The Goddess of Love

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This week, instead of a guest post, I thought I’d share a project in which I participated some years ago. The website is now defunct, unfortunately, but it was a really cool idea. People were invited to submit stories which they related to a certain song. The website was Jams Bio, and while you read the story online the song played in the background. I was actually requested to record this story for the website, which I did. This was the first record I ever owned.

This, and other stories I wrote for Jams Bio, appear in the collection Musical Chairs-A Jamming Bio.

The Goddess of Love

I will always remember the day I found out how men and women have sex.

The funky beat of The Shocking Blue screaming about Venus and the Goddess punctuates my stepsister’s attempt to educate me about the physical act of lovemaking.

“Are you kidding? People really do that?” The Goddess on a mountain top, was burning like a silver flame…

She nods. “See, the boy gets like this. Then, he tries that.” The summit of Beauty in love, and Venus was her name…

I’m puzzled. I’m more than puzzled, actually, I’m morbidly curious and a little bit grossed out, if you want to know the truth.

“Why? Ick.”

“It feels good.” She’s got it. Yeah, baby, she’s got it.

“How do you know?” At sixteen, she’s the Goddess of All Knowledge, for me. Every word is Gospel, every pronouncement The Word as I knew it. We sit at the kitchen table in the dingy apartment on Clark Street, windows open to the hot air of summertime. Sissy draws crude figures on my notebook cover; I would study these later, like Egyptian hieroglyphics.

“I just know. Pay attention.” She taps the pencil in the notebook. The 45 spins on the turntable, and The Shocking Blue continues their hymn to the Goddess of Desire. My foot taps in rhythm. I feel the beat in my blood. Sissy’s pencil keeps time.

She drones on, pointing to this part of the picture and that part; I’m singing with the band and imagining a stage, a sparkly dress, a microphone. I’m your Venus, I’m your fire, at your desire…

The music swirls and jives, and I can’t take it anymore. Jumping up, I dance around the kitchen and Sissy laughs. I pull her up and make her dance with me. We shimmy and shake until we’re breathless with exertion and laughter.

Collapsing on the kitchen chair and gasping for air, I say, “Play it again!” and Sissy laughs.

The phone rings and Sissy curls up on the couch to discuss with her best friend how difficult it is to teach a little sister about sex. I ignore the snide remarks and snickering, replacing Venus on the turntable and study the pictures.

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Read And Return–Guest Post

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Full disclosure: When I was setting my calendar for guest posts, I noticed this particular date. Not that I wanted to notice, because this date has come around a number of times I’d rather avoid counting. I almost skipped it entirely. But then, I thought, who better to post on this day than my own kid?

I should have known she was going to make me cry. Rotten kid.

Read and Return

Today just happens to be Annetta’s birthday. Shhhh, don’t tell her I’m the one who spilled the beans.

Of course, being her birthday made me think of gifts and gifts made me think of my favorite gifts I’ve ever received and that’s when I realized my Mom has given me everything. Absolutely everything.

When I was about ten years old, I remember Mom walking up to me and saying, “Follow me.” I asked where we were going, but I got no answer. She lead me up the stairs, all sixteen of them, into her bedroom and in front of her massively huge bookshelf without saying a single word. This bookshelf went from floor to ceiling and was as wide as half the wall. Every inch of the thing was covered in books. Double rows of hardcover books, stacks and stacks of paperbacks. To me, a mere girl at the time, it looked gargantuan and totally awesome. I remember thinking how lovely they smelled. The sun was shining in through the window and I saw little specks of dust floating on the air. But there was no dust on these books.

She looked at them for a moment, and then handed me a little yellow book called “The Faun and the Woodcutter’s Daughter” by B. L. Picard. Mom gave me instructions to read the book and return it to her when I was finished.

