Twitter…It’s a conversation

Part 2 ….

It’s all about the tweeting quality of your conversation…

Are you talking?

One of the most underused and abused of the social networking/media sites is Twitter. I will admit that Twitter completely overwhelmed me and baffled me when I first heard about it. Someone suggested I should sign up as the only way to understand Twitter is to dive right in. Well I signed up. I was lost. For the first couple of months my account remained inactive. So did the conversation. I was not talking to anyone on twitter so nobody knew I was there. I decided I needed to educate myself. I quizzed friends already on Twitter, I read up blog posts on Twitter and then I started a conversation. Someone tweeted something that interested me and I responded. Within seconds there was an echoing response from the tweeter and they had started following me. So I continued talking. Before I knew it I was involved in multiple conversations and had more than a few followers who I followed in turn.

Suddenly a lightbulb had been turned on and I could see the whole room. It was a room full of people talking and connecting over shared interests. I turned around and saw a whole lot of smaller groups. Over there, there was a crowd talking about publishing, just across from them another crowd spoke about music, just across from them another crowd spoke about politics. Turning around I also realised there were celebrities in the room but they didn’t have any “minders” or “publicists”, they were just people like you and I talking about things that interest them.

A good cocktail party is all about conversation…so is Twitter.

Twitter is a social tool that breaks down all barriers of fame, wealth, class, age, geography, language in one huge online room full of people having conversations. That is the trick of Twitter if there is a trick. You have to engage in conversation with another person. There is no way that being a wallflower is going to get you into Twitter. But in Twitter there is no need to be a wallflower because conversation is easy. All you need for a conversation is at least two people and a topic that connects them. That is the great secret of Twitter. You need to be part of the conversations in the room to be accepted, followed and friended.

Yes Twitter can be a great marketing tool in that you can tweet links to your blog – to draw in new readers – or you can tweet links to your upcoming products and a site where people can buy them. But if you are only tweeting links to blogs or tweeting product promotion and self-marketing, you have lost the point and the true charm of twitter.

Think of Twitter more as a cocktail party you have been invited to by an acquaintance. Why did they invite you? Did they invite you so that you can climb aboard a pedestal and promote who you are and what you do? Or did they invite you because you peeked their interest and they want to learn more about you, the individual, the person? When you think of Twitter in these terms you will see Twitter in a different light.

However there are so many different conversations going on in the rooms but you may want to leave the main party room and enter a smaller party room to zone in on one specific conversation/debate. This is when Twitter chats come in play or as they are known on Twitter as # (hash-tag chats). For instance if you are taking part in NaNoWriMo this month, if you sign up to a TweetChat account like tweet chat or TweetDeck and enter #NaNoWriMo, you will enter a room where everyone is chatting all things NaNoWriMo. To continue in this conversation, you tweet as normal but make sure that somewhere in each tweet there is the same #NaNoWriMo, this means that all your tweets will be seen by the people in the smaller #NaNoWriMo room.

As you explore more in Twitter chats you will realise that there will be regular chats in your industry throughout the week. Now for writers, twitter is a perfect hangout and brainstorming session with fellow wordsmiths. There are weekly chats on the craft of writing, on the marketing side, the creative side, the brainstorming side and the critiquing side. You just have to search them out. If you have not joined in on one of these chats, I urge you to do so. Not only will you meet many like-minded people but you will learn a lot too. On my writing blog, Wrestling the Muse, I have a page devoted to the different Twitter chats called #Twittertalk. On here you will find the most regular and popular twitter chats targeted towards writers. Try one of the chats out. You may just enjoy the conversation more than you thought and start understanding the unique charm that is Twitter.

I hope that this post breaks down Twitter in simple terms for you as one more great social media tool. Remember that people will take more notice of your blogs, websites, products and talent if they like talking to you anyway. If you can interest them on Twitter, they will follow you to your other places in social media. Try Twitter out if you have not had the courage to yet. If you have and have been overwhelmed, break it down. It is just a conversation after all. You have those all the time every day. Good Luck with your twittering.

Tell me how you find Twitter? Do you enjoy it? Has it baffled you? Will you give it a chance if you have not yet? I would love to hear about your TwitterTalk. Tell me something. Better yet: tweet me @last_lines   or  @AuthorKimKoning . I look forward to having many conversations with you in Twittertime. Don’t be shy. It is just people talking.

