Facebook Introduce Embedded Posts

Facebook are rolling out another update... and this one has HUGE potential. Facebook announced today that they are introducing embedded posts. This feature is currently only available to a few of the big news publishers but should be becoming more wide spread for the rest of us soon.

What does it mean?

It means you'll be able to easily embed Facebook posts directly on to your website or blog. Your readers will then be able to like, share and comment on your post directly from your site. There is also a nice feature where they can 'like' your Facebook page.

N.B. You will only be able to embed public posts.

Facebook offers some advice about finding posts to embed on their blog and also highlights the importance of using hashtags on your posts in order to show up well in search results.

Are you excited about this new feature? Are you already using hashtags on your Facebook posts? Will you be embedding posts when the feature becomes available?

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10 Unexpected Social Media Tips from Dr Seuss

Dr Seuss is well known for his wise words but did you know he gave good advice for how to use social media? This infographic by Ghost Tweeting gives a nice summary of 10 unexpected social media tips from Dr Seuss.

Dr. Seuss: 10 Unexpected Social Media Tips

Which is your favourite bit of advice from Dr Seuss?

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The Simple Answer to the Eternal Question

I keep seeing some form of the same question on writing forums: How can I be successful as an independent author?
The answer is the same, no matter how much people wish it wasn’t. It’s the same if you are any form of artist or entertainer.
1. Keep writing, and keep improving your writing
2. Make your work easily available at a good price.
3. Promote your work, and keep learning how to promote better
4. Repeat the above ad infinitum, while improving some more
1-4 above are necessary, but not sufficient. The last piece is:
5. Get lucky
But you will make some of your own luck by doing 1-4 the best you can. In poker terms, you must put yourself in a position to get lucky.
Some folks will never get lucky and break out and catch on, and that’s sad. Some classic writers or artists never had much success in their own lifetimes. That’s how it goes. Life ain’t fair. But if you keep at it, the chances of your work catching on, at least enough to make a living, keeps growing.
It’s also very easy to sabotage yourself. Let me give you an example. I recently looked at a writer’s blog post. It essentially bemoaned the fact that the author had written about ten books and was still only making 5-600 dollars a year. You know what? I immediately looked at the books and diagnosed the problem. Unfortunately I was not able to get ahold of the author – no e-mail or contact widget, and posting on the blog comments go no response.
But what was the author’s problem? Let’s compare to the list above.
1. Keep writing, and keep improving your writing
The books all seem to be well written from my look at the samples, with just a few formatting issues, but not enough to kill sales. Good covers, good titles, a good name or pen name.
Okay, #1, check.
2. Make your work easily available at a good price.
5 of 9 books are listed for $9.99 ebook price.
One is 5.95, two are 2.99, and one is free.
Whoah. Anyone see a problem here?
If I could give advice I would say, drop all ebook prices to 2.99, which would likely triple sales right off, and the author her up for future success. I bet there would be ten times the number sales within a year, and more money. 100 copies a month with a ten book backlist is not difficult.
All the promotion in the world won’t overcome something being overpriced. I bet there are people that read the free book or the $2.99 books and then see the price of the others and say, “well, those books were good but I’m not paying that much.” And those people that stop at the cheap books are not going to recommend to friends, or at least, not beyond the cheaper books.
To reiterate, the dichotomy between giving away one book and overcharging for others is killing sales. It’s like MacDonald’s giving away free burgers but charging $10 for a shake. You ain’t gonna sell many shakes. People will walk in, buy the cheap thing, and ignore the expensive thing.
3. Promote your work, and keep learning how to promote better
It appears from what I can tell that the author is promoting quite a lot. This person claims 20,000 twitter followers. If one in 100 bought one book per month at $2.99, sales would pick up. So promotion is not the problem. I refer back to #2. The author has to compete on price. With established authors and tradpubs slashing prices on all but the hottest bestsellers, who is going to buy these books over one of the other thousand writers of the same genre out there who write equivalently good books?
4. Repeat the above ad infinitum, while improving some more
There’s nothing quite like persistence. I know a guy who’s making a living selling ebooks. He wrote and stored novels for over twenty years, piling up rejections from tradpubs. Then he went the self-pub independent route and now he sells thousands of copies a month. It took over twenty years to reach his dream, which was to quit his day job and write for a living.
He didn’t give up. I’m not either. Will you?
David VanDyke is a former US Army Airborne enlisted soldier and, later in life, a US Air Force officer. He served in and out of combat zones all over the world in the 1980s through the 2000s. He lives on the East Coast with his wife and three dogs.
If you are an established reader/reviewer, please contact the author at one of the places below to obtain a free review copy of any of his works.
David VanDyke is also a technical writer and freelance proofreader, copy and content editor. 
More details about the author & the book
Connect with David Van Dyke on Facebook &  Twitter
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Rock Your Social Media in 30 Minutes a Day

