Caption Challenge – October 2016 #5

First the caption challenge winners:

fantasy-prompt

Caption Challenge: Anne of Lothlorien

“But they forgot their map and water and rations, so they got lost and perished of starvation and thirst on the way there.”

Six-Word-Story: Corissa, Maiden of Praise

“She rode alone to her doom.”

Congratulations, guys! And now for this week’s collage:

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Pictures from Pinterest

You’ve two entries. One for a caption, one for a six word story. On Saturday I’ll pick a winning caption and I’ll post it next Monday along with the name of the winner and the next caption challenge!

October Highlights

October Highlights

Greetings, my fellow Pilgrims. How have you been treating life this month? Stumbled over any adventures recently? Found any moments to relax calmly with a book? One can wish, right. And hey, I’ve found some time to read this month, though not as much as I’d like. Apparently life and time do not approve of the fullness of my scheduled.

My Life

Let’s see… *frowns* *rubs forehead* How can one be so busy, and yet when it comes time to document what has happened they go blank.

There’s been school, of course. Not for me, but I’ve been teaching two of my brothers how to write papers. You can imagine how thrilled they are about that, but hey…it’s something everyone should know how to do. Another brother, who’s taken an fiction, is learning how to write a novel this year so I’ve been trying to explain how to structure a plot, how conflict works, the need for some reason to win, etc. It’s been…interesting. *bites lip*

Another piece of life keeping me busy is NaNo…or the preparation there of. For one, I’ve been outlining my project or, to be more exact, stressing because I can’t seem to outline it. You’ll get more details of what exactly I’ll be writing in next week’s newsletter. Otherwise you’ll have to wait until my grand reveal part way through November. *smirks* Go on, you can sign up to my newsletter if you want.

Ok, self-promotion over. Hey, I have to do it sometime, right? Anyway, as some of you might know, I help out with a great site for young Christian writers called Kingdom Pen. If you’ve not heard of them, you should seriously check them out. It’s quite cool. But we are putting together a series of NaNo email, one for each day of November, with quotes, inspiration, a day by day countdown and word goal count-up. So I’ve been putting together templates, organizing graphics, helping get blog posts together and write out emails… Like I said, busy. But I think the emails are going to be fun, and if you want to check them out and sign up yourself, you can do that over here.

Oh yes, and no picture is complete without a few pictures. Here’s two photos I took of an agate slice I decorated with the wire outline of the King’s Sign from Fidelyon.

One final ‘life’ note is that I’m going to a writer’s conference in Anderson Indiana today! I’m very excited about that…you’ll get more information in a special post in a week or two. If I have time, of course.

From the mouths of others

I like to scribble down funny lines I hear others say. And with eight younger siblings, I pick up a random assortment of logic and thoughts. Here are some of my favorite ‘quotes’ of the past few months from my four-year-old sister and youngest sibling:

Sister climbing on tire swing with me:

Me: But who is going to push us?

Her: You can push me.

Her, looking at all the freckles on my arms:

“Where are the polka dots on your arms from?”

After telling Grace to sit down with a snack:

“I always do, sometimes.”

A fire lighter is a fire snap


Death according to my four-year-old sister:

“Blood, then dirt on top of you.”

Writing

Ehh, yes, so I’ve been doing that like normal.

Wips

  • I’ve changed the title of my Hansel and Gretel retelling from Forest of Darkness to Shadows of the Harsweald. Also, it is now progressing splendidly in that it is now readable. I’ll probably have it ready for beta readers sometime in latish November.
  • I’m going over Fidelyon, implementing beta reader feedback and shortening the novel. It was nearly 9000 words over the 140,000 word limit (which is the maximum word count Enclave Publishing will accept, and since I’d like to try to get the novel traditionally published there, I need to shave it down some.) At first I was in despair…how can one clip two chapter’s worth of material? But then I realized if I only shortened each chapter by 100 words through tightening here and there, I’d cut the novel down by 5500 just like that. And since I’ve been able to take around 200 words off each chapter so far, I’ve high hopes of landing beneath the word count when I’m finished with this round of polishing.
  • Scarlet Rose is coming along, kind of. I set up a deadline for it to be readable by the end of the year, then abandoned said deadline within a week because I’m really trying to work on priorities (meaning three main projects is maybe enough…)
  • Planning for my NaNo project. My NaNo name is Hope Ann.

