Jane Austen’s Fight Club

I want to share this comedic YouTube video, Jane Austen’s Fight Club and some thoughts as to how it relates to writing. This new viral video combines romantic fiction and underground fighting in the trailer for a faux movie about Austen’s favorite heroines – Lizzy Bennett, Emma Woodhouse and the Dashwood sisters – who are no longer in “good society.”

It serves to remind me, when you are writing a story–whether it is a romance, a thriller, a memoir, or a mystery–you need conflict. Otherwise, it’s just a “nice little story,” kind of boring, not much to it. Life is filled with conflict. Readers expect it.

So, take a tip from “Fight Club,” send your inner “nice guy” out for ice cream and figure out just how mean you can be to your character. Conflict is the key to keeping a story moving, to shoring it up. You’ve introduced your character and the problem she has to solve. You know what the goal is at the end.

Have fun with it.

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Published in: on August 31, 2010 at 9:11 pm  Comments (1)  
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The Real Secret to Twitter

I’m featuring a guest post by Penny Sansevieri, one of the top marketing “gurus” of today.

by Penny C. Sansevieri

If you’ve ever been impressed by the number of followers someone has on Twitter, I have a newsflash for you: it doesn’t matter. The thing is, you can buy followers (no, I’m not kidding) sort of like buying mailing lists. How effective is buying followers? Well, let me ask you: How effective was the last mailing list you bought? Whatever your answer is I can guarantee you that buying Twitter followers will be far less effective. Why? Because social media does not favor automation, it favors engagement, interaction, and yes, being social.

You might be interested in knowing someone’s Twitter-reach or you might be trying to determine if your campaign is effective. Here are some key things to look at when measuring anyone’s Twitter-success:

1)      How active is the person on Twitter?

2)      How relevant to their market are their updates? For example did a mystery author just tell you she’s washing her cat?

3)      How much do they broadcast vs. communicate?

4)      How often are they retweeted?

5)      How many Twitter lists are they on?

One of the best ways to determine if your Twitter campaign is effective – or someone else’s – is by gauging how often they are retweeted. Retweeting is an important factor in Twitter, possibly the most significant means to determine an effective Twitter person from an ineffective one. In fact, Twitter popularity lists aren’t based on the amount of followers but rather on the amount of activity in a campaign. When I recently pulled up a list of the top 10 Twitter-ers in Southern California, I  found that many in the top 10 didn’t even break 10,000 followers.

How can you determine how active an account is? There are a few services that you might want to look into. The first is Retweet Rank (retweetrank.com). This service shows you (by user) how much someone has been retweeted as well as their most popular retweeted posts.

Twitter Analyzer (twitteranalyzer.com) is another great tool for determining how far tweets have traveled. You can isolate a user or a particular Twitter-stream. Very useful site!

How can you increase your tweet-ability? Here are a few tips to help you grow your Twitter campaign:

1)      Know what your followers want: the first piece sounds simple but could take you the most amount of time. Candidly, it took me three months to finally get a handle on what my followers wanted and what seemed to rank high on the retweeting scale. If you don’t know what your followers want, try following popular people in your market and see what they are posting about. Use this as a guideline to help you dig deeper into what your market wants.

2)      Share useful advice: now that you’ve determined what your followers want to see on Twitter, make sure the information you are sharing is helpful. I know this sounds like an oxymoron. If you’ve determined what your followers want of course what you tweet on will be helpful, right? Wrong. Ask yourself what they need, not what you think they want. There is a big difference.

3)      Don’t overtweet: OK, full confession, I’ve been guilty of this from time to time but now I’ve found a good balance of between 4 and 5 posts a day. This may be a metric that works for you, but you’ll need to determine that on your own. How do you know? If people start unfollowing you the reason may because you are overtweeting.

4)      Balance broadcasting with communicating: this is a biggie for many of us. It’s important to use any social media tool like a telephone. You would never call someone and just blast them with information, right? You’ll give them something, wait for a response and then respond to their question and so a discussion ensues. Use social media as you would a telephone: communicate, don’t broadcast.

5)      Comment on current events that relate to your industry: becoming the go-to person for everything related to your industry is what most of us aspire to. Keeping apprised of what’s going on in your industry is important and then, sharing the highlights or most significant items with your followers will go a long way toward growing your popularity.

6)      Recommend helpful resources: much like current events, you want to offer helpful resources to your followers. This might not be appropriate to every market, but for the majority of us this works very well. Again, the more you can become a resource the more you will grow your popularity on Twitter or, for that matter, any social media site.

Many people hop onto Twitter thinking it’s a numbers game when it really isn’t. You can have a Twitter-tribe of millions and not gain the same kind of social media success that you would with only 1,000 followers. The wisdom of the crowd knows that it’s not always the size of the audience that matters but how engaged they are in you and your message. Find the balance that works for. You’ll be glad you did.

Penny C. Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., teaches self-publishing and social media marketing as an adjunct professor at NYU and is the author of five books, including Red Hot Internet Publicity. To learn about her books or her promotional services, including The Virtual Author Tour™, visit www.amarketingexpert.com. To subscribe to her free ezine, send a blank email to mailto:subscribe@amarketingexpert.com

Published in: on August 26, 2010 at 9:38 pm  Comments (2)  
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Cowgirls, Balladeers & Concerts (Or What I Did This Summer)

Juni Fisher sings at a cozy concert venue at the Cowgirl Co-op near Spokane WA

I did a book signing and reading and was honored to meet Juni Fisher and enjoy her wonderful voice and storytelling.

Book signing in Monroe WA with Dawn Nelson & Jessica Hedges

On National Cowboy Day, I shared a table at Del’s Feeds in Monroe with author Dawn Nelson and cowgirl poet Jessica Hedges, whom I had met at the Juni Fisher concert.

A book signing with Mary Trimble

Mary Trimble and I signed books at A Book For All Seasons in Leavenworth, WA.

Book Table at Anacortes Street Fair

Selling more books in front of Watermark Books during the Anacortes Street Fair. (It rained!)

And discovered a great new, up-and-coming country singer, Chance McKinney & Crosswire.

Published in: on August 12, 2010 at 3:16 am  Comments (4)  
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7-Year-Old Rodeo Star

I just ran across this story. I love it. Reminds me of a certain grandmother I used to know!

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If you’ve ever been on a horse, you know how powerful it can be. Little Haley Miller from Bristol has been riding with her mom and grandma since her neck was strong enough to support her head. Now the 7 year old is turning heads every time she races out into the arena.

Haley’s favorite song is “Cowgirls Don’t Cry” by Brooks and Dunn.  You don’t see any tears from this “Cowgirl”. Riding a 1,500 pound horse would scare a lot of people. But throw out the fact Haley weighs only 40 pounds. This little firecracker has been riding by herself since she was 3.

Read the rest of this story at a South Bend, IN news site

Published in: on August 6, 2010 at 6:04 am  Comments (2)  
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