Join me here tomorrow for Part 3 on social media…Tomorrow we are going to talk blogging.

Wallflower or Social Butterfly? | Part 1

Are you a shy & retreating Wallflower?

Or

Are you a Social Butterfly and the Life of a Party?

In real life you may fall into one or the other category but what about in the virtual and digital world of social media? Are you a shy and retreating Wallflower or are you the life of the party and a Social Butterfly? You may wonder what it matters whether you are shy in social media or not but if you want to network and you want to make connections – you need to become a social butterfly if you aren’t already.

Social Media is called “Social” for a very good reason.

You must be social for it to accomplish its task.

Not only has social media changed the business world but it has changed and continues to change our personal lives. If you meet someone new at a party and you want to meet up later in the week, how do you get in contact with them? You ask if they are on Facebook. There are two reasons why people are more willing to give out their Facebook profiles rather than their home address or even mobile phone number. If you friend request them they can learn all about you from your Facebook profile before choosing to accept. Secondly it is safer to give out your Facebook profile than it is to give out more personal information, like your home address, to a virtual stranger.

In this modern day and age more networking and more connections are made and forming through the social media and social networking sites. There is no point in being an ostrich and sticking your head in the sand hoping that life will just go back to being simple.

Most industries rely on marketing savvy and promotion savvy. Everyone and every business has something to sell. Whether this be a service, their name or a talent. The way this is accomplished in 2011 is through social media and social networking. It simply has the largest exposure without a very high monetary cost. An effective and engaged social presence on the internet is more beneficial and powerful than advertising copy in a magazine or on tv.

So what is your presence in social media? Do you have a presence or are you scratching your head as you read “social media”? If you do have a presence, is it effective and engaging? Are you using social media to your best advantage? Do you know why you need social media and what you want from it?

If you are a creative; a musician, an artist or a writer, social media can be either your friend or your foe. This is even more important for a relative unknown or an up-and-coming-not-quite-there-yet star. The creative industries are one of the most difficult industries to get a foot in the door. They are completely subjective industries where most times you are judged on yourself and the impression you give before they will give you a chance to be judged on your talent. This brings us to the old scenario where a young and hopeful graduate is ready to enter the work-world but in countless interviews is told that though they have the qualifications and the look, they don’t have the experience to get the job? This always leaves the young graduate despondent because how does he/she get experience if they can’t get a job in the first place?

So as a creative wanting to break into your chosen sphere, how do you get the bigwigs – these are usually corporates who think with their wallets and guard their time jealously – to sit up and pay attention to you?

You get online! You could do a number of other cost and time consuming activities to engage their attention but at this point your cost and your time is probably limited. So the easiest way is to build an effective and engaging social media that is market-savvy to your specific industry. How? Below is the set of tools available to you in social media…

Your social media tools

Now you may be looking at this and think there are way too many options up there and counting away the hours it will take to build a social presence in each of these media tools…Fear not! These may be all the tools available to you but you do not need to use every one of these tools. You need to choose which are the best tools. When considering that, you need to focus on these factors:

  • What is best for you as an individual?
  • What is best for your talent/service as a marketing tool?
  • It is all about who you know in this world so what is best for your talent/service as a networking tool?
  • What are the most popular social media sites used by your future colleagues in your industry?
  • What are the most popular and watched sites by the bigwigs and decision makers in your industry?

So before reading on, take a notepad and a pen and write down these 5 factors. Then answer them.

Are you starting to form a picture of your social media presence yet?

I am going to tell you about what I use in social networking. I am a writer and my product is my words. So the social media sites are perfect for someone in my industry. I am however also an experienced sales and marketing manager so I have a little more of an insider track on how to sell a product and how to market it.