Other Writing

Other

  • Oh, one other thing, I’m putting together an email list of anyone who wants to receive alerts when I have something ready to beta read. If you’re interested, you can sign up here.

Cliche Benders

The dystopian dictator who wants a rebellion so he doesn’t have to rule. A rebellion which wants to set up a worse government than that already in place. A futuristic society with a lenient government.

Me

My reaction when I’ve messed something up.

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From Megamind…the best ‘super villain’ ever

Fandom Corner

I love Lord of the Ring and Hobbit songs. Here is one of my new favorites I found this month.

What have you been up to this month? What are your favorite Middle Earth songs or versions of said songs? Have you ever seen Megamind? And, the question everyone is asking nowadays, are you taking part in NaNo?

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Christian Convictions: Assassination in Writing

Assassination in Writing

Death comes in many forms when one is writing a book. Weather, sickness, battle, or personal revenge. In many books, warfare of some kind or another progresses through the story. As writers, sometimes we need to decipher what is acceptable for our characters to do; or at least what they can do in good conscious (Of course, this doesn’t mean they always will behave right, because having a character fail morally and then having to face the results of his failings is a great story-line.)

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Now I am not a pacifist by any stretch of the imagination. The Bible says do not kill, but it does allow for war. Killing in battle or self-defense is acceptable; murder is not. Pacifism, when one should fight, if one should fight…it’s quite a large topic that I might address sometime else if people show interest. Right now I’m focusing on a narrower topic. Given that fighting and killing is a part of general warfare, how should a Christian (and, by extension your characters) deal with assassination?

In battle, men line up in shield walls, shoot from defended trenches, or swoop above the enemy in planes. The enemy knows they are there…sometimes. There are also ambushes, surprise attacks, night attacks, and dawn attacks were damage is done and then the attackers fade into the night. A killed guard. Sniper shots inside enemy encampment. It is all part of warfare and part of the danger of being in the army.

Assassination moves a little closer to home. This is no random shot fired or a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. This is purposeful. Watching a target, waiting for him, looking through a scope at a real person instead of a nameless soldier. It is pulling the trigger, throwing a knife, or striking up close from an ambushment with a dagger.

So, is assassination in wartime an acceptable course of action?

The answer, I believe, is yes. With some restrictions.

Now don’t get me wrong, just because killing is a part of war doesn’t mean it is desirable. It will be a necessary part of surviving, but war doesn’t mean all rules go and one can kill or assassinate anyone on the opposite side.

I do not believe, even in war, that killing or assassinating the defenseless and civilians is ever right. When it comes to an armed enemy, however, it is another matter. Soldiers die on the field, from sickness, and in surprise attacks or in ambushes. Generals, officers, and leaders may, for practical reasons, stay away from the main conflict, but they are still actively engaged in warfare. As a soldier, they are fighting with the knowledge that they could die. And if it is not possible to kill a target from the battlefield, then I see no problem with a secret attack which gets the job done.

It may not seem the most honorable course of action, but since when is killing honorable? What must be done, must be done. In a pitched battle, in an ambush, or in a surgical strike behind the lines, if a leader of an army needs to be taken out, then there is no moral problem for your characters accomplishing the task.

And an item of note here – this does not mean your characters are ‘playing God’ and deciding who lives and who dies. A soldier in another book, when confronted with the question about how he could kill, especially when he knew those dying probably weren’t Christians, put it very well. I don’t remember the exact quote but it was to the tenor of ‘God is in control, and if He wants someone to be saved, then He will save that person regardless of what I do. But as a soldier for my country, I will do my duty to the best of my ability…even if that means killing’.

When it comes to writing, I do not have a moral problem with a character planning an assassination on the leader or general of an opposing side. Now, just because it might not be a matter of conscience, it does not mean it won’t affect and haunt your character in personal and emotional ways…which is, of course, what you want for them. Your characters shouldn’t plan an assassination for no reason, but if there is a reason then have no hesitation throwing the turmoil and contention of planning and performing (either in success or failure) at them and seeing what happens.