Faun and Woodcutter's Daughter

I followed her instructions, and I loved the book. It’s a collection of fairy tales that are unique and wonderful. When I was finished, I brought the book back to her and she said once again, “Follow me.” Upstairs we went, into her room, to the gigantic bookcase where she took the book from my hands and promptly placed another one in it. She gave me the same instructions–read and return.

I don’t remember how long that exchange went on before I started picking my own books, but since the day she handed me that first yellow book, I can not remember a single day where I’ve not been reading. That moment turned into a constant chain of books for me, one right after the other, and has continued for almost twenty years.

When I hear parents tell me they wish they could give their children everything, I tell them this story. You can give your children everything and so much more. The gift my mom gave me is endless, bottomless, boundless. There is no world I cannot explore, there is no character I cannot meet, there is no time period I cannot visit, there is no hope or dream or idea I can’t experience through the written word. She opened every door for me, and through that door is everything.

Do you want to give your children everything? Give your children books, people. Give them a love of reading. I can think of no better way to enrich their lives. And I know there is no other way to give them everything.

That day, which I still remember with such clearness, I was given a wonderful gift, a gift I hope to share with my son.

And I don’t even have to actually give him the book. My mom knew what she was doing.

Read and return.

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Waiter, There’s A Person Of Color In My Media! Guest Post By Tristan J. Tarwater

Behold, the Tarwater!

Tristan J. Tarwater has one of the coolest names ever. But even that doesn’t encompass the coolness of the Tarwater. She is one of the champions of indie efforts in just about every aspect of creative endeavors you can think of, including but not limited to writing, comics, gaming, perfume, jewelry–there are few who are as dedicated to the indie cause in so many ways. She’s also mega-talented and I really enjoy seeing what comes out of that unique mind of hers. Plus she can kill you with her sense of humor. Tristan is one of my Favorite People, and you’ll see why when you read her post.

I was going provide a write up, explaining this skit which is a response to certain people’s reactions to African-Americans being cast in The Hunger Games, but I think the skit speaks for itself.

All of you who consume media, I hope your palates are expanded this year. All of you who create media, I hope you realize the scope of experience out there, the commonality of our emotions and that you bring truth and not typecasting forth from your minds.

Bon Apetit!

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Scene: Like the restaurant from Sesame Street. You know what I mean. Tablecloths on the tables, waiters wearing uniforms and clean aprons. A Diner, a white male somewhere between 25-40 years of age sits at a table by himself, drinking from his water glass. A waiter emerges from the kitchen with a plate of food and sets it in front of the Diner.

Waiter: Here you go, sir. Bon apetit.

Diner: Right, thank you.

*The Waiter leaves to take another person’s order while the Diner places his napkin on his lap. He takes a bite of his food and makes a face of displeasure. He pokes around in his food and wrinkles his nose. As the Waiter turns from their other customer, the Diner waves his hand to get their attention.*

Diner: Excuse me!

Waiter: Yes, sir? Is everything alright?

Diner: Actually, no. I just tried this after my friends recommended it to me and well…it’s…it’s not what I was expecting!

Waiter: In what way?

Diner: Well, this right here, the…black male? I wasn’t expecting the main focus of this to be…a black person.

Waiter: Yes?

Diner: Yes, I mean, I do consume media with black people but usually the taste is more…urban?

Waiter: I see. Did you read the menu?

Diner: Of course I did! It sounded interesting and like I said, my friends love this but…I mean, the Asian person isn’t even a doctor! And I thought these Latino bits would be spicier.

Waiters: I see.

Diner: Overall, I am…really disappointed in this dish.

Waiter: Is it bad?

Diner: No. It’s just…not what I’m used to. I eat out quite a bit and this is just…very different. Not like Mom used to make, you know?

Waiter: Here at Cafe Media the chefs are always trying new things to open the palates of their diners. It’s our hope that by combining our ingredients in different ways, we might expose our clients to new possibilities and to the realities that many people actually do experience and face.

Diner: Well really, I just came here for my lunch hour and…I was not expecting this.

Waiter: I see. Would you like me to take it back?

