Monday, May 31, 2010

Movie Clip Monday: Funniest Cat Clips

This is why I like cats. :-) Ignore the stuff at the beginning - it's really cheesy.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Author Interview: Daron Fraley!

This week has been so much fun! I've truly enjoyed getting to know the authors I've interviewed and can't wait to conduct more. Don't forget to let me know if you'd be interested in swapping interviews!

Daron Fraley and I met through a writer's group made up of people from last year's LDStorymakers conference Bootcamp group. We found out rather quickly that we both have a love for Linux, and that he'd worked with my dad on a few occasions. I was thrilled to be accepted by Valor Publishing Group, because I already knew a couple of the people they represented (Daron and Jenni James). I'm excited to introduce him to my readers.

Daron's website
Daron on Twitter: @DaronFraley

Daron, welcome to my blog! It's a nice place, and my readers are nice, too. :-)

Now then, let's get to business. What sorts of things do you do when not writing/working?

Well, this is mostly a summer thing, but I really like camping and fishing. As a boy I would fish for hours. Never wanted to go home. I must admit that in the winter I am mostly a homebody. I don't care much for winter sports because I don't like the cold. But I love hot chocolate and wassail.

Hopefully your wife likes these things as well. :-) Speaking of her, she's one of the coolest people I've gotten to know recently. Tell us how you met.

She was dating my roommate at BYU. I was new in the apartment, and my roommate suggested that I take Jennifer on our group date (since I had met her), and my roommate took another gal. Pretty simple. We played volleyball and ate ice cream afterwards.

Then, I'm assuming, you fell in love and got married, right? :-) I knew I should've brought her in on this interview so my readers could get the juicy details. :-)

All right, back to the interview. Would you please explain to us why kill -9 would be Chuck Norris's secret weapon? :-)

Ooh. You are a vicious creature, aren't you Andrea? It couldn't be kill -15? You had to go for the jugular? Straight for -9? I think it will be far more fun to just say: "These are extremely technical computer procedures, not for the faint of heart, the uninitiated, or those who play minesweeper", and then leave it at that. Mystery... there is power in mystery, isn't there?

Most definitely. Especially where things like this are concerned:

"Make me a sandwich."
"Sudo make me a sandwich."

Uh... little bit of a command-line issue there...  the command "make" is going to get awfully upset about non existent targets like "me". Observe:

lachish@elessar:~$ sudo make me a sandwich
make: *** No rule to make target `me'.  Stop.

I am sure you know, but your readers may not... This is how you fix that problem:
lachish@elessar:~$ sudo make "me a sandwich"

It's good to be a geek.

Ha ha ha! I keep getting us off track. :-) Anyway, How did you get involved with computers, especially Linux (go tux!), and how did you get involved with writing? Is there a correlation between the two?

I got involved with computers because years ago I was forced to by a Zenith SuperSport 286 Laptop as part of my job as an insurance agent at Prudential. I became more interested in the computer than I was in insurance. I taught myself how to use WordPerfect 5.1 for DOS. After a couple of years and the when the internet started to become a household word (yes, I was a computer geek before Mosaic became Netscape Navigator), I got into Linux at the suggestion of a friend who said if I REALLY wanted to learn about computers, I needed to get away from that DOS / Windows 3.1 garbage. Wow. I'm getting old, aren't I?

Writing... I have felt a hunger to write ever since my Creative Writing class in High School. I always thought it would be cool to write a book. One day I made a list of written goals. "Write a book" was on the list. Funny how that works, isn't it? Is there a correlation? Hmmm. Maybe. I think both working with computers and writing are creative outlets. I like to build things. Perhaps my book was a building exercise?

Where did the idea for The Thorn come? How many books will there be total in The Chronicles of Gan series? Do you plan to write more books?

I am writing book two, "Heaven's Garden" right now. Well, not right this very minute, but now. Yes. There will be three in the series.

Time to get serious (what I mean is no more joking, for at least the next 20 seconds). The idea came from this quote by Neil A. Maxwell: "How many planets are there in the universe with people on them? We don’t know, but we are not alone in the universe! God is not the God of only one planet!

