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. ūüė¶

 

Looking for a few good writing podcasts

CatholicGeekShow2Podcasts work for me. For years I’ve downloaded radio broadcasts in Esperanto to listen to at my leisure. And lately I’ve been listening to Jimmy Moore’s low carb diet podcasts regularly.

But what about my writing? I could use some writing inspiration on a daily basis. And since I do housework while I listen to podcasts, I could get finally get caught up with the laundry.

I already listen to author Declan Finn’s podcast The Catholic Geek. It’s kind of a chore to listen to because it’s 2 hours long and I’m more oriented toward shorter podcasts. He interviews a lot of sci-fi authors including some I really like, such as Daniella Bova and Karina Fabian.

But I need more writing podcasts! What I want/need is some writing inspiration about the writing process, especially anything aimed at the indie writer.

I’ve tried The Creative Penn and the podcaster, Joanna Penn, has a cool British accent. But she describes her writing as in the vein of the infamous anti-Catholic novel ‘The DaVinci Code.’ As an enthusiastic Catholic convert, I’m not sure how much of that I can take.

Also, The Creative Penn seems to have no problem with ‘erotica.’ As someone educated at a time when the world made more sense, I’m appalled that anyone is willing to talk about reading or writing a porno in a public forum.

I may decide to become a regular listener of The Creative Penn anyway.¬† But I’d like to be able to find other writing podcasts that have what I want without praising pornos or anti-Catholic material. I wonder if there are any Catholic or Evangelical Christian authors who have good podcasts? Other than Declan Finn, of course.


Today is my 12th day on a strict ketogenic diet, and I’m still suffering symptoms of an ailment commonly called ‘the keto flu.’ It’s really just going through withdrawal from sugars and other carbs. When I first went strict low-carb over ten years ago, I had few symptoms, but as I get older it gets worse. Moral— don’t go off the keto diet once you are on it.

Today I listened to the Jimmy Moore low-carb podcast and it featured a lecture by Dr Eric Westman mainly about the use of the ketogenic diet in the treatment of diabetes. Here is the link: http://livinlavidalowcarb.com/blog/the-llvlc-show-episode-1149-dr-eric-westman-2016-low-carb-cruise-lecture/26680


A storage unit for cats.

A storage unit for cats.

Pius Tales/Declan Finn’s Writing Journey

PiusTalesNissaRecently I got a copy of author Declan Finn’s Pius Tales— a collection of short stories related to the Pius Trilogy, a thriller series based on the idea that some not-so-well-hidden secrets about WW2 Pope Pius XII trigger a lot of murders, escapades and explosions. ‘Pius Tales’ continues in the explosive tradition.

But there is a bonus— a series of essays by Declan Finn telling his writing journey of imagining, writing and selling the Pius series. I always like to see how other writers do their work, since the only writer I actually SEE at work is me and I’m not that ‘normal.’ Though I’m not sure any writers are ‘normal.’ We are probably all just different shades of weird.

The origin of the Pius series came when Finn read a book about Pope Pius XII. And then a lot more books. And discovered that in 1960, the history, at least as regards this pope, changed. Before 1960, Pope Pius was the heroic pope that fought against Hitler and saved mass numbers of Jews from the Holocaust. Afterwards, he became ‘Hitler’s Pope.’

Finn includes in his account how he went from his basic idea to find the proper setting (Rome) and the proper character-group to star in his thriller. And then the fun process of trying to get the thing published.

As for the stories in the book: Tinker, Tailor, Goyim, Spy recounts how character Scott Murphy came to join the Mossad. Even though he’s neither Israeli or Jewish.

“Erin Go Boom” tells the story of how Catholic priest Fr. Frank Williams, SJ, manages to stop a terrorist attack on a St. Patrick’s Day parade without using direct deadly force on anyone.

In “Deck the Maul,” Finn blows up Christmas. Or, at least, a shopping mall filled with angry dwarfs, protesting redheads, and, of course, terrorists.

“Oh Little Town of Bethmayhem” starts off with Sean Ryan dangling a bad guy off the Empire State Building, and segues into Scott Murphy infiltrating a terrorist plot in Bethlehem at Christmas time.

I highly recommend this book. It’s a clean read, so you don’t need to worry about the kids reading it when you are not looking. And it’s got explosions. I like explosions.

Declan Finn’s Books on Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Declan-Finn/e/B008I8JO2G

Declan Finn’s Blog: http://apiusman.blogspot.com/

Declan Finn’s FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/A-Pius-Man-a-novel/143750083289


Please consider liking my FB page: https://www.facebook.com/nissalovescats/

Review: Honor at Stake (Vampire Novel)

Honor at StakeHonor at Stake by Declan Finn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Vampire romance is popular these days, but this book is vampire romance for readers who think. How many vampire novels have you read that feature a discussion on philosophy, as it relates to vampires, with references to Thomas Aquinas?

The story is centered on Marco Catalano and Amanda Colt, who meet at Hudson University. One is a vampire, one isn’t. And I suppose telling which is which would be a spoiler.