Diner: No…maybe if you could bring me some ranch dressing, I can just throw that on top.

Waiter: Of course, sir. *the waiter nods and leaves*

Behold, the Tarwater!
Behold, the Tarwater!

Tristan J. Tarwater is the author of The Valley of Ten Crescents series and Botanica Blues, as well as a contributor to the RPG site, Troll in the Corner. When she’s not building worlds inhabited by all kinds of nutters she finds herself momming, housewifeing, putzing around on Twitter and playing with perfume. You can find out more about her at Back That Elf Up or on her Facebook.

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Expert On Social Media Speaks! Welcome Timothy Smith

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This is going to be a long read, but trust me when I say it is SO WORTH IT. Timothy Smith is one of the brightest, most intelligent people I know. He’s been around the social media block since the early days of the Internet, and he knows whereof he speaks. Want to sell more books? Need to get a handle on this social media monster? Tim is The Man.

I also want to thank the brilliant Mr. Smith for taking the time to write this up for my humble blog. He and his Most Amazing Partner, Shannon Smith, are neck deep in their own hair-raising adventure, and I deeply appreciate the time and care he took in writing this valuable piece. Read, my poppets, and take notes. This is information which can really help you.

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Hello everyone.

For some reason (I am thinking probably either a pharmaceutically or alcohol induced psychosis) the lovely and talented Annetta Ribken has permitted me to take over her blog as a guest writer. She said I could post about any ol’ subject I desired (even though she rejected out of hand my suggestion of Deep Space 9 porno fan fiction) so I thought I would talk to you all about Internet marketing for writers instead. I am assuming most of you are writers, editors, or publishers in one form or another. My hope is that I can possibly suggest some things you may not know when it comes to social media and using various sites, apps, software, and tools to promote your words to a larger audience—more effectively and affordably.

How I Know All This Stuff

First, a little background… I have been making my living off the Internet (more or less) since its widespread popularization in 1992-ish. In 2000 I started my own Internet development, hosting, and marketing consultant group here in North Carolina. Before I started AASB Productions, I spent too many years working for various businesses and dot.com startups who were riding the wave of selling any small to medium-sized business owner with a credit card the latest and greatest “trend” online—databasing, Flash design, SEO placement, Adword strategies, etc. Most people, back then, would throw pounds of money to anyone who had the knowledge and skills necessary for them to cash in on a new form of media. It was, I suppose, a lot like what it must have been in the early days of radio, movies, or television.

So yes… I am old school. Yes, I have seen trends on the Internet come and go. There have been a lot of passing fads with lots of promise, yet no real longevity. But before I get into how best to take advantage of today’s Internet I should probably give you a sort of short, historical perspective of the medium. Most people tend to think of the Internet as essentially being the same today as it was 20-years ago, I can tell you that there have already been three distinct “ages” of the Internet and how people use it… and we’re quickly approaching the fourth.

The Ages Of The Internet

First, in the days of the early Net, it was all about information presentation. You had a website with a set number of static pages, some drop-shadowed pictures, a couple of animated gifs, and those pages promoted or presented information from provider to consumer. Creating a website at this time was a very expensive proposition for many small businesses and individuals, but the benefit was being able to sell to just about anyone, at anytime, anywhere in the world. There was a lot of potential, lots of expense, and for a select few of early adopters… huge rewards for those offering their products or information to a global audience. It was a digital gold rush of sorts.

The second era was the age of information collection. It started a few years later when obtaining data about your web visitors became as equally important as presenting information about yourself. Somewhere, sometime, someone—selling a massive amount of product online—said, “Hey, we should look to see if there’s a pattern with those purchasing our product and visiting our site.” This led to a period when every website had a form to fill out or some sort of a membership process successfully completed before access to the desired information was made available. Essentially, website owner evolved from wanting you to know who they were, to them wanting to know who you were. This led to things like databasing, data mining, spam, and search engines that used algorithms (Google) to produce highly individualized results as opposed to directory driven results (Yahoo). Amazon could now make suggestions as to what you should (statistically) be interested in based upon your prior purchases. “Cookies” now tracked which pages of a site you visited and how often. Amazing amounts of information were being collected, parsed, and sold without you even knowing.