When it comes to social media one of the most common complaints I hear from writers is "I don't have enough time". We're all aware that marketing via social platforms is a necessity in today's world but creating content consistently, commenting on other peoples posts and replying to comments on older posts takes time.

I'm not sure that 30 minutes a day would really be enough (can you imagine only being on Facebook for 6 minutes?!). That said this infographic by Pardot does highlight the need for a marketing strategy and offers some nice time saving tips.

infographic via Pardot

How much time do you spend on social media a day? Do you think you could realistically spend just 30 minutes a day marketing on social media and still get good results?

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Strategies for Effective Tweeting

Twitter is one of the leading social media sites around. A valuable resource both for marketing and building your author brand, and for keeping up with the latest industry news. 

When used correctly Twitter can be a very powerful tool. In this slideshow by Buddy Media you'll be able to find loads of information and tips about strategies for effective tweeting.

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Lessons learned the hard way by a new author, don’t sweat the little stuff, just write…

I stare at a blank screen every morning wondering how I’m going to fill it with words. As a new author, it’s intimidating—wrestling with dialogue, picturing landscapes in remote regions I’ve never visited, developing characters readers will love, or just getting enough words typed so I feel a sense of accomplishment for the day. Author Neil Gaiman says it best, being a writer is a very peculiar sort of a job: it's always you versus a blank sheet of paper (or a blank screen) and quite often the blank piece of paper wins.

New writers are obsessed with how-to… How to organize. How to stay focused. How to plot. How to pace. How to edit. How to write the perfect query. I’m sure there’s a recipe for success. I don’t want to know it. I’m beautifully undisciplined and disorganized. And so are half the writers I know. Every author finds his/her groove.

The best advice I received during this whole debut novel process was shut up and write. Don’t burden yourself with classes or too much research. Don’t spend too much time marketing and reading other people’s work. Focus on the most important thing. Write. Write. Write.

There are days I have to remind myself the dog can feed himself (not really) or my husband can operate the stove and wash dishes. Friends will be there when I’m done. No, the person calling can’t see me sitting at the table working—don’t feel guilty for not answering the phone. Yes, the sun will come up tomorrow if I choose writing over anything else. It’s not selfish. It’s simply the path I chose. And now that my first novel is finished, I can definitively say, don’t sweat the little stuff, just write.

Violetta Rand
Violetta Rand holds a bachelor's degree in Environmental Policy and a master's degree in Environmental Management. Serving as an environmental scientist in the state of Alaska for over seven years, she enjoys the privilege of traveling to remote places few people have the opportunity to see.

Violetta has been "in love" with writing since childhood. Struck with an entrepreneurial spirit at a young age, at five, she wrote short stories illustrated by her best friend and sold them in her neighborhood. The only thing she loves more than writing is her wonderful relationship with her husband, Jeff. She enjoys outdoor activities, reading whatever she can get her hands on, music, and losing herself in the ancient worlds she enjoys bringing to life in the pages of her stories.

Violetta will award a $25 Amazon Gift Card to one randomly drawn commenter so I encourage you to follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here: 
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Interview with Marie Romero Cash

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I’m sure it wasn’t something I thought about growing up in Santa Fe. It was enough to get through school each day and go home to do chores. As an adult, I didn’t have time to read much, raising three children and working full-time. It wasn’t until I was reaching my early fifties that I began to fiddle with putting my thoughts on paper. These thoughts led to questions, and the answers led to more questions. Before too long I had enough answers to create articles and then books. Beginning a college education around that same time required mandatory reading, and I was hooked. First on research and then on writing for pleasure. 