“I testify that Jesus is truly the Lord of the universe, 'that by [Christ], and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God.' D&C 76:24"

—Neal A. Maxwell

That's a really good quote. I have to admit, a couple of months ago I started writing a book based on a different planet. But it's nothing like The Thorn--it's more sci fi than anything. Speaking of your book, I'm nearly finished reading it, and have really enjoyed it. Tell us how you manage to write, work a full time job, and be married with kids?

Yeah. Tough question. Can I say that this is nearly impossible? I am really struggling with it. There is not enough time in the day. If I figure this out... how to balance my life correctly so nothing suffers... I'll let you know.

Do you have any advice for writers who have crammed-full schedules?

Scratch out some time to write. Take the laptop with you to soccer practice. ALWAYS carry a notebook with you. Inspiration hits at strange times. You have got to be able to write it down, because you WON'T remember it.

What sort of writing goals do you have? Daily? Weekly? Monthly?

My current writing goal: 1000 words a day. And I didn't meet it today. :)

I haven't met mine yet for today, either. :-) It's tough getting everything finished.

Last but not least, who do you appreciate and look up to the most: Brandon Sanderson, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and Tchaikovsky combined, OR Linus Torvalds? :-)

LOL. Linus Torvalds is a very respectable icon. He literally turned the information technology field upon its head. Linux is now EVERYWHERE. Embedded in just about everything you buy anymore. People just don't know it. But, I am going to have to give it to my writer and music heroes. I love the written word. And I love music. Once again, there is simply not enough time in the day to satisfy all of my interests! When the Lord came to Solomon and asked what he would want as a blessing, Solomon asked for wisdom. I would ask for either time, or stamina to be able to get more done with less sleep. :)

This is one of those things we've learned: nearly everything run by a computer is powered/operated by Linux. If you don't see the Windows icon, chances are it's Linux. Again, a "Go Tux!" is needed. :-)

Thank you for doing this interview. And readers, don't forget to check out his interview of ME over at his blog!

Also, let me know if you'd be interested in swapping interviews. :-)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Author Interview: Krista Lynne Jensen

Okay, Krista is a seriously cool person. Especially after finishing her interview of me, I've decided she's one of the best in the world. I hope you enjoy getting to know her!

Her contact information:
@KristaLJensen -Twitter
Krista Anglesey Jensen -Facebook
Krista Lynne Jensen -Author Blog

And now, the woman herself! (applause):

(I seriously love this picture of her)

Hi, Krista! I'm so excited to be interviewing you! First off, under what name are you publishing?

I couldn't be more excited to be publishing with Covenant Communications, Inc. Is that what you meant? Because I'll be using my given name, thank you. Krista Lynne Jensen. Unless they tell me to change it. They have that power. Did I mention I was thrilled to be with Covenant? I wonder what pen name I would use...

I'd suggest something like Luna Moon. :-) Rolls right off the tongue, that one. :-)

It's lovely, but maybe too redundant. And too Twilighty. I'll keep thinking...

Tell us about the books you have written. Which was the first, and why did you write it?

My first book was a small personal history, centered around a couple of tragic events in my life. I couldn't shake the almost physical need to write the story down, and at first it was just for my family, but then my writing group urged me to submit it to several places. After a couple rewrites, I received some very encouraging rejection letters (no, really) and decided to let it rest while I learned more about the writing process. It was only after that (and because of the feedback, and encouragement from my writing group) that I tried writing fiction. After the idea for my first novel took root, I fell in love with writing fiction, and while I waited 9 months to hear from Covenant about that first novel, I wrote 5 more, and then a 6th after Covenant accepted THE ORCHARD. I finally understood what my husband feels every football season. I had found my passion! Only mine lasts all year long!

Wow--five books in nine months? That's amazing! How did you manage it without leaving the computer? :-)

Umm... I would have night writing sessions, from the time the kids were in bed until about 3 or 4 am. I would be running the kids around and have an idea and get it down as soon as I got home. We ate a lot of cereal and popcorn and hotdogs. I was a perfectionist in keeping the house clean, and that kind of went out the window. I think it made a huge difference that the prehistoric laptop I was using didn't have internet. It was easy to go and go without being lured away by something shiny flashy.

Tell us about the book you're publishing and when it comes out.

