Thursday, July 25, 2013

Some Google Plussin' and a Super Blogger Award!

Yes....this is another post about Google Plus. If I like it so much, why don't I marry it? Well, that wouldn't make the wife happy, so...

This is going to be a touchy subject for me because I don't like to offend people.....honestly, I don't (so, don't be offended if you think this is about you).  I also don't like, though, to see potential wasted so I'm just going to come out and say it.

To my blogging friends using Google Plus......'re doing it wrong.

There...I said it.

O.k, maybe I shouldn't say "wrong". Maybe I should say, you're not doing it to it's fullest potential.

Again.....please don't be offended...., but you're throwing some great opportunities out the social media window.

I follow quite a few of my blogger pals on Google Plus and the only time I ever see your names pop up in my stream is when you're linking to your blog, someone else's blog, or your book. Now you can say, "Hey Mark, what makes you the expert? You can't do social media "wrong"?"

Well, I guess, technically, you can't do it wrong (and I'm no expert)....everyone has their own agendas when it comes to social media. But, if you're looking to generate interest in your book, blog, whatever, some of you aren't going about it in the right manner, from what I can see.

Sort of like the Twitter advice to post more than "Buy my book!", the same holds true for Google Plus. I realize that many people have limited time they can spend online/on social media, but try to make the most of what time you do have. I mean more than "Buy my book" or "Check out my blog", continuously.

You are all such interesting kidding, you are (I wouldn't follow you, otherwise), yet I scroll down your posts and you have no comments, no "plus ones", no reshares, nothing.


Because you're not putting yourself out there. You have to engage your audience. Post things about yourself. Like to cook? Throw out a recipe every once in a while? Like Roller Derby? Put up a quick post about your local team. Enjoy camping? Maybe share a quick YouTube video about starting a fire from scratch. Like writing? (Duh!) Post a graphic showing writer's success stories. Stuff like that.

These things don't have to be mind blowing, they can be pretty mundane, actually. One girl in my circles posted this, just this morning:

She got 25 +1s and 33 comments on this.....about wearing pants. Why would people comment and/or acknowledge (+1) something so silly? Well, because it was silly, because Amy engages (replies back) to her commenters as well as posting all sorts of other interesting things.

Now, if you're just on Google Plus as a lark and that other social media site that starts with an "F" and ends with a "K" (get your minds out of the gutter, you know which one I mean!), is your preferred social media site then totally just disregard everything you've read up till now (if you haven't already).

My point is, there is a HUGE audience out there, as well as some great writing communities (here , here and here), on G Plus. Engaging that audience isn't's actually quite fun....but it's going to take a little effort.

Back in March, I posted a little tutorial on using G+, which was a bit convoluted and not that well organized....but it laid out the basics. Since then, I've found an excellent introductory video on Youtube that I wanted to share. It's a bit lengthy (16 minutes), but there's some good info here.

Anywho, (if you're still with me) I hope this post didn't offend and I'm really hoping it might have helped clarify just how simple engaging and getting your message out there is, especially if you're not thrilled with the FB alternative. Regardless of what you might read, Google Plus is not a 'ghost town' and is growing by leaps and bounds on a monthly basis.

I'm still mad at them for getting rid of Reader, though....grrr...

Now, to switch things up from social media to Super Bloggers!  I gave out the first Super Blogger Award a few weeks back to the Ninja Captain, himself, Alex J. Cavanaugh and, since then, I've happily seen it making it's way around the blogosphere. I thank you all for participating and helping to acknowledge those bloggers who you really enjoy.

The "rules" of this award are pretty simple:

Take the award for yourself, then pass it along to someone who inspires you or you just think is 'super' in one way or another. Tell us why you think that person is super and deserving. Now, all the recipient has to do is reveal a (as in one) small secret about themselves (super people always tend to have a secret or two, right?) and pass the reward on to someone they think is deserving.

One blogging buddy, who I think is 'super', sounds like she can fly already......Jaybird, from The Bird's Nest!

Mrs. Bird, or "J" as some call her, has one of those blogs that got me into blogging in the first place. While she talks about writing, she also talks about life. What's going on with her and her family. How she's feeling. What she has planned for the weekend. All that stuff that might be mundane, to her, but I find pretty interesting in a 'slice of life' way.

I always look forward to her posts and her comments and find her "Joisey" attitude funny and refreshing. If you haven't met her, yet, you should hop over and give her a look.

So, Mrs. Bird, please accept the Super Blogger Award and thanks for being one of my 'blogging heroes' :)

Friday, July 19, 2013

A Bit of Crowdsourcing

That is the term the kids are using these days, right?