The third age is what we’re in now; the age of information subscription & promotion. You have a product, skill, or possess a personality which other individuals want to know or learn more about. The act of “friending” or “liking” or “following” is now a euphemistic endorsement which can be a bajillion times more valuable that an actual purchase of whatever product you’re selling. We have all entered a sort of digital high school where your social status enjoys a meteoric boost by the mere wink of the prom king or queen. The apparent value of who you are and what you’re selling depends greatly on how many people link to, share, follow, and recommend what you do and say on social media sites. Politics, religion, activism, consumerism, artistry, government, and generational identification are all now, at least in part, only as successful as the potential outreach a single individual can attain with a serendipitous post of a Youtube video, Tweet hashtag, Tumblr repost, or promoted Facebook status update.

The fourth age of the Internet, which we’re just now starting to skirt the event horizon, is the age of information augmentation and man-oh-man, it’s gonna be a doozy.

But Let’s Not Jump Ahead

Let’s stay focused on where we are now; the third age of information subscription & promotion. Ironically, it has only been around a relatively short time, but it’s completely altered how we communicate, interact, derive information, and sell our products on the Web. Social media sites have transformed the art of self-promotion every bit as much as Yahoo transformed search, Amazon redefined media distribution, and WordPress revolutionized website development.

There are many reasons why social media caught on as well as it did, but perhaps the most significant boon to social media came from the proliferation of mobile devices and tablet computers. What once would have been information only found on a website via a search engine suddenly became an “app” that could be taken with you wherever you go on your phone, tablet, or even your car. Hell, toaster ovens now have an operating system capable of allowing you to play Angry Birds while your bagel browns and post a status update about it in real time!

There’s still a one caveat which cannot be ignored:

You must create quality content.

This will probably sound very familiar to you writers out there. I cannot begin to tell you how many established writers and publishers I have heard who pound the simple rule of “write more, write better, write often”. It seems simple enough, but for many, it is hard to put into practice. As a writer, you cannot measure your success or failure on the number of units your book sells. The same is true in Internet marketing. You cannot measure the success of your social media efforts solely on the number of “likes” you get on a single status update or visitors to your website in a single day, or retweets on your cleverly composed hashtag. You have to “post more, post better, post often”.

So with this somewhat long introduction, what follows are some things to consider and implement when delving into social media and marketing yourself online.

1. Be honest, be interesting, be yourself.

15 years ago no one knew jack squat about George Takei other than the Mr. Sulu thing (and his embarrassing stint as a prostitution kingpin who put a pimp-smackin’ down on Melanie Griffith in that one Miami Vice episode). But today, nearly every person on Facebook has either seen or heard about one of his posts. It’s not his celebrity from Star Trek that made him famous on Facebook, but his social activism, his philanthropic efforts, and his humorous good nature about all things science fiction. He posts his own statuses, he isn’t afraid to take a stand, he apologizes sincerely and quickly if he feels he’s made a mistake. But most importantly, his feed isn’t ego driven. In other words, it’s not all about him so much as what he believes to be important and making the world a better place. Contrast this to Shatner’s or Nimoy’s Facebook presence (which are infrequent, self-promoting, and un-entertaining) and you’ll see that Sulu had the last laugh.