THE ORCHARD (the title is still tentative) is a modern telling of Jane Austen's PERSUASION, my favorite novel of hers, set in the beautiful Flathead Valley of Montana. I asked myself how Austen's characters got where they were when her story begins, and came up with the answers for the first half of my book. The second half of the book is actually where the elements from Austen's story are woven in. It was so exciting to write and have the characters come to life! I hope they do for the readers.

After her mother's sudden death and her father's unexpected estrangement, Alisen Embry finds comfort and purpose working the cherry orchard adjoining her family's Montana home on Flathead Lake. When she meets Derick, a boy with dreams and spirit, she realizes his answers fill the empty spaces in her life. No two souls fit better, and no place could be closer to heaven than the orchard in Summer.

Their connection, however, is threatened by the intolerance and secrets of her father, and just when Alisen thinks she has found everything that could make her happy, she is given choices testing her love, and loyalty.

Derick Whitney is a compulsive returned missionary with his future mapped out, and beautiful Alisen quickly seals her place in those plans, and his heart, with her endless questions and obvious desire for the truth. But when his plans are both realized and ripped apart, he buries the whispers of wisdom and direction in bitterness and blame, leaving heaven, vowing never to return.

The magic of the valley and one letter brings these two lost spirits to face the choices they have made and learn that losing themselves may be the only way they find home.

THE ORCHARD is slated to come out Spring 2011! Keep it in mind, because that still seems like a really long time...
You can sample Chapter 1 here.

It sounds really good! Next question: how do you deal with writer's block?

So far, I'm mostly dealing with how to fit writing into my life. There was a long stretch where I was always working on something, and now it seems I am always editing or revising. Right now I am revising the sequel to THE ORCHARD for Covenant, and they are looking at the 3rd in the trilogy as we speak, so I have plenty to do. I'll be getting the notes from my new editor, Samantha Van Walraven, on THE ORCHARD soon. The whole process is new to me. I have 11 pages of a new story, but I'm an outliner, and it doesn't have one, and sometimes I wonder if I'll be able to take it somewhere. I guess when I have time, it will come to me.

How does your family participate in your writing?

Ha ha, that's a funny question. My family's participation has... evolved. At first, they were excited, my oldest kids would read my first chapters and my husband would scratch his head, and my youngest kids would ask for a snack. Then, my oldest kids stopped reading and started scowling, my husband would scratch his head, and my youngest would ask for dinner. Now, my daughter proofreads (she doesn't pull any punches), my son and I discuss plot structure and character development in the books he is reading, my husband scratches his head with a smile because he loves my writing (It wasn't until after he read my first novel that he started using the phrase, "Leave your mom alone, she's writing.") and he reminds me often of the writing schedule I posted for myself on the fridge, and my youngest have memorized their activity schedule to keep me on track. Somedays I get "the look", or rather, my laptop gets "the look". But on the day my book was accepted, their was a lot of jumping up and down, dancing, and Rockband. It was awesome.

Yeah, I can imagine! Your husband must be a head scratching kind of guy. :-) What are the ages of your children now?

Actually, we both do a lot of that. If we acted like we knew it all we'd be insufferable. My kids are 17, almost 15, 12, and 8. They are a lot of the reason we scratch our heads. They astound. In mostly good ways!

What was your first job? Which job has helped you the most where writing is concerned?

My first job was working after school and Saturday's at my mom's craft shop. I was 14. Then I got a job at a donut shop/grill called "The Hole-n-One" in the mall. Then it was Sears, a flower shop, then a daycare center. Then I had my own family and was able to stay home. It wasn't easy, but I fought to make it an adventure. I think living life, surviving tough stuff, traveling, loving, reading, raising a family, and meeting all kinds of people have helped me the most in my writing. I wouldn't have been able to write what I do now at the age of 14, even if I'd had all the skills, because I was pretty sheltered at that point. Henry David Thoreau said, "How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live." I feel that every time I reach into my characters and they have to take what I throw at them.

What an awesome quote! I'm sure he wouldn't mind if I used it elsewhere. :-) So, when did you decide to be a writer?

