or minor. When family member X shamed me at a family gathering, I went home and wrote furiously on something. Not a something directly inspired by the being-shamed event, not even close. But I wrote and it was intense and it helped. Very shortly after that event there was a death in the family and I had to interact with family member X as if nothing had happened though I’m sure it was expected that I would assume that I had been in the wrong and be very ashamed of myself. (Still not ashamed.)

I was blessed by having an intact family that stayed intact until my father’s death from natural causes, and we were generally happy. But in every family some minor trauma flows, and some trauma that no one could prevent. Grandparents and great-aunts died, there were tornadoes in the campground we planned to stay in on our trip through the country, and there were a lot of little things that went wrong that seemed much bigger and more intense when I was a child.

Even when I’m not writing something that strikes similar emotional chords to my family trauma-events, it is a part of my past and therefore of who I am, and thus is a part of my writing life.

My Facebook author page: (Please visit & ‘like!’) https://www.facebook.com/nissalovescats

5 Blogging Missteps And How To Avoid Them

Many people start a blog because they are told that they need to. If you are an author you need an author blog. If you own a business you need a business blog. So people set up a blog— or spend money to have one set up for them— and then they don’t know what to do with it. They don’t get any response on their blog because they make a blogging misstep that gets in their way.

  1. Not Turning Comments On. I have seen many lonely blogs with this problem. The blog owner may not know how to turn the comments on, or may have turned comments off for some reason. THIS IS A MISTAKE. Turn the comments back on. When the comments are on, you do have the potential for receiving spam comments. The Akismet spam comment on WordPress blogs does a good enough job to prevent spam comments. On Blogger blogs, set it so you do not allow anonymous comments. Commenters must have a Google account to comment. Most people who want to write a legit comment already have a Google account. There is also a thing you can set to make people prove they are human before commenting. I haven’t had good experience with this— and after a few failed tries I may give up on leaving a comment altogether.
  2. Bland Blog Posts. Some people think you have to be bland and uncontroversial and create blog posts that cannot offend anyone. Well, in this age which rewards the constantly offended, there is no such thing as an inoffensive blog post. Since you are going to offend anyway, you might as well give up the bland, express yourself, and maybe win over some readers. You don’t have to tell everyone to go to Hades. Just a select few who have earned it. Your blog posts cannot be bland if you want to ‘hook’ readers with them. Make some waves— in a relatively civil way, I hope. Or at least a way that avoids death threats that require FBI attention.
  3. Forgetting What Blog Readers Want. Blog readers want bits of information or perhaps entertainment for free— that’s what they look at your blog for. If your blog does nothing but ‘tease’ for your books/ebooks that the blog reader has to pay for, you are not giving the blog readers what they want and they will move on to a blogger that does. Don’t be stingy with the products of your writer’s mind. When you use up your current set of writing ideas, more will come into your mind. You can come up with useful blog posts every single day plus create the content for the books you will be selling. Lots of people do.
  4. Not Sharing Blog Post to Social Media. When I write a blog post, it gets put up on Facebook and Twitter, perhaps Gab or MeWe, and Bloglovin’. I actually started off on Facebook and Twitter because I read that was a good way to promote my blog posts. I learned, of course, that they were so much more that that. You have to cultivate your presence on the social media you use, which means that you have to limit how many you are active on. If there were 100 competitors for Facebook out there, you wouldn’t have the time to use them all! Each social medium requires that you check in with it, share or retweet a lot of other people’s stuff, and do things to be a part of that community. The advantages to using them for your blog posts is that they will give each blog posts some internet links, which will in turn make your blog posts more discoverable.
  5. Not Blogging Regularly. If you add new posts to your blog once in a blue moon, your blog is only visible once in a blue moon, and to a limited supply of people. One blogging ‘expert’ says that a new blog must post three times a day until 1000 blog posts are made. Do you do that? Do you do even one post a day? If you only rarely blog, your blog will receive no attention and it will wither on the vine. You might be better off not having a blog but doing guest posts on the blogs of others. Or perhaps you could participate in a multiple-blogger blog. For most of us, we will want to up our blogging frequency as a part of building up a good daily writing habit.

Are you ‘guilty’ of any of the blogging missteps? Don’t feel guilty about it! Change what you are doing— even if it’s only one little thing like turning your blog comments back on— and your blog will get just that little bit better. Make a few changes like that, as you learn of things you can do to make your blog better, and your blog will really start to shine.

IWSG: Pictures & Conversations

How do your writing ideas— fiction or non-fiction ideas— come into your head? I know I often ignore that aspect of my writing life. But as I look back on my process, I find that my ideas come in the form of pictures and conversations.

This is a post in the monthly blog event of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group— visit their blog here:

PICTURES

Mental pictures are particularly important to my fiction life. I see a race of people who can change their skin color by changing their shirts, or a starship with a large forest in the center of it, or an animate showerhead and toilet. In my current fictional WIP, the guiding picture is a group of naked Jewish people in a Nazi gas chamber, and a portal to another world opens and a group of Catholic monks from that world hustle the people out of the chamber and into the other world. And then, there is a dragon….

I’m not really a visual thinker, so these mental pictures have vague spots— I couldn’t draw a picture of them, even if I was a skilled artist. There are only a few parts of the picture that are clear and visual at the moment I get the idea. Though concentration on the image and the related story make more things come clear. These pictures  are helpful when the writing chore of describing things comes along.

CONVERSATIONS

Conversations and speeches have a constant place in my head, and I use them both for my fiction writing and my non-fiction blog posts. Fictional conversations, or dialog, are a way to draw people into a story. They can’t replace other elements like description, which keeps the reader oriented in the story. A story with conversations but no description, set in a magic forest or a high-tech spaceship, may lead the reader to forget the setting and wander out of the story, bored.

Conversations can’t be written down just as they first occur in your head. My head-conversations often have vague, unnamed participants and a Byzantine backstory which intrudes into the conversation. Part of the reason for a writer’s reading life is to get a sense as to how to include conversations without neglecting the rest of the story, or distracting from it.

My non-fiction ideas come not so much as dialog but as set speeches, as if I were giving a lecture on the topic. When I have a blogging idea, I rehearse in my head the things I might say about it. As a child my version of this— before I was actively writing non-fiction— was to compose letters in my head to ‘Dear Abby.’ (I didn’t know at the time that ‘Dear Abby’ was a euthanasia advocate who promoted ‘living wills’ for that reason, or that her twin sister was ‘Ann Landers.’)

The main point to remember is that however your ideas come into your head, they have to be worked out a bit before you set them down on paper. You may neglect to mention important things about a character in your head-images because YOU already know those things. But sometimes the reader really needs to know your character is a cockroach.

HELP! My blog is not doing so well lately, and I’d like to ask a favor— either share a post from this blog to your Twitter, MeWe or Facebook, or share one from some OTHER blog. I don’t really care which blogger you help out in this way, just help one of us. Thanks.

If you REALLY like me, you could always follow me on Twitter. I follow back unless you are Nancy Pelosi, or naked in your profile picture. https://twitter.com/nissalovescats