The story begins with a prologue, in which Marco and his then-girlfriend Lily Sparks, and the violent incident that made Lily into an ex-girlfriend. We then move on to the meeting of Marco and Amanda. Amanda, in spite of her name, is actually Russian, and of course she is beautiful. Sparks— but not Lily Sparks— fly.

We then encounter one of Declan Finn’s patented Clever Chapter Titles: “Always Date Inside Your Species.” Which is a way of raising the question, can a vampire date a human without someone becoming dinner?

Marco, as it turns out, is a feudal lord to a pair of street gangs— the Dragons and Los Tigres— which unlike most street gangs compete to see how many bad guys they can apprehend and turn over to the cops.

Marco introduces Amanda to his father, Dr. Richard Catalano, and invites her to spend Christmas with the family. Richard reports on the murder of a former member of one of Marco’s pet gangs. It is one of a series of vampire murders.

There are some medically unusual things about the vampire killings and Richard sends samples to the CDC. Which action attracts a vampire to the hospital. Marco has to fight the vampire off with a martial art called Krav Maga.

Then there is the matter of the Vatican Ninjas, a vampire fighting force. You see, evidently the Church noticed the sudden demand for holy water and other blessed items from people fighting vampires, and so the existence of vampires is no mystery to them.

The vampire virus is revealed to be parasitic in nature— kind of like vampires themselves. And then there is the late introduction of another character, Merle Kraft, and the useful revelation of how you can up with a 50 gallon drum of holy water when a vampire battle looms.

There is a major battle against the bad vampires, which by no means ends the war, since this book is going to have a sequel (Yay!)

FLAWS IN THE BOOK
(tongue in cheek)

Marco says some rude stuff about Mormons and also does not care for the Twilight series (I liked that series well enough, myself, and some of my imaginary friends are Mormons.)

A priest-character expresses the opinion that ‘no one’ believes in Adam and Eve any more. Which is not accurate since the Catholic Catechism mentions Adam and Eve and the Fall of Man rather than rejecting them. But I contacted the author and he says he ran this concept past a couple of priests. So it is possible a priest would say this.

The Yiddish word ‘schm-ck’ (rhymes with duck) is used. It’s a dirty word in Yiddish.

The Star Trek series is mentioned and the character who does so gets it WRONG! He mentions ‘Kojo the Executioner’ and later corrects it to ‘Chronos the Executioner’. It’s KODOS the Executioner! You know, like Kang and Kodos on the Simpsons.

A character mentions that Boston, as home of the Red Sox, is EVIL. I am a Red Sox fan and therefore know that this is wrong, and that there is a whole other baseball team that is EVIL, and their initials are: New York Yankees. I shall have to get revenge on the fictional character that said this.

CONCLUSION:
This book is an excellent read for anyone who loves vampire fiction. The love story does not get in the way of all the action. And there are no sex scenes or rants featuring foul language, so you don’t have to hide the book from your kids or your parents.

“Sikh and ye shall find.” (For some reason, some people groan at lines like that.)

There is a fair bit of violence mentioned, most either violence committed by evil vampires or violence defending against them.

And this novel represents a return to the vampire traditions of Bram Stoker’s Dracula in the fact that the evil vampires, at least, are vulnerable to holy items.

I can’t wait until the next book in the series comes out. If you read this book, you may feel the same way.

View all my reviews

The Importance of Place in a Writer’s Work

Menominee, Michigan's downtown.

Menominee, Michigan’s downtown.

Imagine a young writer. This young writer has lived all his life in Oconto, Wisconsin. He knows enough about his hometown to write a guidebook to the town. But when he sits down to write, he figures, ‘Writers don’t come from Oconto. Better set the story in someplace more writerly. Like New York City.’ And so the writer struggles, since he’s never been to New York City and only knows it from the novels of Lawrence Block and from watching Law & Order SVU. And he¬†hates¬†Lawrence Block and Law & Order SVU.

Think of the writing of Stephen King. If you are a Christian you may need to hold your nose as you think because King doesn’t exactly hide his bigotry when it comes to Christians. But if you have read King’s work at all you may have noticed what the Important Place in King’s work is: Maine. King is a Maine boy, he knows the towns and the people and the local dialect. He doesn’t have to fake it. He grew up with it. And so his Maine settings are¬†right, and even people in Maine can feel it.

Think again of Charlaine Harris, author of the sometimes porny Southern Vampire series. Again, Christians may not care for her work based on her biases. But she set the series in small-town Louisiana, a setting she grew up with, and this adds a lot to the series.

Declan Finn, author of Honor at Stake

Declan Finn, author of Honor at Stake

A third example, Catholic author Declan Finn, author of A Pius Man and the forthcoming Honor at Stake. Finn set Honor at Stake, a vampire novel, in New York City. Finn is FROM New York City. The setting works for him because he knows it.