What genre do you write and why? 
I started off writing books about the craft and culture of New Mexico, followed by a memoir about growing up in Santa Fe in the 1950s, and now I write mysteries.  I love the challenge of putting together a story and leading the reader through a wild goose chase hoping they will keep turning the pages.

Tell us about your latest book. 
Treasure Among the Shadows is the third Jemimah Hodge mystery I have written. The story is loosely based on an actual treasure hunt instigated by an art dealer from Santa Fe who has buried a metal box somewhere in the Southwest.  My characters are given the task of solving the murder of an archaeologist who has it in her mind that she knows exactly where the treasure is buried.  I’ve included a whole slew of miscreants who may or may not be the killer.

What marketing methods are you using to promote your book?  
Book signings, emails, word of mouth, Facebook, and relying on my publisher, Camel Press, to put out the word on their fabulous website. Also participating in this web tour. It’s a great experience and is certainly reaching out there.

What formats is the book available in? 
Soft cover, downloads.

What do you like to do when you're not writing? 
I am a full-time artist and have been perfecting my craft for thirty-five years.  I spend a lot of time in my studio, carving small and large figures, some religious, some folk-artish. I enjoy hanging out at one of the local Santa Fe coffeehouses, sipping iced tea and watching people as they interact with each other. I also love my dog, Milly, a Border Collie Lab cross and enjoy spending time with her in my studio as I work and outdoors for short walks around my neighborhood.

Who are your favourite authors? 
Michael McGarrity, John Sandford, Robert Parker, and a slew of women writers who have inspired me to keep moving forward, Patricia Cornwell and Sue Grafton included.

What advice do you have for other writers? 
If you are serious about writing, you must read every chance you get, not only well-known authors, but also newcomers to the craft and national contest winners. Doing this, you can perfect your own craft by observing how each author sets up the story.  Make your characters believable, but also make them memorable.

What's your favorite quote about writing/for writers? 
There is always room for one more bestseller! Believe in yourself and go for it.

What's the best thing about being a writer? 
I get to spend a lot of time creating imaginary characters based on people I’ve met. The recognition is a bonus, when someone comes up to me and says, “I read your latest book and I just loved it!”

Where can people find out more about you and your writing? 
By checking out the Camel Press website and following the link to my blog.

Anything else you'd like to add?  
Thank you for taking time to read. Now take the time to get to know my writing by ordering my books!

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To Outline or not to Outline