The social media/networking sites I am listed on are, from longest running to newest:

  • E-mail/SMS
  • Facebook (personal profile)
  • WordPress – Blogging
  • Twitter (personal profile)
  • Facebook groups (related to writing)
  • Facebook group admin / creator (related to writing)
  • Website
  • tumblr
  • Facebook Fan Page
  • Twitter (writer account)
  • Facebook (separate writer profile)
  • GoodReads
  • Blog Hops
  • Linked In
  • Google+
  • Google+ Hangouts
  • Twitter chat host (a weekly writing craft chat)

Now from the above you will see that I have two Facebook profiles and two Twitter accounts. I also have 4 WordPress blogs. Now although writers and most creatives can be accused of having multiple personalities this is not the reason why I have different profiles / sites on the same social media/networking sites. I have a private life and a professional life. I use my personal profiles for personal networking with friends and family and not necessarily friends who are in the same industry as me. I use the professional profiles for anything and everything related to my writing business.

“Writing business”? But you thought writing was a “creative” industry and not sullied with the muddiness of “business”? Wrong! If you are writing as a hobby then yes it is purely creative. But if you are in this for the long haul and hope to make a living from your creativity than you MUST look at writing just like you would any other job or any other Business. Believe me if you want to get noticed and make it in this business, you will need to work harder than at anything else you have ever worked at.

For me the most effective methods of getting noticed and building a readership/following as well as networking with decision makers has been Facebook, Twitter and Blogging. Facebook is still one of the most preferred and effective tools out there. As we hear constantly in the media, if Facebook were a country it would have the third highest population in the world. The next effective method, especially in the writing and publishing world is Twitter. With Twitter you can reach hundreds of followers as well as follow and connect with the who’s who in whatever industry you want to break into.

Then there is blogging. Blogging is incredibly effective to market your actual product – which in a writer’s world is our words and our ability to hold a reader’s attention so that they keep coming back for more.

I have 4 separate blogs that are all writing related but differently marketed. This blog is my creativity and inspiration blog. I blog here on creative exercises, creative tips and tools as well as spotlighting up and coming authors and creatives in the industry. In my other blog, Wrestling the Muse, I blog about my lessons learned while undertaking the adventures of full-time writing. Then I have a poetry portfolio blog, Soul Photographs,  where I blog poetry and all things related to poetry. Just recently I started my fourth blog, Amazon Wanderings, where I will be blogging about my adventure traveling. You probably wonder why I need 4 blogs and why don’t I use one blog with 4 different uses. I have done it very specifically to create niche blogs and niche readerships/followings for each blog. Yes it means I have more blogs to upkeep but this is when a blogging schedule comes in handy.

So in answer to my initial question: If you are a Wallflower when it comes to social media, why are you retreating?  How are you planning on getting noticed in your industry?

Watch out for Part 2 coming tomorrow on how to stop retreating and how to become an effective social butterfly…

Tell me in the meantime: What social networking do you find works best? What social networking baffles you? What social networking do you dislike or find unnecessary?

Join me here tomorrow when I share with you how to effectively market yourself. Remember writing and publishing is big business. Know what your strengths and weaknesses are. It is time to get market-savvy in social media….

Monday Mental Muscles | My story, your story, her story, the story…

Today on #storycraft – on twitter – we discussed POV or Points of View in a story. What is most common? What is most challenging? What works? What doesn’t work? Single or multiple? 

POV in a story is unavoidable. In fact POV is unavoidable in most areas of our daily life. Depending on who is telling the story will guide the listener’s or reader’s perspective and judgement. Just by using a different point of view in a story can change the whole direction of the story. POV is power. But like all bases of power, if used correctly it will aid the story and better the story, if used incorrectly it will bring ruin.

BBC Mug of the Day 3 - Points of View
Image by Bods via Flickr

 Breaking it down we have the two most common points of view in a story:

  • First (1st) Person
  • Third (3rd) Person

What is the difference between these two POVs in simple terms? 

First person is telling the story from a character’s point of view using the pronouns “I”, “me”, “my” and “mine”. This POV brings depth to your story because as your character is telling it, the reader sees, hears, touches,tastes and feels the same things that the character does. They are literally walking in your character’s shoes. This is very useful to a writer because immediately it brings sympathy andy empathy into the relationship between the story and the reader. The reader starts “pulling” for the character to succeed. The cons are that it can be limiting as you can only tell the story through one set of eyes and one perspective.

Third person is the most common and most preferred POV in writing. Third person is the writer using a narrator or character to tell the story the way they see it unfold. You will see that the pronouns used here are “her”, “his”, “their”, “she”, “he” or “them”. Though the story is told from more of a distance, than with 1st Person, you can show all the elements and characters of the scene. Third Person is like focusing through the lens and view-finder of a camera and then taking a picture. 