2. Don’t be a “one-trick” poster or a “one-issue” poster.

Remember, Facebook allows you to create different kinds of posts, i.e. pictures, text, pictures with text, links, links with text, events, polls, etc, take advantage of them all. Don’t “just” make text posts and don’t “only” post pictures. Diversify your feeds, change your timeline photo frequently, conduct polls… these different methods each represent a specific tool of engaging your audience. Additionally, there is no one mistake you can make, regardless of social media site you’re using, than this one. If all you post about is how great pineapple on your pizza is, the only audience you’re going to end up with is people whom either one, agree with you, or two, don’t agree with you. Eventually, many of the people who agree with you will feel like a choir being preached to. When your face or name appears in their feed, they’ll start to move past your posts without really paying attention to what information you’re providing (probably because they’ve already seen it elsewhere) and eventually lose interest to some degree. This will leave you, mostly, with the people who think you and your children are atheistic communists who hate America and worship the devil because of your outspoken support of tropical fruit on an Italian staple food.

3. Pace yourself.

Don’t forget the world is a big place—many, many time zones and days of the week in which your post may or may not be seen. It is best to post your updates according to whom and when you’re trying to reach. Don’t post fourteen pictures in a row of Grumpy Cat at 8:00 AM EST when no one on the West Coast is even awake and wonder why no one is commenting on them. A great tool you can invest in is a service like Hootsuite which allows you to schedule and pre-compose your posts and tweets to your various social media sites at a pre-arranged time. (*Editor’s note: I also like Buffer.)

4. Focus.

Another mistake often made is people attempting to post too much on too many different social media sites. It is not always a good idea to set up a Facebook “Fan” Page, a Facebook user page, a Twitter feed, a Tumblr site, a GoodReads profile, a WordPress site, a StumbleUpon profile, a Reddit account, YouTube channel, LinkedIn profile… blah, blah, blah. Focus on building an audience on one or two of these—at first. Then, as you build success, branch into the others as it is appropriate to what you’re promoting and the demographic to whom you are selling. Each one of these sites is utilized and frequented by a particular type of audience in a specific kind of way. The audience you can build on LinkedIn is going to be very different than the audience you build on Tumblr.

5. Cross-posting.

If you have a new book to sell or site to promote and you want to announce it to the world, announce it! But “roll out” your announcement with different verbiage, at different times, on different days, and in creative ways, to your various social media profiles. Nothing speeds up the process of people passing by your face in their feed than seeing the exact same post on seven different social media sites all within an hour of each other… and then again the next hour… and then again the next hour… and again the next hour.

6. Promote the work of others.

Interact with others in your industry; post links to their work, give them attention, compliment their efforts. Altruism in promoting the work of others accomplishes two things; it makes people like you, and it makes others want to be liked by you.

7. Know when to engage and when to walk away.

This is a no-brainer. There is no need to respond to every compliment, engage in every argument, moderate every discussion, or lay down laws of behavior. Let the Internet do what it does best on your feeds; create discussion. Don’t take sides in flame wars, etc. It is a wise and successful practice to know when to say when and when to say nothing.

8. Pithy posting paints prolific pictures

I think the worst thing Facebook ever did was remove the 420-character limit on status updates. If you’re like me, you know pith and creativity make for awesome bedfellows and can provide awesome challenges to any writer. Don’t say in 500 words what can be said in 20.

9. Steal what works.

This medium of social media is meme driven. If you have someone you follow religiously online, there’s a reason why. Discover what that reason is, define how they’re doing it, modify it to fit what you do, and make it your own. Be original, but don’t be afraid to emulate what works. Don’t “copy” what others are doing, rather, study it, dissect it, then innovate it into something that is distinctly yours.

10. Study your metrics.

Nearly every social media site you use offers some means of plotting and parsing the effectiveness and outreach of its users. Take the time to learn how to access them, understand what they’re telling you, and make adjustments to how, when, and what you’re posting. A great service which consolidates this information for you is Klout. Give it access to your various social media profiles and it will track on a scale how effective your online presence is and the outreach you’ve obtained (it’s free and fairly easy to understand its interface). I can always tell when I am slacking on my posting when my number starts to slip.

So, I hope you all found something in here you can find useful. And a thanks to Annetta for allowing me to write a 2500-word article on how to be pithy and succinctly creative with social media! As I am sure many of you already know much of what I have written about (and I am sure there are plenty out there that might disagree or suggest better alternatives). Regardless, thanks for reading… now go share this article on your feed!