Note: I do not claim to know everything about the various topics I’ll be discussing in these Christian Conviction articles. What I write is what I believe after reading the Bible and holding conversations with friends and parents, but that does not mean I’m not interested in Bible evidence for another point of view. If the topics interest you, I encourage you to study them on your own as well. Friendly discussion in the comments is encouraged if you have points you’d like to bring up, but this is not the place for a full-scale debate. : )

Caption Challenge – October 2016 #4

First the caption challenge winners:

fantasy-prompt

Caption Challenge: Raina of Rosendown

“In a humble cottage, there lived a man trained to kill.”

Six-Word-Story: Quinton of Boron

“A dagger, a memory, a choice.”

Congratulations, guys! And now for this week’s collage:

fantasy-prompt

Pictures from Pinterest

You’ve two entries. One for a caption, one for a six word story. On Saturday I’ll pick a winning caption and I’ll post it next Monday along with the name of the winner and the next caption challenge!

Lady Dragon, Tela Du Blog Tour

So, today, I am part of the blog tour by Kendra E. Ardnek’s newest book Lady Dragon, Tela Du! Not only did I get to interview Kendra, I also have a snippet from the book and a free gift for you all!

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Two girls with one face
Two girls with twisted fate
One in purple, one in red
One shall speak the other’s death
Who shall win their final war?
Lady Dragon or Tela Du?

Amber, the Lady Dragon, has been promised a fifty-year reign over Rizkaland and nothing can stop her from claiming it. But when you’ve lived six thousand years, fifty is such a pitiful number. Only one person can keep her from making this reign permanent – the Tela Du, a girl who shall share Amber’s face.

The last thing Petra wants is a magical world interrupting her plans for a normal life, let alone an ultimate battle against the Lady Dragon with only one prophesied survivor. She has her childhood best friend, Reuben, at her side, but she’s not sure if he’s more of a help or a hindrance right now. Though she’d much prefer to just return home and forget about this whole crazy affair, things change when she discovers that the world has surprising connections to her own family – including her sister who disappeared without a trace two years before. Still, Rizkaland can’t possibly expect her to risk her very life, can it?

 

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Kendra E. Ardnek is a homeschool graduate who picked up a pen at an early age and never put it down. The eldest of four, she makes her home in the Piney Woods of East Texas with her parents, younger siblings, giant herd of giraffes, and honor guard of nutcrackers.

Blog: knittedbygodsplan.blogspot.com

Official Website: kendraeardnek.weebly.com

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Add Lady Dragon, Tela Du to GoodreadsAdd Lady Dragon, Tela Du to Goodreads

Buy the Book:

Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01JFUF3XE

Paperback: https://www.createspace.com/6354914

Interview Time!

Welcome to Writing in the Light, Kendra! I know this is a common question, but could you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you became a writer?

Hi! Thanks for having me. I’m a 21-year-old ENFP author with an imagination too wild for my own good. And I happen to blame my current release for my decision to become a writer. While I had dabbled around with several stories before that point, I was never really serious until some friends and I decided to make a “better” Narnia movie. As the oldest among us and the most adamant about the plot, I took up the task of writing the play. The thing became my baby as I wrote it over and over, each draft getting further and further away from the Narnia plot until at length I realized that it would be better off as a book. By this point, the written word had completely consumed me and there was no turning back.

What are your future writing plans?

I plan to participate in NaNo this year, writing ROCKS, a superhero boarding school dystopia, and I’m working on a companion novel to the Rizkaland Legends called “Worth of a King.” Beyond that, I intend to focus on Fairy Tale releases next year, most notably “Poison Kiss,” a retelling of Sleeping Beauty where the jilted fairy decided to change things up and declared that true love’s kiss would bring the curse of death rather than the spinning wheel. I’m currently in the middle of the first draft of the third Rizkaland Legend, which I hope to release sometime in 2018. Beyond that, I have very few definites.

What is your favorite part of writing?