Then there is a third POV called Second (2nd) Person. This is the writer telling the story directly to the reader, either using themselves as the narrator or using a character as the narrator. The pronouns used here are “you” and “your”. This is the least used POV out of the three. It is one that is very difficult to get right without “lecturing” the reader. 

There is no correct POV to use for any story although for certain genres there are preferred suggestions on POV. Ultimately choosing the POV depends on the writer and the type of story they are telling. Then it brings us to whether you should have a single POV or multiple POVs in a story. Again this depends on how you as the writer want to tell your story. The golden rule in all instances though is: 

Don’t confuse the reader.

If you are going to attempt multiple POVs it is better to keep very distinctive voices for each different POV. Multiple POVs or switching POVs in a story can work very well. They work especially well if the story has more than one tense flowing through it. You can keep the tenses separate and distinct by choosing a different POV for each different tense. Another effective use for switching POVs is if you have characters of different genders telling the story. Again though, you would have to be true to that character’s voice. 

Summing up from the chat we had today on #storycraft:

Summing up: 3rd is preferred method but 1st is effective for YA and for immediacy as well as getting into character’s head..Important to have a distinct Voice for each POV if switching POV in story. Keep in mind, don’t confuse the reader…When switching genders for different POVs…keep true to gender. Betas of different genders come in handy then.

This brings me to the Mental Muscles for this Monday:

Today I want you to write a scene. It can be any scene. Pick 1 POV. Then put it aside and rewrite the scene in a different POV. Then lastly put that aside and rewrite the scene in multiple POVs. 

If you want a further challenge, rewrite using different tenses. 

If you have never written in 1st Person for instance, this will give you a feel for it. Remember every day we need to be flexing those mental muscles of ours. As writers we need that mental muscle – the brain – to be fit, healthy and flexible. So start flexing those muscles. 

If you want to read more of the #storycraft chat I mentioned at the beginning of the post: just click on the first #storycraft and it will take you to the chat transcript.

Join the conversation: What is your preferred POV as a writer then as a reader? Why?

I am back blogging!!

lock
Image via Wikipedia

Well this has been a very frustrating 5 days. Since Thursday last week I have been locked out of my blog as well as all other WordPress sites. I was ok on Friday. On Saturday I was starting to get impatient. By Sunday I was nail-biting, wondering whether any of my posts would still be there. By Monday I had succumbed to the idea that it may be a long while until I get back onto WordPress. I was thankful that, in the worst case scenario of being locked out permanently, I had backed up all my posts and could re-archive them via a new blog.

The one plus about the situation was that I finally got to grips with tumblr. I had toyed with tumblr this year; mainly using it for posting photographs. But with WordPress denied to me, I was forced to get tumblrised with tumblr. I learnt how to add a comments tab as well as a “Facebook Like” page. I also realised that should the need rise, I could blog from tumblr.

Just as I was giving up hope on WordPress and preparing to grieve my loss of my beautiful Dragonfly Scrolls, I logged on this evening and….I was in. The site was very slow and took about 15 minutes to get me in but I was in. The first thing I did was check that all my previous posts were intact and unharmed. Thankfully I can report that they are all intact.

I did have a few breakthroughs during my enforced lock-out. I was forced to get down and dirty with a short story that I have to write this month. I had a theme and an idea but the characters and the essential plot kept on evading me. Finally inspiration struck and I had my main character. The story suddenly came alive for me.

This made me realise once more that for me Character is the all-important element in a story. Without a Character I have no emotional connection no matter how good the story idea may be. So for me no Character is a creative block.

So now I have a Character and I can see where this story is going. Suddenly where before a faceless Character stood at a four-way crossing not knowing which way was the best route to take; now a Character with purpose and drive took me down a route that was suddenly clear of obstacles.

Another plus about this enforced lock-out was that  inspiration struck constantly this last weekend. I have a head full of story ideas. So I have to invest in a new notebook that I can keep handy and capture the ideas as they flow. I have five submissions to complete by the end of this month, not to mention work on two WIPs. So these ideas are going to have to take a backseat for a little while until I take them out and give them the full attention they deserve.