I've always loved to write. It was a way to express myself through my shyness. But to write seriously? My writing group pushed me, challenged me, told me they wouldn't be surprised to see my books in the store someday. When I would read out loud to them, and then see their faces when I finished... I loved that. I wanted more of that. I hope I get more. It's a wonderful, terrifying thing when somebody tells me they can't wait to read my book, because then, they may read it. And they'll have an opinion about it. We are a brazen, foolish lot.

What are your top three goals where writing is concerned?

1) See all the novels I've written so far published.

2) Revisit my personal story and see it published. I hope it might touch others who have struggled with similar trials.

3) Do all I can to promote LDS literature while being the best mom, wife, sister, daughter I can be.

What three pieces of advice would you give to aspiring authors?

1) Make the time to write. Take it. Blast a hole in your schedule. If you feel the passion to get something down, follow an idea, make a character come to life, then DO IT.

2) At the same time, figure out how to make your family a priority. It's so important that they know you are doing something you love, but that you still love them more, and they still come first.

3) Learn everything you can about story structure, editing, character development, dialogue, all of it. Publishers LOVE a clean ms. There is so much to learn, and I've found that as I learn, critique isn't as hard to take.

4) (I know, you said 3, but I have 4) Join a writing group, get people to read the story and not say, "Wow, that was amazing, I loved it." Get them to say, "I was confused here", "This was an awkward sentence", "I need more on this character", "Not enough conflict", "REWRITE!"... okay that last one is still tough to take. But when you finish a story, and have even self-edited, you are too close, too blinded by love. You need second and third+ opinions. As the author, it is so easy to see what's in your head as you write, but you may not be translating those ideas clearly enough for a reader to understand what you can see. Feedback from a reader helps with that. You don't need to completely give the story over to others. You have the power to compromise, to take the feedback and your vision, and meld the two. Solid, constructive feedback is necessary. TOUGH IT OUT.

Okay, I have more, but you can go visit my blog, Lovelyn McCray, er, I mean Krista Lynne Jensen, every Tuesday, where I post the things I am learning along the way. You can visit it other days, too, because I post interviews like this one on Thursdays, and then share random writerly things the rest of the week, and I have information on my other books. I told myself I would start doing contests and giveaways after I reached 50 followers, and I'm VERY close, so visit and see what happens!

Thank you, Andrea!

It was so much fun to get to know you better! Can't wait to meet you in person!

Krista is hosting a contest over on her blog with some sweet prizes! Read both of our interviews, then follow her instructions to enter the contest.

And for those of you who are interested in swapping interviews, let me know!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Blog formats?

Many of you know I'm relatively new to this whole world of blogging. I've only seriously blogged since January of this year, though I've had one for almost a year. I find myself needing help from time to time.

What I need help with now are the following:

Where can I go to find more blog background things? I've used hotbliggityblog. And that's it. I'd like a HUGE list of places to go--trusted places, and I'd like the links to be put into the comments sections of this post so I have them in one place.

Also, I know that I have to have a template in place in order to use someone else's code for the background. At least that's what hotbliggityblog requires. Are there sites where I can get different templates? Blogger doesn't give many options to choose from, and I don't really like the ones there.

Thanks ahead of time! And stay tuned for tomorrow's author interview with Krista Jensen, and Friday's with Daron Fraley. (And their interviews of me!)

Writing Tips: Where Is My Story Going?

I've been thinking about a question I was asked a while ago by a friend. How did I start my story? How did I know what was going to happen next? Well, at first I didn't. I knew I wanted Jacob to go into a different world, I knew who he'd meet, and I knew how the book would end, but I didn't know the biggest chunk: the middle.

So, I sat down and drew a map of the land Jacob would enter. I filled it with forests, a couple of lakes, towns, and castles. Then I took each place, knowing something had to happen there and decided what it would be. I did it in a sort of "reverse" way, though, and those of you who've read The Key of Kilenya, will know what I'm talking about. I didn't have Jacob in mind when I put the obstacles down, but it worked out any way.

It's important to make your characters suffer--the story would be boring otherwise. If you are having a hard time knowing what to have them experience, make a map. For fantasy, here is a website I used to learn how to draw maps. Robert's expertise saved me many hours of frustration from trees that looked like curly hair. (And I'm not kidding. :-) (and I call myself an artist... :-))) I used his advice and built on it until I had a map I liked.