Timothy Smith is a professional Internet marketing consultant and owner of AASB Productions. With a 20-year background in computer sciences, Timothy has been helping individuals, non-profits and small-businesses understand how to use computers and the Internet to succeed and better communicate with the world. His recent focus is teaching and instructing others with the best practices of integrating social networking, blogging, and Web 2.0 with existing Web technologies.

He currently resides near Pinehurst, North Carolina with his wife and two dogs, Pepper & Kona.

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Guest Post Tuesday – Patti Larsen

I am really excited to present to you a video by the awesome Patti Larsen for my first Guest Post Tuesday. We’ve worked together on many projects, and I can tell you she is one amazing person. Prolific, generous, and always upbeat, I’m fairly certain there is no demon contract involved in her achievements. Pretty sure. Just a lot of old-fashioned hard work.

Patti is a phenom. There’s really no other way to describe her. She has ridden the wave of indie publishing to great success. Not only is she mad talented, she’s sharp as a tack and really knows her business. Make no mistake–writing is a business as much as it is art. In this video, Patti talks about quality and quantity.

About the Author: Patti Larsen is an award-winning middle grade and young adult author with a passion for the paranormal. Her YA thriller series, The Hunted, is available now. Book one of that series, RUN, is a recent recipient of the 2012 PEI Book Awards for Fiction. Twelve books of her very popular Hayle Coven Novels, beginning with FAMILY MAGIC, are also on hand. Her YA steampunk series, Blood and Gold, can be found on Amazon and all other fine e-retailers, along with her YA paranormal novel, BEST FRIENDS FOREVER, The Diamond City Trilogy and the Clone Chronicles. Her middle grade novel, THE GHOST BOY OF MACKENZIE HOUSE (Acorn Press), is also available. She is a full time writer and a part time teacher of her Get Your Book Done program. Patti lives on the East Coast of Canada with her very patient husband and four massive cats.

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Many thanks to Patti for taking the time to make a guest appearance! *MWAH*

You can find her:

On her website: Patti Larsen
On Facebook:Patti Larsen, Author
On Twitter: Patti Larsen
On Amazon.com and Goodreads

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Second Tuesday – Writer’s Block and the Tooth Fairy

This blog post is courtesy of a blogfest initiated by the lovely and talented Patti Larsen known as “Second Tuesday”. This month’s topic is “Writer’s Block”, and I encourage you to visit the blogs located at the end of this post to see what other writers think about this subject. Thanks also to Gary Varner for saving us this time around with some nifty coding skillz.

I’ve covered “writer’s block” more than once on this site, but it really seems to be a recurring topic of conversation among my writer friends, and I can sympathize even though I believe in writer’s block about as much as I believe in the Tooth Fairy.

This is my concept of the Tooth Fairy. I'm not scared.

Even though I don’t believe in the Tooth Fairy…uh, I mean WRITER’S BLOCK, I do believe in writer’s constipation. There are a lot of good suggestions in that post and in the comments to help try to shake you out of the rut. But actually, all the advice you will read about “writer’s block” boils down to one important concept:

SIT YOUR BUTT DOWN AND WRITE.

There could be a lot of things stopping you. The stress and wear and tear of “regular” life is enormous for most of us. Many of us work a “real” job in addition to slinging words around, some of us are depending on a significant other or spouse to support us while we get our writing legs underneath us. A lot of us have families in addition to our other job, some of us only have ourselves on which to depend. Add all that up and what you have is a lot of pressure to perform, to produce. Instead of opening the floodgate, this can actually paralyze a writer into looking at a blank page and breaking out in hives and other embarrassing skin eruptions.

Bee hives. Not the same as the skin problem.