Plotting and editing. Plotting because I don’t have to write anything down – just explore the limits of possibilities and get to know the characters. Editing because the book is already written and I only have to make it better.

Moving on to your newest book, Lady Dragon, Tela Du, can you tell us where you got the name ‘Tela Du’?

I decided I needed a name for Amber’s look-alike enemy, played around with syllables for a few minutes, and that’s what came of it. There is possibly a German influence, because I tried to learn German for a while … but it was indirect.

Did any characters in LDTD surprise you with the direction they took?

Well, in the very first draft, Ashna surprised me by existing. The girl just ran out of nowhere and was suddenly incredibly vital to the plot and I hadn’t even planned her.

Uh, in this draft though? Reuben actually surprised me by how eager he was to go to Rizkaland. I hadn’t really done much development for his character up to this point, so I had no idea that he was the kid who sat in the closet hoping to find Narnia – or that he still retained such delusions.

Also, I learned a few new things about the scope of Laura’s powers. For instance, I learned that she has what she calls her “Voice” which is the ability to say a single word at a certain frequency so that it shakes the fabric of reality and subtly influences people to do as she bids. It’s not something she does very often, as she runs the risk of damaging reality, but she can do it.

Quite a few writers put colors to their books. I think it’s safe to say that red and purple are dominate colors in LDTD, but are there any other colors you visualize as being mixed in?

Yeah, it’s safe to say that red and purple are pretty important. I tend to think in colors, not necessarily pictures, so colors do end up pretty important in my writing. The main color that I visualize when I think of LDTD is gold, though, hence why it’s on the cover.

 

A friend recently started a tag where one described their book as a room. What type of room would you describe LDTD as?

And another friend tagged me with that. I need to get around to doing it. Anywho.

LDTD is a grand, very austere room with golden walls, floor, and ceiling, and not somewhere you go to relax. There is no furniture beyond a collection of shelves, on which sit various magical trinkets. Weapons are scattered over the floor. In the very center stand the statues of two girls, one purple, one red.

 

Moving to writing in general, how have you, as a Christian, incorporated Christian themes into your own stories?

I incorporate them as they come up and make an issue of themselves. I deal a lot with themes of forgiveness, love, and sacrifice, though a running theme of choices, consequences, and God’s sovereign plan cropped in LDTD that I hadn’t planned.

 

Finally, do you have any tips for writers who are thinking of publishing on their own?

  1. Learn to take criticism – and seek critique partners who will give you honest, thorough feedback.
  2. Build your readerbase now. Whether you go independent or traditional, having an existing audience when you publish is vital.

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Check out this snippet I got a hold of:

“Reuben, we are not going to follow a random stranger to his house!” Petra protested, realizing that Reuben was about to do just that.

“Petra, it’ll be fine,” said Reuben, confirming Petra’s fear. “We need answers about what we’re supposed to do here in this world, and we might as well receive them at a house rather than standing here in nature. Besides, in books…”

“You do realize how often in books, the first person the hero meets is an agent for the enemy? Seriously, Reuben, show some discretion. We don’t even know this guy’s name, and you’re already agreeing to visit his house.”

It was true that the guy had read a few too many fantasy novels growing up, and had never quite given up his hope of traveling to another world someday, but this was ridiculous even for him.

“My name is Noraeto if that makes you feel any better, ma’am,” the guy spoke up. “I suppose you don’t have any reason to trust me. You’ll have to take me at my word, but I think you ought to know that you look just like our queen, and if she finds out about you, she is going to want to kill you. I don’t think you want word of your presence here to get back to her.”

“Okay, cool. Guess that means I’ll go back home. I didn’t really want to come here in the first place.” She turned and started to walk away, but was forced to stop short when Reuben grabbed her braid. She gave a huff and turned back around. “Reuben, I’ve warned you about that.”

“Sorry, it’s convenient, and gets your attention.” Reuben gave a half-shrug and turned back to Noraeto. “Why would your queen want to kill Petra just because she looks like her? Does it have anything to do with a prophecy?”

“You and your prophecies,” muttered Petra, rolling her eyes skyward.