For now I am just happy to be back in the land of WordPress. Watch out for me here. The next post will be a new interview for the Warrior Wednesdays series…If you don’t find me here know that I have been locked out again. Do not despair there is more than one way to word a blog. If not on WordPress, look for me on tumblr. Post I will…by hook, crook, WordPress or tumblr…

For now I leave you with a taste of one of my WIPs. This is a piece I tumbled on my tumblr site:

A snapped twig in the dark

Inspiration is sometimes loud and jarring. But sometimes it is that one snapped twig in the dark forest. There is an eery silence and you believe you are all alone and then very faintly you hear a distinctive snap: someone is walking there. Suddenly you are not alone.

Today I heard the snapped twig in the dark forests of my imagination. It is the foot tread of a story. It moves quickly and quietly through the forest. Is it following me or am I following it? I still my thoughts and listen. The dark silence is almost deafening. Nothing.

Out of the corner of my eye I catch a glimmer of movement. There is a shadow behind the tree. My heart beats violently struggling to maintain its home in my chest.

I feel watched.

Yellow eyes…

© All rights reserved Kim Koning.

Detox with The Mad Hatter

John Tenniel- Alice's mad tea party, colour
Image via Wikipedia

Do you ever feel that there is too much demanding your attention? Do you ever wish you could pause and rewind? Do you ever wish you could mute the world? Sometimes your brain can go into overdrive from being over stimulated. This last week felt like that for me. I wanted to power off the time switch and freeze time for just a moment to be able to catch my breath. I had a migraine for over a week that would not disappear and left me in pain and feeling grumpy and frustrated. The migraine was my fault and the fault of modern technology.

You see I was simply doing too much and my mind was overheating which caused the migraine attack. So left with no other choice, I decided to take a day and night off from everything and everyone. I turned off the Macbook which meant that I killed a few birds with one close of my Macbook: Facebook, Twitter, WIP, Blog. I switched off my mobile phone. I did not have music or television playing in the background. Then I holed up with my long overdue books needing to be read. I read in the quiet. Wouldn’t you know? My week-long migraine attack is gone.

Yes I must admit there was a small part of me that felt guilty, ok a large part, and I kept on catching my closed Macbook in my eye line. I could hear the chatter on Facebook and Twitter calling, then there was this blog aching to be updated with a new post. Not to mention my WIP was aching to be molly-coddled. But I resisted. This was the best mental detox for me.

In this world of technology it has become very difficult to just switch off to rest and relax. I am as guilty of this as the next person. I am also a person who tends to pile on things on my plate that just simply have to be done.

I have a little troll on my bedside table. It has a scrunched up face and bright pink punk hair. But the reason I have such a creature on my bedside table is that he is holding up a bright pink sign that says “Nobody is Perfect.”. I need to have that within close viewing distance to remind myself to go easy on myself.

Today I realised that though I am always thinking there is never enough time in a day to get things done let along compartmentalise all my me’s, work me, writer me, daughter me, sister me, friend me, critique partner me; the problem and the fault is my own. I am not the Energiser Bunny as much as I wish I were. Instead lately I have been feeling like the White Rabbit with the clock running around in Alice in Wonderland crying, “It’s late. It’s late. I’m late. I’m late.”.

So today I decided to be like The Mad Hatter, The March Hare and the dormouse and just take a chill pill, let the madness of the world continue around me without me in it for a while. The world did not stop turning, the white rabbit is still running around but for a moment I actually enjoyed a day that did not pass me by in a blur. Best of all I feel refreshed and do not have an aching head.

So your Monday Muscle is to set aside 1 whole day this week for a mental and technological detox. Sit at the table with the Mad Hatter and laugh at his silly nonsensical jokes. Ignore the late white rabbit. Do not turn on the computer. Do not turn on the TV. Do not turn on the stereo system / iPod. Turn off your mobile. Unhook the landline phone. Make an appointment with yourself. Sit outside. Take a walk. Read a book. You have a whole day to do nothing. Believe me you may be looking at this blog post now in abject horror, thinking does this silly girl not know how much I still have to do. I do know but I am saying that it will all still be there tomorrow. Give yourself one day off. Just like the body needs a detox, it is even more vital that your mind needs a detox. Healthy and Rested Mind = Healthy and Refreshed Body.