If the story isn't fantasy based, using a map would still help. If the character lives in a city, draw all the places s/he's likely to visit. Remember that each location needs to propel the story forward, and you'll figure out what should happen there.

For other random tips on writing, go back to the Index.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Author Interview: Don Carey

I've decided to start swapping author interviews, and I was really excited when others were actually interested in doing so!

My first interview is of Don Carey, who's book Bumpy Landings, (Cedar Fort), comes out late 2010 or early 2011. I met Don through Twitter (go Twitter!), and am thrilled to present him to my readers.

Don's website
Don's twitter

How long have you been a writer?
I always enjoyed creative writing assignments in school, and got about 5 hand-written pages into an epic novel as a teen, but for the most part I let music scratch my creative itch.

As a youth, I had a strong interest in film production, and almost changed colleges so I could get a film degree. In 2002 I started looking into making short movies, but the only part of the process I could actually manage was to write little screenplays. As I worked on those, it soon became clear that I would probably never be able to pull off even simple little films, but the stories themselves were actually pretty good, and so I decided to concentrate on writing.

What kind of a writer do you believe yourself to be?
I believe myself to be a totally awesome writer. And humble, too.

Seriously, I'm still trying to figure that out. As for technique, I've always believed in being organized and having a solid foundation in place on which to build a story. I need to know where a scene is going before I can do much about writing it. Otherwise, the countless possibilities will paralyze me.

Which authors do you look up to the most?
I was afraid you'd ask a question like this. I realize this answer is going to sound like it's full of cheese, but I really haven't met a writer I DON'T look up to. There are so many great people working this gig, and I feel honored to be numbered among them. But, of course, you want me to name names. I will, but this is an extremely incomplete list.

I have put Julie Wright, Josi Kilpack, Annette Lyon, James Dashner, The J.S. Savage boys, Tristi Pinkston and Robison Wells on the list. I wrote up a little bit about WHY I look up to these writers, but that made this answer way too long and I decided it would be a good post in and of itself, so I'll be putting that on my blog in the next few days. 

In which genres do you want to write? Are there any you are particularly drawn to, but don't ever plan to use?
I have always been a fan of science fiction and, to a lesser degree, fantasy. I have quite a few science fiction projects percolating in my mind, including a half-written novel and a short story I hope to submit for publication this year.

My current story is a contemporary romantic coming of age, however. I grew up in Hawaii, and that's where this story is set. In Hawaii I had many friends from Polynesia and Asia, and came to know and love the strong spirits of these great people. I would love to tell the stories of pioneering Saints from the Pacific in much the same way that the stories of European pioneers have been told in recent popular LDS fiction.

Where do you get your inspiration for writing?
I have a hyperactive imagination, and it is constantly coming up with "what if" scenarios. These often come from news stories, historical accounts, and books or movies that didn't live up to their potential. I like to try and follow those scenarios in my mind and see where they end up. More than a few I think have promise. 

Tell us about Bumpy Landings. Where did the idea come for this book?
As I mentioned earlier, this a coming-of-age story set in Hawaii. At its heart, it's about Jordan MacDonald, a young returned missionary struggling to maintain the independence he gained on his mission once he returns home. I'm an aspiring pilot, so I use flying as the symbol of Jordan's independence. And since the book is set at BYU-Hawaii, there's a bit of romance thrown in, too.

My pitch is probably too long to include here, but can be found at

This book started out as a screenplay in 2002 and came from a "what-if" idea that has absolutely nothing to do with the current story. But it introduced me to many of the characters, and over the years I whittled away at different concepts until the current storyline finally emerged.

How long did it take to write it?
I picked at the story for five years before I stumbled upon Tristi Pinkston's Writing Challenge in October of 2007 , and decided to get serious about writing this book. I took pages to the 2008 LDStorymakers Bootcamp, and applied the things I learned as I wrote and rewrote through the rest of the year. At Storymakers 2009 I pitched the book to a publisher, and based on that feedback I polished and submitted to a handful of publishers later in the year. I got my contract with Cedar Fort this past February. 