Back in my day we called it "brainstorming" or "asking around".

Either way, that's what I'd like to do in regards to my new project, Last Chance. I've been working on some character profiles and have hit an interesting snag. And, since I know I have the creme' de la creme' of the writing blogosphere to draw from, I figured this would be a great place to ask the burning question....

What do I call these people?

I'm not talking about real names....I think I have a pretty good handle on that. No, what I'm talking about is naming conventions where people in the 1850s would use to describe, basically, a super human.

I mean, if they saw a guy lift a horse or a stagecoach...and their identity was would they describe him?



Would they fall to biblical or mythological conventions to describe the guy who flies like a bird and is strong as an ox?

Yep, that big fella what flies around threw that there boulder clean inta the sky. You know who I'm talkin' about.....that Herk You Lees, fella....

Anyway, I'm just looking for a little feedback on some potential names that might work well within the context of 1850s Wyoming.

Main Character: Daniel Chance-- Possess extraordinary powers he doesn't quite understand. An ex 'gun for hire', killing was second nature to Daniel. He sees his gifts as being from the great beyond and as a sign to change his ways. Basically, his powers manifest as he needs them. He's very versatile and still learning what his limits, if any, are.

Naming ideas-- Gabriel, Archangel, Apollo, The Stranger, Avenging Angel, Turbine, Johnny Nitro, Providence, Paragon.

William Ironhorse-- A Lakota Indian and shapeshifter who can communicate with animals and is sensitive to weather patterns.

Naming ideas-- Avatar, Totem, Renegade.

Alistair Russell-- A British expatriate on the run from the law for a crime he may (or may not) have committed. Deciding to use his knowledge of brand new "steam technology" to fight crime, he's the town sheriff by day and masked vigilante by night.

Naming ideas-- The Yankee, The Dandy, Jim Dandy

Rebecca Carter-- Owner of Carter's General Store by day, super speed induced, masked gunslinger, by night.

Naming ideas-- Lady Lightning, Miss Rysk (actually, I kind of like this one)

Elias Reynolds-- The Mayor of Last Chance who uses his mystic abilities to hide a big secret as well as protecting the citizenry.

Naming ideas-- The Stranger. Obviously, I need more than a bit of help with this one.

So, what do you think.....any thoughts or ideas?

Are there any 'must see' resources I should check?

Let me know and thanks in advance.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Organizational Morass

I don't know how long you have to be writing to develop your own 'style' but, if I had to describe how I style, as it were, I would describe myself as a 'seat of the pants' (or pantser, in the NaNoWriMo vernacular) type of writer.

Now, I don't see anything really "wrong" with that sort of style, but that's not really how I am, as a person. I'm a pretty organized....some (my wife) would say too organized....type of guy. I like 'to do' lists, I like things to be in certain places, I like doing things "just in case", and I like preparing for contingencies.

One of the first things I did when I moved down to Florida was to make preparations in case of a hurricane...something my wife and her family have never done even after going through a few of them in the past.

Anyway, I digress.

The point of this little post is to ponder why, as a self professed "organized" person, I don't practice that in my writing? 

Why am I content to make just a few notes and then sit down, trying to come up with things off the cuff?

Why am I settling for 'organized (semi) chaos' when I wouldn't settle for that in most other aspects of my life?

I guess the only answer I can come up with is that I'm not very sure just how to get organized, to begin with.

Notes, I can do. 

Lists are really no problem.

Outlining, though, that's the tricky one. I keep reading about outlining being a "must"...especially for a well crafted story...and I think that's part of my downfall. I know how to do outlines (I think), but I'm not sure as to the extent and complexity they need to be in order to help get all my ideas across.

It's something I'm still working on as I go through character bios, world building, and the odds and ends of my new project.

With that said, I'll throw it out to all you writer folks out there.....

How do you organize your ideas? Post it notes? Notebooks? Excel spreadsheets?

Do you outline? If so, how in depth do you go?

Any good websites on the subject to recommend? 

In the meantime, I'll just be here slogging around in an organizational morass.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

IWSG: July, 2013 Enough Is Enough

It's the first Wednesday of the month (wow, again?) and that means another installment of the Insecure Writer's Support Group.

Hosted by the Ninja Captain, himself, Alex J. Cavanaugh, it's a forum for aspiring writer types to air out what makes us, as said writers, insecure.

This month, Alex's co-hosts are Nancy S. Thompson , Milton (Mark) Koopmans, and Heather Gardner so stop by and show them some love.

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