Like the bee hives in the photo, you have to get busy. Sure, a blank page is intimidating. All those wonderful ideas you had last night while you were falling asleep have faded in the dawn, and your mind feels as blank as the page. Despair eats at your guts, and you wonder if you have it in you to write so much as a grocery list, not to mention a full-length novel, a scintillating short story or the article due tomorrow.

I used to think I had writer’s block every time I sat down to the computer and I’d start to panic. Before I even wrote a word. I’d break out in a sweat and start thinking, “Oh my GAWD, what am I going to write? I can’t think of a thing. I’m a failure. I suck. I suck so bad they’re gonna call me the Queen of Suckage. I’m tapped out. I got nothin’. I’ve told all the stories I have to tell. The well has done dried up, there’s nothing left. I’m done.” Then I’d start contemplating ways to fall on my sword so no one would catch on that I wasn’t writing anything anymore.

This is the scary part about writing. It’s rather like jumping off a high building.

This is the view when you hit the sidewalk. You don't want to do this.

Will you hit the sidewalk in a splat of guts and blood? Will you float down gently and land like a petal on the wind? Well, that’s the challenge, isn’t it?

You know what broke me out of that kind of mind-set? Writing non-fiction for a living. Clients don’t care about your bullshit angst, they care about whether or not you’re hitting the deadline. Of course quality counts, but you’d better hit that deadline and produce what’s been paid for. Otherwise, you have compromised your reputation and the very bread on the table. Believe me, that’s a powerful motivation. I try to carry that over into fiction, with some success. Hey, don’t get me wrong, I struggle too! Every damned day! But here’s one thing I do every day that a lot of people don’t…

I SIT MY BUTT DOWN AND WRITE.

Just start. One word at a time. Will it be crap? Doesn’t matter. Will it be grand? Doesn’t matter. Will it make sense, flow like a river, soar like an eagle or bomb like a fart in church? Doesn’t matter. What matters is getting the words on the paper. If you can’t face a short story, write a blog post. If you feel you can’t write a blog post, write a letter to someone, living or dead. If you can’t do that, grab a yellow legal pad and just write whatever comes in your head, even if it’s I CAN DO THIS I CAN DO THIS over and over. Not every “cure” for writer’s “block” (picture me doing the little quotey thing with my fingers as you read that as a visual aid – you’re welcome) is going to work for you, but chances are there’s something that will help you over the hump.

The fear can be paralyzing. The only way through it is through it. Don’t let the fears of inadequacy, the pressures of life or the self-doubts all writers wrestle with stop you.

SIT YOUR BUTT DOWN AND WRITE.

Butt, meet Chair. Chair, this is Butt. You shall be good friends.

It’s as simple and as difficult as that. Power through it. Make it happen. Put all the stress, doubts and bullshit excuses in a trunk, lock it and stick the key in a flowerpot.

That ain’t the Tooth Fairy and that ain’t writer’s block.


Writing Challenge:  WRITER’S BLOCK
  1. Second Tuesday 2: Words Shy of Daylight – Alberta Ross
  2. 12 & a ½ Ways to Deal with Writer’s’Block – Ruchira Mandal
  3. Second Tuesday – Writer’s Block – Patti Larsen
  4. Iain the Cat opines on Writer’s Block – Jeannie
  5. Using Writer’s Block as an Excuse to not Write – Rebeca Schilller
  6. Writer’s Block – Gary Varner
  7. Second Tuesday – Writer’s Block and the Tooth Fairy – Annetta Ribken
  8. Writer’s Block or Writer’s Withdrawal – Eden Baylee
  9. Breaking Past Writer’s Block – Elise VanCise
This post is part of a monthly writing challenge known as “Second Tuesday,” written by members of the Fellow Writers’ Facebook group. Click on any link above to read another “Second Tuesday” post. Enjoy!

Find “Not Nice and Other Understatements” at Amazon and now at Smashwords in any format you desire! Autographed copies are still available through the link on this page. Spread the word! And thanks for all of your support!