What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
First, there are very few good writers. Most - if not all - published authors owe their success to being good RE-writers. Give yourself permission to write dreadful prose. Then, once you have a draft, revise and rewrite until it absolutely shines.

Second, recognize that there is an awful lot involved in making a publishable story - character, dialog, plot, conflict, voice - and in order to become good, you need to learn and practice. That means reading and writing. A lot.

Third, accept yourself as a writer. It took me a long time before I would tell anyone about my writing, and I felt guilty for taking time to write. But if you want to be successful, you need to allow yourself the time to write. Even if you don't aspire to writing as a full-time career, you need to treat your writing the way you would a part-time job. Schedule the time, and stick to that schedule. Doing so will require sacrifice, but the results will be worth the effort.

Thank you!
Thanks so much for suggesting this interview. Best of luck to you and your release of The Key of Kilenya!

My own comment on his advice: follow it! He knows what he's talking about.
For those of you who're interested in swapping interviews, let me know! My only requirement is that you have to have been accepted for publication. That way we can help each other get the word out about our books!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Book Review: Summer in Paris

Author: Michele Ashman Bell
Michele's website

Kenzy is your average teenager: life revolves around her, she surrounds herself with friends, possessions, and anything which will make her look cool. She's also incredibly motivated, and is working toward joining one of the country's top ballet studios. Everything falls down around her, however, when her parents declare bankruptcy and send her west to stay with relatives in Paris, Idaho. She finds herself friendless, phoneless, and frustrated with the small-town mentality. Her outlook changes, however, when she first hears about Adam, the teenage town recluse who is suspected by most everyone to have murdered his best friend. She finds herself drawn to him and is determined to get to know him - with entertaining results.

I LOVED this book! I laughed several times while reading it - especially when Kenzy's first attempt at gathering eggs from the chicken coop is described. Having chickens myself, and loving to subject my friends to them, it's always entertaining to read the troubles other people go through when experiencing them for the first time. :-) I was very pleased with the ending, with the character development, and the different plots of the story. Morals are present, but they aren't shoved into the reader's face. Everything was tastefully done.

Michele has a talent for creating deep characters and believable scenarios. I found myself not wanting to put the book down, and loved watching Kenzy's progress as she went from uber-selfish, to hardworking and dedicated.

I'd call this book a "warm fuzzy" kind of book. The tension gets high, and the reader is rewarded with a great ending and a well-developed plot. I'd love to hear what others think of it when they read it. :-)

Learn more about Summer in Paris here.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

I broke my brain!

Okay, so here's where my writing inexperience comes in. To preface, a little information: I wrote book one of this series in almost one sitting. I didn't ever get tired of it - it was all I could think about. I didn't have any goals, I didn't have any deadlines. Just an internal pushometer which wouldn't let me rest until I'd finished the book. (I guess that counts as a goal. :-))

I'm finding myself in different circumstances this time. In fact, I think I broke my brain. The creativity is there, but it feels like it's behind heavy curtains. Like as if I'm wallowing in beef gravy, up to my chin. I sit at this computer, and my fingers refuse to type--the message isn't getting there from my thoughts. And my brain is all muddled and tired.

Is it okay to take a day off in these circumstances? Even with my daily word-count goal? Experienced writers--I know you've been here. What do you do when you break your brains? (Or am I the only one... :-))

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Networking: Twitter Tips

I love Twitter. I was VERY skeptical about it at first, though. I mean, who wouldn't be? With a name like "Twitter" it seems so. . . so. . . cheesy. Now I'm super glad I joined - some of my best writerly friends were found through Twitter.

This post might be really short, but I'm going to give an "Andrea" tutorial on Twitter--a VERY basic one. :-) A necessary disclaimer: I'm not a Twitter genius--I'm still pretty new to it. For crying out loud, I only have 150 followers. :-) So, I'll mention things that either bother ME, or work for ME. Take it for what it's worth. :-)