 

And no, I didn’t forget; the free gift. Because…Water Princess, Fire Prince is currently free! But the promotion expires tonight, so grab it today!

Fidelyon: ‘F’ with Ethaniel

‘F’ with Ethaniel:

Ethaniel, the main character in my novel, Fidelyon, has taken it upon himself to introduce you to his world by going through an alphabet of terms and names.

This is the letter you’ve all been waiting for, isn’t it? Admit it, you want to know what Fidelyon means. And if you don’t, then I’m going to tell you anyway. Well, as much of it as I know anyway, which frankly isn’t as much as I’d like to know.

Fidelyon is the word emblazoned on the Shield of the Prince. Gold letters on green in the ancient language…it looks pretty cool. As for its meaning, as far as I can understand, it stands for ‘a faith that gives all’. That seems clear enough, but I’ve a feeling there’s something more, or that the word ‘fidelyon’ is part of a clue.

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You see, in the prophecy about the shield and the spear and the clash, there’s a line that talks about discovering the riddle of the nameless shield. Since it bears the word ‘fidelyon’, I’m assuming that ‘fidelyon’ has something to do with the riddle…whatever the riddle exactly it. I guess that’s why it’s a riddle, because if I knew it then there wouldn’t be much glory in solving it. Still, the shield could give me some help.

For now I’m waiting, hoping that something will happen to reveal the meaning. Until then, let us all keep the faith with fidelyon.

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New Fantasy Times: Mentors for Hire

Mentors for Hire

Mentorship used to be relegated to those who had nowhere else to go. The former experts who outlived their glory. Older men, frequenting alehouses to pick fights or brooding in the dark corners of their bare cottages until some stripling, in desperate need of training, brightened their life and pulled them out of apathy. Perhaps the reason most retiring soldiers avoided mentorship was the high mortality rate once the apprentice learned almost everything they needed to know. But for you experts out there in need of a job, I have good news. Mentorship is now becoming respectable again. Its ranks have opened for many kinds of trainers and you are more likely to survive nowadays than you ever would have in the past.

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There is really only one requirement for mentorship…a thorough knowledge of the topic to be studied. I’ve seen younger men teaching professional soldiers how to shoot bows. I’ve seen girls train retired rangers in the art of writing. I’ve seen old women teaching boys camouflage, stealth, and mending, while mere children give pointers on tracking, weather, or living on the street. Princes teach peasants and farmer’s wives train kings.

Of course, those who are older do tend to know topics better, but this isn’t always the case. A twenty-year-old who’s been practicing survival to keep alive for half his life will have more expertise than a ranger who knows the facts but has only been on the field for a few years. And really, a thorough knowledge isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. No one knows everything, and as long as a mentor can admit that, learning from his apprentice even as he teaches him all he knows, things will be fine. Probably. Frankly, some of the most flourishing mentorships I’ve known is when both parties play the part of both mentor and apprentice in different topics.

Another point of note is that an apprentice can have more than one mentor, while a mentor might have several apprentices. This doesn’t happen all the time, of course, but such interweaving does tend to make the best use of resources.

As for the mentors themselves, rest assured you won’t turn gloomy and grim if you take the job. That’s not to say some frustration and pain won’t be involved. Unless you have an ideal apprentice, it won’t be easy…but there’s nothing to say you can’t face it with your own spirit and character. Jokes, pranks, teasing, reading while your apprentice practices their postures, surprises, dryness…each mentor has their own way of teaching and their own way of keeping up spirits, which is a vital task no matter your temperament.

Of course, while your apprentice will likely pick up on some of your quirks, they will be much quicker on picking up on your flaws. A sharp tongue. Brooding silence. A perchance for too much food or comfort… they will see it all. And they will use it as an excuse for their own behavior. So beware. If you think you’re not flaws, then take an apprentice and you’ll recognize your mistake very quickly.

And I think…oh yes, there is that final important matter of terminating the mentorship without dying. It’s quite easy, really. Leave before your apprentice faces whatever challenge he’s been trying to overcome. Let him fight his own battles and don’t throw yourself in front of a spear or sword or arrow, no matter how emotionally attached you’ve become during mentorship.