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Forging New Threads – And New Connections

Photo courtesy of Petr Kratochvil

Thanks to the efforts of Patti Larsen, today’s post is part of a writer’s bloghop. Similar to a sock hop, but without the physical exertion and sweat. It has been titled “Second Tuesday”, and will appear here…well, every second Tuesday of the month. The objective is to present a topic for conversation, then link together a group of blogs that will provide you, the reader, the opportunity to read the different interpretations of the topic. Pretty cool, right? I think so, too. We all have a unique perspective, and I look forward to getting to know other bloggers and forging new connections. Which, coincidentally….

This month’s topic is “New Connections”. For both new and established writers, this is an important topic, especially if you’re a self-published or indie author. We don’t have the advantage of traditionally published products — we don’t have the distribution channels, the exposure, or the support of a big house behind us. Moreover, we don’t have gatekeepers to vet the material that’s being produced. This can be a problem, as we slog away in obscurity, writing our little fingers to the bone and presenting our best, then waving our arms in the air, jumping up and down with pom poms, to little or no avail. We’re a hardy bunch; we celebrate every book or piece sold, one by one, but it can be a long, frustrating process.

You don’t have to tell us to not give up. For most of us, that’s not even a consideration. We love what we do and wouldn’t quit if you tied us to a chair and let loose the zombies. (Okay, maybe then.) But, what are our options if we want to make our endeavors successful? New connections, of course! How do you do that?

Join groups that interest you, don’t just join a group to join. That’s not to say you can’t join a group then drop out if it doesn’t work for you, and time can be a factor, but at least try something different from time to time. Participation is key — without it, you’re just a name on a board and that’s not really going to do you any good. While I am really starting to despise the term “writer’s platform”, there is no mystery to the process. Just like in “real life”, you have to put yourself out there, interact with people from a SINCERE place, and keep on building, once block at a time.

Here are some suggestions for writers:

#Amwriting: this is a group of writers who have met on Twitter, and this site is the brainchild of novelist Johanna Harness. Here is a directory of members and their works, a discussion forum, and other nifty ways to get your name out and about and a way to form new connections.

ABC Indie Reading Challenge: I can’t remember where I first saw this link, but I was totally hooked when I did. I firmly believe in putting my money where my mouth is, and not only is this a good way to expose yourself to new indie fiction, it’s also a fabulous way to pay it forward and to present honest reviews on those read to the public.

Sometimes, you’re looking for something closer to your heart. Your very own peeps, people who write in the same genre and are aware of the challenges and torture chambers that await the unwary. Check out the brand-new collective at Indie Horror for those who write horror. Although in the early stages, it looks like a good way to hook up with others who write about the dark, bitey things that lurk in the shadows of your closet. (Ooo! *shiver* I just freaked myself out!)

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Of course, joining a group and hanging out from time to time can reap a number of benefits you’re not expecting. You might find a Trek buddy, a new critique partner, or someone who just so happens to have a talent you need that may be willing to barter for a talent you have that they need. Again, because we don’t have a big house behind us, it’s a little more difficult to retain the same level of services they do such as editing and graphic design. However, you’re not the only independent out there — there are many others in many other disciplines looking for the same big break you are who are just as talented, if not more so, that the pool NYC has to work with.

My main message here is — help a brother or a sister out, if you can. Even if it’s something as small as a vote for an award, a helping hand with copy, exchanging services, re-posting a Tweet or a link on FB, joining a group and making friendly (and legal!) advances — be a doer, not a wallflower in the corner. Not only will you advance your own interests, you’ll be helping others out, and that type of good karma can only come back in the best of ways.

Be open. Be friendly. Be honest. Be kind. Above all, be kind. There’s too much of the other bullshit floating around out there.

You can find “Not Nice and Other Understatements” here for purchase, or you can find it on Amazon in print or for the Kindle. It is also available on Smashwords in a plethora of formats for your reading pleasure. For an autographed copy, please visit this post. Thanks for your support!

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