First, we like to have followers. It makes us feel like we're not talking to ourselves. Here are a few ways to get more tweeps:
  • Follow other people - those who are likely to follow you back. Agents, editors, publishers, etc., don't normally return follows. Almost no one famous does. Which is fine--we follow them because they've experienced what we're trying to do, and they know what works and what doesn't and are usually willing to share. (Hint: if the person has 4,248 followers, and is only following 82, unless you personally know them, they're not going to return your follow. :-))
  • Use hashtags. #amreading, #amwriting, #writegoal, #amediting, #writing, #editing, and #music are a few of my favorites. People occasionally search through the list of tags and follow others who use them.
  • Respond to other people's tweets. They might never answer you, but it's always so much fun when they do. Most of my Twitter friends came through back and forth conversations. Keep in mind, though, if they aren't following you, they'll never see your response. (Unless they do follow you in the future and read through your previous tweets.) The best way to know if someone is following you is to click on their name and look on the right side of the page under Actions. If it says "message so and so" then they're following you.
  • Don't be too serious. :-) I read somewhere that your tweets should be 25% business related, and 75% personal, fun, thought provoking, etc. (It might actually be more than that: 15% business, %85 personal, etc.) For the most part, people want to know who YOU are--what makes you tick--not what you're selling (whether it be yourself, your book, your campaign, etc.). My favorite people to follow are those who add their personality into their tweets by talking about their kids, how they burned the bread, a good song they've just discovered, computer problems, funny things kids say, or other random bits about their day. I'd take a guess that most people are like me: they don't want to be preached to 75% of the time and hear only 25% about you.

  • Be courteous in how many tweets you send out. If you aren't Stephenie Meyer or JK Rowling, people don't want to hear from you every five minutes during the day (and night). I've un-followed people for being too talkative. It crowds out my "home" page! :-) (I still haven't had time to find a Twitter program to clear out my incoming tweets. Please recommend a good one. :-)) Also: if you're in a conversation, this doesn't apply. I'm talking about new topics here.
  • Pay attention to who your favorite tweeps are following and with whom they're conversing. (Don't take it too far, though. No one likes stalkers. :-)) I've return-followed several people mainly because I saw they were friends with my Twitter friends.
  • Use the #WW (Writer Wednesday) and #FF (Follow Friday) hashtags. Not only is this a great way to express gratitude to your people, but it also helps them get more followers. And what helps them, helps you, I promise. :-) Oh, and Twitter isn't case sensitive, so uppercase and lowercase don't affect whether you're responding to @AndreaPearson2 or @andreapearson2, or using #ff or #FF.
Okay, that's enough on how to get more people to follow you (and to stay, once they do). :-)

A few things to pay attention to:
  • When you respond to someone, the only people who see it are those who follow you AND that individual. Watch what you're saying in the "What's happening?" box. If you start it off with "@" followed by someone's name, you're responding to that person, and no one else will see it. (Except those who are following the both of you). If "What's happening?" has changed to "Reply to so-and-so" then you're responding. (I did warn you this would be pretty basic, didn't I? :-))
Yes, I did remove all of Calvin's convos. :-)
  • If you see something you want to respond to, don't just send out a random tweet without showing you're responding to that person. Before writing something, click on "reply," or, if you're using your cell, type in "@" before the person's name. It's really hard to know who's referring to what if you don't follow this protocol, and it's really annoying to catch only one side of the conversation. With a cell phone, copy and paste if you're worried about getting the person's name wrong.
My last bit of advice stems from Facebookers (like me) using Twitter. In Twitter, it isn't necessary to talk in third person. For example, "andreapearson2 says it's time to eat," or, "andreapearson2 wants to go biking now." That's a Facebook thing - and only Twitter noobs do it. :-) (*Andrea ducks as someone throws a shoe at her*)

I considered listing a bunch of people I've really enjoyed following, but didn't think that was a good idea in case I missed someone. There are AMAZING writers out there who are friendly, give great writing tips, and are dang hilarious. Send me an email (apATandreapearsonbooksDOTcom) if you'd like to know who they are and I'll send you my list. :-)

Anyway, I think that's about it. Did I miss any good, non-annoying ways to get more followers? And, what things have you learned which help you better use this wonderful site?

Back to Writing Tips Index

Monday, May 17, 2010

Movie Clip Monday: Gethsemane

I just heard this song for the first time - it's absolutely beautiful! The girl singing is nine-yr.-old Hannah Ford. I feel guilty for posting it without also giving you the link to the album:

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Virtues: to Tell or Not to Tell?