What? You don’t like the idea of abandonment or ditching self-sacrifice? I should have known better…though I might point out that some mentors teach solely for money and have no problems leaving him be. Moving on, there are alternatives to death and dishonor.

For one, you (probably) have a life too. Send your apprentice off to finish a task on his or her own while you turn to more personal matters. Sometimes life gives you a way out by throwing circumstances at you which force your apprentice to operate alone. Maybe you are wounded, are captured, are out spying, or are dealing with some other life and death matter of your own. Maybe you have another apprentice you are teaching, or a mentor of your own to save. Or maybe you just happen to be relaxing in some secluded valley during a peaceful lull, and can’t be reached in time for the main fight.

Perhaps you even stand by your apprentice’s side during the whole fight but be warned, there will come a time that he will need to rise up on his own. You may be there to see him do it, or you may have to leave if he is too dependent on you. But, mentally, each apprentice will need to come into his own and claim the prize you’ve been teaching him to acquire.

And really, besides the late nights, hard work, meager payment (like glory…which one can’t eat), emotional trauma, danger, and some likelihood of death (I said death was lessening, not that it was gone), there is no duty so rewarding as a mentorship. Assuming your apprentice doesn’t turn against you in the end, but that is a topic for another day. For now, if you have knowledge and love to teach, then at least consider the mentorship path. You won’t regret it.

Hopefully.

 

Have any questions, legends, or trending cliches you’d like Kirin Quillblade (or Elena) to address? Please comment below; he promises to at least read what you have to say between his realm leaper’s missions, even if he holds the rights to choose what to write about and what to ignore.

 

Join the Legend Seekers for monthly stories about the realm leapers and fantasy time-travelers, Kirin and Elena. Click here to sign up

Caption Challenge – October 2016 #3

First the caption challenge winners:

fantasy-prompt

Caption Challenge: Anne of Lothlorien

This cloak and these knives
Are not who I am
My master has bent me
I’m a broken man
I need your true love
To heal my cracked soul
To straighten my mind
And render me whole
I need you to see
If only you could
That no matter what happens
For you I would.

Six-Word-Story: Bluejay

An heroic saying. A dangerous promise.

Congratulations, guys! And now for this week’s collage:

fantasy-prompt

Pictures from Pinterest

You’ve two entries. One for a caption, one for a six word story. On Saturday I’ll pick a winning caption and I’ll post it next Monday along with the name of the winner and the next caption challenge.

Book Review: A Time To Rise

If you follow a number of blogs, you’ve probably already seen others raving over the Out of Time Trilogy. Today is what, the last day of the blog tour for A Time to Rise? But that’s just how it worked out; it doesn’t mean I love the book any less than all those who reviewed it at the first chance.atimetorise_6_29

Parvin Blackwater is dead.

At least…that’s what the Council—and the world—thinks. But her sacrifice tore down part of the Wall long enough to stir up hope and rebellion in the people. Now she will rise again. Strong, free, and fearless.

Parvin and Solomon must uncover the mysterious clues that Jude left behind in order to destroy the projected Wall once and for all. Meanwhile, the Council schemes to new levels of technology in its attempts to keep the people contained. Can a one-handed Radical and a scarred ex-Enforcer really bring shalom to the world?

Book review of A Time to Rise

Nadine Brandes didn’t disappoint in this exciting conclusion to her Out of Time series. Perhaps now her poor characters will be able to have a well deserved rest. *pulls them all close*

Like the first two books, I loved the interweaving of Christian truths and personal struggles with an exciting story line. These books don’t only entertain, they make one think. And Parvin’s struggles are so real and human that I relate to her closely despite our differences.

Filled with surprises and twists, A Time to Rise is thrilling conclusion to this Christian dystopian trilogy.

If you want to order A Time to Rise, you can do so here:

A Time to Rise

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Oh, and one other piece of cool news…there’s a Facebook party for A Time to Rise this coming Tuesday. Click on the picture below to check it out and join!

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Social Media: What Does an Author Really Need?

What social media sites should an author have?