There is no one right way to tell a story.   While some authors require an extensive outline before they start any project and some authors never outline, I think most authors do both depending on what the project is.   There are advantages and disadvantages to each, and for authors like me who do both, it all depends on the story itself.   I took two opposite approaches with my two latest projects: my recently released Blood, Smoke and Ashes, and my work in progress, Bloodlines.
Blood, Smoke and Ashes was inspired when I was watching Auction Hunters.  I decided it would be fun to have a story based around something someone found in a storage unit.  I created several characters, and villain, and let the characters write the story.  I had no idea how it was going to end when I started.  I had no idea who was going to live or die.  Funny thing is, halfway through the story, I had an idea of where it was going.  How it was going to end.  But then I had a pivotal scene on the stairs between mother and daughter.  And I said to myself: Hmmm… what would happen if the daughter did this… It changed the whole course of the story, and once again I had no idea how it was going to end.  But I was happy I made this change because the final product was much better for it.  Without an outline you, as the author, are more likely to let evolving characters and situations dictate the story instead of you forcing the characters to do things for the sake of the finale.
Of course, the downsides to not plotting… it requires A LOT more rewrites.  As Blood, Smoke and Ashes  evolved, I realized that I had to go back and change a lot of earlier details to fit the new narrative.  It was a lot of work.  And of course, if you are writing a mystery or police procedural or something highly structured, it would be much more difficult, if not impossible, to do it without an outline.  But for the horror and thrillers I write, where the end is NOT as important as the trip, I find that an outline can sometimes keep me too focused, to rigid, and not allow me to adapt as circumstances demand.
Now, Bloodlines… Bloodlines was originally intended to be a serial.  And it may still be a serial.  It is four parts: Abomination, Brutalization, Corruption and Damnation (and maybe a fifth, Extinction, if necessary).  Because I intended for this to be a serial, I needed to outline it.  You can’t wander too far with a serialized story because you don’t have the ability to go back and change what was already written.  You are locked into whatever happened in the previous episode and must use that as the basis for what comes next.  So you need to have a firm idea of what is going to happen.
I remember the show LOST.  I loved LOST.  Well, the first 3 seasons.  After that… I felt the writers had no clear direction, no outline, and the story began to border on the ridiculous. The writers couldn’t go back and say, “That was a bad idea, let’s fix it.”  You can only go forward.   And sometimes the end result is not ideal.
The main advantage to outlining a book is obvious: every time you sit down to write, you know exactly where you are going.  There is no guessing.  No writer’s block.  Just fill in the details.  You know where you are, you know where you are going, you know what story you want to tell.  There are very few surprises and little indecision.
The main downside to extensive outlining is, especially if you’ve spent hours upon hours plotting out the book, you may be less likely to veer of your path as you write, even if inspiration hits.  Even if you feel that a particular change would be good for the story or be more logical.  After all, if you’ve invested hours on an outline… if you start changing things, change the decisions characters make or plot elements, then that outline may be garbage.  And that can be scary, to throw away lots of hard work and set your project back weeks or months, even if it will make the story better.  Sometimes the best stories are written when it is open-ended.
As with most things in life, there are no right or wrong answers, just a differing of opinion.  What works for one author doesn’t necessary work for another.  I can’t work without music in the background and I’ve talked to others who can’t work with any noise.  When it comes to writing a story, you need to consider what works for you and what works for that particular story.  Don’t think that there is only one way to do it.

Brad Convissar is a dentist by day, a writer of dark fiction at night, and a father, husband, and not-so-proud pet owner when time permits.
He is the author of several dozen short stories, four novellas, and will be releasing his first novel, Blood, Smoke and Ashes, a supernatural thriller, in early 2013.
He was born in Georgia, but moved to southern New Jersey before he could be forced to be an Atlanta Braves fan. He spent his formative years living outside of Philadelphia where he latched on to the Philly sports teams and was promptly disappointed for almost twenty years. He spent his college years in New Orleans, where he earned his bachelor's degree in evolutionary biology at Tulane University, then relocated to lovely Newark New Jersey, where he earned his DMD.

After eight years of bouncing around, Brad finally settled down back in south Jersey, only miles from the house he grew up in. He is happily married and the proud father of two children. He is also "dad' to a diabetic, half-blind eight-year-old daschund named Friday who is little more than a lump on the couch most of the time.

When not filling cavities or performing root canals or extracting teeth or fabricating dentures, or writing, he spends his time playing with his kids, playing video games, reading comic books, reading non-illustrated books, and impotently rooting on his beloved Philadelphia Phillies or less than beloved Philadelphia Eagles.

His favorite authors are, but not limited to, Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Clive Barker, Richard Matheson, Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child, Simon Green, Jim Butcher, and Jeffery Deaver. He likes to think he learned something of the art of writing from each of these authors.

More details about the author & the book
Connect with Bradley Convissar on Facebook & Twitter
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What are YOU writing?

I thought it would be nice to give you all some extra space and encourage a discussion so today's post is all about you. What are YOU writing? Tell us about your current work in process. A novel? A poem? A blog post? A film script? What ever your project, let us know.

Suffering from writers block? Is something blocking your creativity?

Share and discuss with each other what you're writing about and how it's going.

Feel free to include the link to your article or share your website or blog url that has more details about what you're writing at the moment.

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Facebook Wall Chat with Authorgraph creator Evan Jacobs

Today I have a special treat for all of you that follow the Writers and Authors page on Facebook.  At 8 pm CET (you can check all time conversations here but I've also added a count down widget below) my special guest will be Evan Jacobs, the creator of Authorgraph (you might also know it by it's old name Kindlegraph). 