Just a thought on the art of big-talking. :-)

I went on a date a little while ago and have been thinking a lot about it. The guy was very practiced in the art of Virtue Telling, and I had to agree: his virtues, if true, are the kind that people need to have. Kindness, common sense, good driving skills, hard working, friendly, etc. It didn't impress me, but more annoyed me - like it would have everyone else.

I'm old enough to recognize that many of us (if not all) go through stages in life where we practice this "art." Maybe it stems from insecurity - I've heard that before. Or, maybe it just comes from an over-healthy self-appreciation.

The thing with good attributes is there is no need to discuss them with people, or to tell people we have them. Why? Because, if they are truly important to us, they will come out in how we live our lives. And, if not in the short run, then in the long run. That's the huge thing about human nature: we live what we believe, and it's really hard to put on a long-term act.

Here's another thought: if a person doesn't want to take the time to understand who we really are, then perhaps they aren't worth our time. Does that sound harsh? You tell me.

Who knows, though. Maybe I'm off my rocker. :-)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Book Review: The Fountainhead

Author: Ayn Rand

The Fountainhead is the story of an architect named Howard Roark, who puts his work first in everything. His buildings are either greatly loved, or intensely hated and feared. Some consider him a genius and revere him - others avoid him and try to destroy him and his work.

It took reading the entire book before I fully understood the theme of this Ayn Rand classic. At first I thought it was the actual architecture - the buildings of the 1920's and 1930's. Then I thought the focus was on the relationships around Roark, including his love affair with Dominique Francon, an intelligent, stubborn woman. Finally, I came to understand what Rand was trying to say, and I was left completely awestruck. Read this statement Roark made of his acquaintance, Peter Keating:

"What was [Keating's] aim in life? Greatness, in other people's eyes. Fame, admiration, envy, all that which comes from others. Others dictated his convictions, which he did not hold, but he was satisfied that others believed he held them. Others were his prime concern. He did not want to be great, but to be thought great."

I read this over and over again - trying to let it sink in. Rand's message to all shows the need we have to stand up for what we believe, not what others believe. To be true to ourselves, to shine on our own, in our own unique way - not as a cookie-cutter of the "collective," but as an individual.

I'm ever amazed with Rand's talent. She is a master-writer. The words flow - free from the reader/writer relationship. The characters are well-developed, deep, and understandable (albeit hate-able at times). Nothing in this book was extra - every word was used to fully experience the story.

A few themes I recognized:
  • Individualism compared to collectivism (not surprising. I mean, it is Ayn Rand. :-))
  • Dedication
  • Hard work
  • Values: standards, morals, and sticking to them (I'm not talking about morality and chastity, since Roark didn't stick with those, but more the standards and morals in your work, actions, and conversation. Using what you have to express yourself, and staying to what you know is right for you, rather than pleasing the crowd and public.)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Movie Clip Monday: Panda Sneeze

Another favorite. :-) I used to watch this over and over and over again. :-)

Who else has already seen this?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Book Review: I'll Know You by Heart

Author: Kimberly Job
Kimberly's website is here.

I'll Know You by Heart is the story of an abused woman, Stephanie, who, after years of marriage, makes the decision to leave her husband when he attacks one of their children. She gets out on her own, but he follows her and will not leave them alone. Through her work, Stephanie meets a nice, attractive man, and has a choice to make - divorce her husband and leave him for good, or listen when he says he's changed and move back in with him.

I was drawn into this book from the very start. Kimberly has a captivating writing style - weaving intense emotions into every scene and chapter. The characters are heart-warming and love-able, and I instantly felt myself attached to Stephanie and her children.

A fear I have (one many people possess) is that I'll end up in an abusive relationship. I don't know why, but reading this book gave me strength - it helped me recognize the ever-present role our Father in Heaven has in our lives: how much He loves His children and is guiding them. For anyone looking for good, clean romance, I'll Know You by Heart is highly recommended.

For more information (including where to order it) go here.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Movie Clip Monday: Surprised Kitty

One of my students shared this with me, and I couldn't help but love it. :-)

I'm actually surprised I've never seen it - there are over 23 mil hits on it!