There are so many social media sites, but does an author really need to be on all of them? Is one or more of them indispensable to the serious author or do they just clutter and waste time? And the answer is… *draws deep breath* everyone has different views. What a surprise.

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From what I’ve seen, focused work on most platforms can bring in revenue if you know what you’re doing. At least there are courses on how to grow and make money on Twitter, or using Pinterest, or with Facebook ads, from people who have used these sites themselves. That being said, an author only has so much time, so you want to spend it on what works and not just throw out information and hope it draws some people in. This involves trial and error (or buying a course), analytics, figuring out where your target audience congregates…and is beyond the scope of this article today.

However, over time, I have developed opinions on what platforms an author should have and their uses. Everyone has their own favorite sites and keep in mind that some of this is personal opinion, but hopefully it will give you some place to start if you are trying to figure out where you should devote your online time.

Website or Blog

These two terms are often used interchangeably, and they might be mingled together in reality as well, but there is a subtle difference. A website has information about you, pages leading to your books, contact information, etc. A blog is where you can post articles, pictures, stories, and updates on your life.

Every author ought to have a website of some kind. This is your central hub, the place you can send everyone to find out more about you and your work. This is where people can sign up to your newsletter and follow your life. A blog of some kind, either linked or as part of the site, is also handy. You don’t have to post every week or even regularly, just so long as you have a place your fans can find out the latest information about you and your work.

There are many free sites for both websites and blogs. I’ve tried Weebly, Blogger, and WordPress. WordPress is by far my favorite site for blogging, while I use Weebly for my main website (though some authors, including me, use two different places and domain names for their website and blog, it’s quite easy to just have your blog be part of your website under one domain name.)

Facebook

Facebook is a great place to connect with other people. You can create an author page for people to follow you, and this is useful for small updates on your life and work, but the main use I’ve found using Facebook is the ability to connect with other writers and readers. There are writing groups. There are promotional events and Facebook parties. You can message other authors and follow them easier. Though not necessary, I do think Facebook is a useful tool for authors to have.

Instagram

Instagram is a social media site where one posts pictures. If you like taking pictures of your life, then it can be quite fun. You can connect with fans to some degree as well, though not as much as if you were on a site like Facebook. Depending on what type of blog you have, you can also link your Instagram account to the sidebar of your blog so the changing pictures will keep fresh information on your web page even when you are too busy to post to your blog yourself.

Twitter

Some people love Twitter. Some are hardly on there. I’m one of the latter because I simply don’t have the time it would take to keep up with a Twitter account, but if you have the time to check it often, it can be a good place to connect with readers. If you just want to post several times a day, you can use an app called Hootsuite. You can schedule posts to a number of social media sites with Hootsuite, including Twitter, allowing one to sit down for an hour and schedule daily tweets for a whole month. Then you can forget about it (and yet still have some semblance of a presence there), only checking it once or twice a day.

Pinterest

I do make Pinterest friendly pins of my blog posts and post them to drive traffic to my blog. But, besides that, the main reason I use Pinterest is to find pictures of my characters and create storyboards. Pinterest is a very cool tool for any author to use. You’re not going to connect directly to fans through there, but marketing is a possibility if you have learned how to use it (I haven’t though I’ve seen courses on using Pinterest to sell your product) and you should be able to drive traffic to your blog or newsletter as well.

Email List

This isn’t really a site, but it is the most important marketing platform. And this isn’t my opinion…this is what every expert I listen to says. If you want to be able to sell well, build an email list. I’ll probably have an article about how to create an email list and what one can use it for next month, but there are places like Mail Chimp that let you create quite a sizable list before you have to start paying for the service.

In the end, having a website or blog is essential to providing a foundation for yourself and your work. Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are most useful when it comes to one on one contacting of fans and other writers. Most authors tend to pick and spend most of their social media times one one of these sites. An email list is your largest marketing weapon, so spend the time needed to build it up. Pinterest is fun as well as useful, especially for those who write fiction.

What social media sites do you enjoy? Do you have any tips about marketing or connecting with readers on various sites? Is there a social media site which you love that I’ve missed? I’d love to hear your comments below.