I know I have a lot of questions for Evan. If you'd like to ask Evan your own question during the chat you are welcome to post it directly to the comments thread (I'll pin the chat to the top of the page so it's easy for everyone to find ;)).

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Writer’s Fatigue

Some time ago I was chatting with writer friend T.L. Shreffler on the phone about plotting (confession: I was picking her brain about how she plots series). As we were talking, she mentioned that she was just coming off an awesome writing spree where she’d been really productive, and now she was having a hard time focusing and enjoying her writing. As with me, when the joy of writing isn’t there, her writing feels flat, which means a great deal more revision and editing to get it to where she needs it. Not fun.

A couple months ago, I found myself in the same place. I had just sent off the ARCs for my upcoming release, fine-tuned the formatting, and gave myself a few nights “off” reading and putzing around the internet. Now it was time to buckle down to writing Book Two, and it was like trying to herd cats when you don’t even want to herd them. I’d been thinking these characters for months, working intensely on Sunbolt (Book One) to all hours of the night, and I was just tired of it. As Shreffler said about herself, I had Writer’s Fatigue.

The question in such a situation is, what to do? I expect it’s different for every author. (How’s that for an answer?) For me, I figured my mind was simply tired of engaging with the struggles my characters faced. Not that I don’t care about them, I just needed a change. So I did a sewing project, read books to my three year old, kept thinking about and poking at my story, and a few nights later I suddenly found myself pondering the well-known fairy-tale “The Princess and the Pea.”

I’m a fairy tale enthusiast, and I found it curious that this tale has very few YA-targeted retellings. The more I thought about it, the more excited I got. So at 10:30 pm I opened up a new word doc, and BAM. Three hours later I had a new short story—light, fun, and with a clear happily-ever-after. I say that because it hit me that absolutely none of those words can be used to characterize my series. The Sunbolt Chronicles is fast-paced, dark and the endings are shadowed. There will eventually be a happily-ever-after, but not till the end of the series. This realization brought out the true source of my writer’s fatigue: I was emotionally and mentally drained from the toll my poor characters had taken. As much as they needed the story-space between books to build themselves up and take on a new adventure, I needed space as well.

In a nutshell: don’t underestimate the power your stories have to affect you. If you find yourself with writer’s fatigue, take a moment to ask what is really affecting you. It may be the opposite of me: your stories are lighthearted and fun and you’re in a hard place in your life; writing them becomes exhausting because they take all your reserves. Or it could be something else entirely. Whatever the case may be, give yourself permission to take a break from your current writing project. Keep writing, just try something different, something that will help you recharge so that you can come back to your initial project after a week or two, ready to write again.

Intisar Khanani grew up a nomad and world traveler. Born in Wisconsin, she has lived in five different states as well as in Jeddah on the coast of the Red Sea. She first remembers seeing snow on a wintry street in Zurich, Switzerland, and vaguely recollects having breakfast with the orangutans at the Singapore Zoo when she was five. She currently resides in Cincinnati, Ohio, with her husband and two young daughters. Until recently, Intisar wrote grants and developed projects to address community health with the Cincinnati Health Department, which was as close as she could get to saving the world. Now she focuses her time on her two passions: raising her family and writing fantasy. Intisar is hard at work on two new projects. The first is a companion trilogy to her debut novel Thorn, following the heroine introduced in her free short story The Bone Knife. The second project, The Sunbolt Chronicles, is a novella series following the efforts of a young mage as she strives to bring down her nemesis, a corrupt and dangerous Arch Mage who means to bring the Eleven Kingdoms under his control.

Connect with Intisar on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/booksbyintisar
Connect with author and artist T.L. Shreffler: http://www.facebook.com/tlshreffler 

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Review: Azyea's Gifts by Amanda Holden

Title: Azyea's Gifts
Author: Amanda Holden

Reviewed by Jo Linsdell

Azyea trys to find the perfect gift for her mum but despite her hard work they don't turn out quite as planned. Her mum finds the gifts and Azyea learns that they were perfect all along because of the thought behind them and the effort she put into creating them.

A nice lesson for kids accompanied by cute illustrations. My kids enjoyed it and I'm giving bonus points as it inspired them to make some gifts for me including collecting some flowers when we went to the park ;)


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