Now enjoy doing nothing and you can thank me afterwards.

– Kim

© All Rights Reserved Kim Koning.

Online Creative Clusters

online friends
Image by ritab38315 via Flickr

In July last year I started this WordPress Blog and not long after that I signed up to Twitter. Since then I have joined 4 online writing / creative groups. I remember wondering how I would develop any sort of following either through this blog or through my tweets. But I have a following and I have learnt a lot about myself as a writer the last 6 months.

I have been reading a lot of blogs online from agents, editors, publishers and writers that developing an online presence is essential to the success of any pre-published writer. I had heard about it quite some time before deciding to build an online presence myself.

Initially I was fairly resistant to the idea. For me it seemed improbable that I would be able to build any sort of following. I also did not know anything about being a blogger let alone about being a successful blogger. Yes, I had a Facebook profile but that was for personal use. I knew that my blog would have to be at least interesting and maybe even useful. The other deterrent to starting a blog was that it felt like I was throwing a very small pebble into a very large ocean. With so many blogs out there, why would people choose to come to mine.

Eventually though I signed up to WordPress and I wrote my first post. I remember being absolutely amazed when people commented on that first post. By then I had signed up for twitter and after following a few people who returned the favour by following me, I had a small following.

Since then my following has grown. I am more confident in the direction that I want my blog posts to go. I am also more confident on Twitter. Although I must admit, it was quite addictive just sitting watching tweets from all over the world. It fascinated and amazed me, sometimes even shocked me, what people were willing to tweet about.

I mentioned the 4 online writing / creative sites I joined. They are:

I have grown to enjoy blogging and tweeting but it is these 4 groups that give me the most joy in my online presence. I have “met” friends through these sites and found mentors. I have been inspired, supported, encouraged and always felt included. Any creative pursuit can be very lonely. As much as your friends and family want to support you, sometimes they have no idea how much energy your creativity can take from you. The people in these 4 groups do know and understand because they are in exactly the same pathway in life. It is through these online friendships and mentorship that I have both grown as a person and a writer. I am still growing and learning more each day.

So yes I would say that building an online presence is vital to the success of a pre-published author. But I am not saying yes for the same reason so many other people say yes. I am saying yes it is vital because of the support, the networking, the friendships and the mentorship that you gain through an online presence. For me this was the impetus to take up the challenge of NaNoWriMo 2010 in November. I knew that I could do it because at any time of day or night somewhere in the world I would have a supportive voice who understood my frustrations, my excitements, my stresses and my wins.

NaNoWriMo also brought me into contact with another inspiring group called:

The Word Warriors

This was a group formed by the creator and developer of Scribblerati, namely an amazing dynamo of a lady called Lia Keyes. Through the drive of this group I managed to complete NaNoWriMo in the first 2 weeks of November. Many of the writers/members of this group have become firm friends and beacons of inspiration and creativity.

I am a firm follower of Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way. In her books she talks about the importance of forming creative clusters. In this spread out world we live in, it is sometime difficult to form creative clusters in the real-time. The wonder of this age is that it has become such a digital driven world. So I am proud to say that 2010 I took up Julia Cameron’s wise advice and now belong to 5 successful creative clusters.

I have a feeling though that 2011 is the year when I am going to really be leaning on these inspirational and creative friends. 2011 is a year that is going to be devoted to creativity and branching out into more and newer forms of creativity. For this I am going to need the support, encouragement, challenging, critiquing, mentoring and friendship of my creative clusters.

So I am taking the time to tell you – no make that to urge you to develop an online presence this year. It may take some time and effort on your part but at the end of it the reward of having the support of people who are creative too far outweighs any effort it will take you to build that online presence.


Thank you to my creative clusters and to all the members of the 5 groups I belong to: You have my appreciation and admiration. Thank you all for pushing me on and encouraging me these last 6 months whether it was for Blogging or for NaNoWriMo or any other creative ventures and goals I set myself. You have all become friends of the truest nature. I treasure and cherish my creative clusters. I look forward to many years of friendship,mentorship and support.

Make 2011 the year of the Online Creative Clusters.


© All Rights Reserved Kim Koning.