But what if you are an army brat? Or, like me, a Kmart brat? If you have lived in many different places you may not know any of them all that well— not well enough to use them as Stephen King uses Maine. But there are ways to make use of place, even if you have a hard time figuring out what ‘hometown’ means to you.

In my own case, as the daughter of a Kmart manager who was transferred to other cities every couple of years, growing up I had one good place. My parents were both from the Upper Midwest. My mother lived in Brillion, Wisconsin growing up— it was where her father ended up when he emigrated from Germany after World War One. And my father was ALMOST from Wisconsin. His hometown was Menominee, in Upper Michigan. If you lived in Menominee, you could just walk over one of the town’s three bridges and be in the twin city of Menominee, Marinette, Wisconsin. I’d recommend the Hattie Street bridge for that little excursion, myself. My dad’s family have lived in Menominee since before 1870. We know this place.

You may not have a town like that. But what about the town where you suffered the horrors of high school? Or the town you live right now? Expand on the knowledge you now have about this setting by visiting the local historical museum, and listening to the fascinating stories of the oldtimers and middle-aged-timers. (If you are a real writer, you’ve already learned that the stories that other people call ‘grandpa’s boring old-time stuff’ is more interesting than half the stuff on television.) With this knowledge, you will have a virtual hometown you can use for fiction.

Other cities and towns may be important enough to you to be of great use in your writing. I’ve lived in four different cities in California: I could probably fake a California setting easily enough. I was in Tacoma, Washington for third through fifth grade, I could use that. I even did a year in Heidelberg, Germany in college. Since I spent my spare time there wandering around the old city and the walking trails nearby, I could do things with that setting.

Heidelberg, Germany

Heidelberg, Germany. I used to go for long walks on hiking trails on the hill above the castle.

If you are a fantasy or science fiction writer you may think that these considerations don’t apply to you. But when you build your wholly fictional places, your hometown serves as a template. Your fictional places will be like your hometown in spots, and quite the opposite in others. Using your hometown and other real-world places as a touchstone, you will better be able to create fictional places that feel real.

 

Friday Update June 26th

Honor at Stake by Declan Finn will be released Sept. 1st, 2015

Honor at Stake by Declan Finn will be released Sept. 1st, 2015

This is a post for the Birth of a Novel blog hop.

My Writing Week:

I have not been as diligent with writing poems and working on short stories this week, although I did get some writing done.

I wrote one sijo poem called No Storm Flags Allowed, which I think has potential. After finishing my short story The Skin Shirt, I wasn’t really sure what to work on. I’ve started a new story about a government regulation that requires everyone to give up their paper books and replace them with ebooks. But I’ve also started a rewrite of an old short story that I finished over a decade ago. It’s hard to decide which one to go with.

I have been networking with my author friends. Daniella Bova, author of Tears of Paradox, contacted me when I rated her books on Goodreads, and I told her how much I enjoyed her books. Declan Finn also contacted me and asked if I’d like a free review copy of his forthcoming vampire novel, Honor at Stake. Since the tagline is: ‘Welcome to New York City, where vampires don’t sparkle…. they burn’, I was utterly thrilled to say yes. (I ‘met’ both Declan Finn and Daniella Bova in the Facebook group Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers, which I started. Anyone who is a follower of Jesus Christ (Catholic, Evangelical, LDS) and writes in the genre is welcome to join.)

I gave both authors the link to my free ebook ‘surly petunia’, a 23 page sampler of some of the poetry I’ve written. It includes some of my weirdest poems— such as ‘alien invasions and the love of lawn furniture’, ‘fat Buddhist spider’ and, of course ‘surly petunia’ itself. Also it includes ‘Wings: Still Life with Asperger Syndrome’. I’m hoping that now that two authors whose books I have reviewed have a chance to read the book, I may soon get my first review on Amazon or Goodreads.

I’m hoping for a few reviews because I’ve decided not to come out with my next small poetry volume until I get at least one review. That one is going to be called ‘Waiting for the Poison Shot’. I have not finalized what poems will be in that one. I already have a book cover designed, though.

So, while I didn’t get a lot of words-on-page this week, I am getting some stuff done towards my career as America’s Weirdest Poet.

birth of a novel

Kitten Update:

Mama kitty Umberto with her kitten, and a few freeloaders.

Mama kitty Umberto with her kitten, and a few freeloaders.

Life’s crazy with 10 barn kittens from 3 mamas in the house. Mother of 4, Consubstantial 2, was brought in and hissed at everybody, including her 4 babies. But Umberto, mother of an only-child kitten, Norbert (a girl), decided more kittens was just what she needed so she adopted all 4, and I let Connie 2 back outdoors. One of the kittens is a calico, like Norbert. I’m trying to resist the temptation to name her Hagrid.

Meanwhile, Consubstantial 1, mother of 5, is annoyed to find that one of her tiny kittens has already learned to escape the kitten box. She has not yet noticed that one of the group-of-4 kittens is jumping in her kitten box and nursing from her with the rest of the tribe.