Monthly Archives: January 2012

Twitter Tuesdays #2

Okay, you’ve now had a week to play around with Twitter, check it out, and get to know it a little bit. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, check out my previous Twitter Tuesday post.)

Today I’m going to talk about setting up your profile, privacy settings, and sending out tweets.

Your Twitter Profile

Your Twitter profile is exceptionally important, and something you should work on immediately, if you haven’t done so already.

Once you’re logged into Twitter, you can click on your username, and it will take you to your profile page. The first thing you need to do is upload a picture. If you are an author, or anybody else trying to build any kind of a platform, I cannot stress enough the importance of putting a real picture there. AT THE VERY LEAST, use some kind of recognizable logo.

Even if you’re just casually using Twitter and messing around to see how it works, upload a photo of some sort, so you don’t get stuck with the weird-looking egg.

Here, also, you can choose to put your real name, your location, and your web address, if you have one.

Then it’s time to write your bio. This may be your first encounter with writing things “Twitter-style.” You have 160 characters to tell the world about yourself. That’s counting spaces and periods. If you went to college back when I did, it’s time right now to learn to quit double spacing after periods (it turns out you’re not supposed to do that anywhere anymore, anyway!)

Write whatever you want here. If you’re coming to Twitter to meet people for a specific purpose — like because you’re an author, MENTION THAT. If you’re a teacher, and you want to meet other digitally-minded educators, SAY SO. People read these when they’re looking for new people to follow.

Privacy Setting:

The vast majority of folks on Twitter do not use any privacy settings whatsoever, aside from not putting sensitive information in your profile, and blocking particular users.

It is possible to hide ALL OF YOUR TWEETS from anyone you haven’t approved (followed). It’s a little box you check on the settings page that says “Protect My Tweets.”

I don’t think there’s any point to this option. I really don’t. If you only want to communicate with certain people, it’s a lot easier to set privacy controls on your Facebook page, or stick to e-mail. You will never, ever, be able to use Twitter to its full potential if your Tweets are protected, and most of my upcoming Twitter Tuesdays posts will be useless to you.

Tweeting

Whenever you post a message, or a status update, or really communicate on Twitter at all, it is called “tweeting,” and the messages are “tweets.”

When you’re ready to send out your first tweet, click in the little box that says “compose tweet” and write whatever you want to tweet about. You have a limit of 140 characters.

I was on Facebook the other day, and one of my friends posted asking “What is the difference between sending a Tweet and posting a status on Facebook?”

The answer? When you’re a Twitter newbie, posting your first tweet — maybe there isn’t a whole lot of difference. 🙂 Except, there is a difference. You don’t HAVE to post a status update. Twitter is a living, vital stream, filled with millions of people who all have the potential to be awesome in your life, even if you’ve never met them before. Post a status message if you’d like, but you can also ask a question! You can say “I’m new here, what do I do now?” 🙂

Of course, the first issue you’re going to run into is that nobody is following you yet, so nobody will see your question. 🙂

So … send a message instead. You can send a message to ANYONE ON TWITTER at anytime, by simply typing @theirusername anywhere in your tweet.

Try it! You can tweet to me if you’d like. It might look like this Hey, @bputtroff! I’m new here. Help!

Or read a few tweets that are in the stream from people you’ve already followed, and reply to one. Have fun, be silly if that’s your personality. Tweet @personI’venevermet That peanut butter sandwich sounds good. Did you save me one?

Jump right in. You’ll be surprised at what a welcoming place it can be, and how quickly you’ll find some kindred spirits. (And if they block you because you asked for a peanut butter sandwich, well — they’re not your kind of tweep, anyway.)

Your assignment this week is — get your feet wet. Unblock your privacy settings if you had them blocked, and start sending out tweets into the Twittersphere. Be silly, be serious, ask questions. And keep following new people. Celebrities, sure, but also make an effort this week to use the search feature to find some real people who are interested in the same things you are, and send tweets to a couple of them — even if they’re not following you (yet!)

I’ll be back next Tuesday to cover another important Twitter issue — Re-tweeting! (And I might cover Direct Messages, too!)

If you have any special questions about Twitter, be sure to let me know in the comments!

Until then … Happy Tweeting! And … if you send me a tweet this week, I’ll make sure you have at least one follower! 🙂

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Sample Sunday (#SampleSunday)

It’s Sunday again, and today I’m sharing another excerpt.

This time, it’s from Seeds of Discovery, which is the first book in the Dusk Gate Chronicles. This scene is the first moment that Quinn actually decides to go for it — she closes her eyes, and steps into the nothing over a broken bridge.

Quinn gasped. The broken end of the half-missing structure was no longer broken, and it no longer ended. Instead of the disintegrating, broken concrete-and-stone edge, a wide stone walkway arced across the entire river. Cautiously, she put her other foot forward. The stone and mortar that should not have been there held firm. She spun around, ready to run back down the stone steps, but the sight stopped her cold.

The sun that should have been directly in front of her had moved, and now dipped below the tree line far to her left, casting strangely long shadows that cut obtrusively across the landscape. Even in the fading light of the irregular dusk, she could see that everything was different. Where the rocky riverbank should have sloped up to the highway, there was now a vast expanse of trees and open fields. Lights from unfamiliar buildings glimmered and sparked to life in the distance.

Slowly, Quinn let her eyes scan the area around her. The river was no longer a rocky, mountain creek underneath the bridge. Now, a wide expanse of water flowed lazily between the bush-covered banks on either side.  Downstream, the river continued uninterrupted to the southwest but seemed to widen significantly just past a break in the tree line. The view upstream was the most shocking. Instead of sloping up into the familiar peaks of the mountains she had seen all her life, a long valley spread out before her, sparsely populated by stands of trees and varieties of grass and wildflowers. In the distance where the horizon began to merge with the night sky, Quinn could just make out the outline of a thick forest.

“Now you’ve done it.” The sound of the voice below her jolted her like an electric shock. In the same instant that she registered the frowning face of William Rose, Quinn stumbled and fell down the steps at the end of the bridge, right into the bushes.

 

 

In case that interested you, Seeds of Discovery is on sale at Amazon right now, for just 99 cents. You can also read the first three chapters of this book by clicking on the Dusk Gate Chronicles link at the top of this page. 🙂

Twitter Tuesdays #1

I have decided to try something new here … a Tuesday series designed to introduce people to Twitter. I’ve come across a number of people in my online life lately who have no idea how to really use Twitter. Either they’ve never checked it out, or they’ve signed up, and now a huge stream of tweets is passing them by, and they have no idea how to interact with it. 🙂

There are, of course, lots of good Twitter resources on the web, and I will try to point you to some more of those, as well, but I thought I’d throw my two cents in, anyway. 🙂

Why Twitter?

First of all Twitter isn’t for everyone. If you only get on the internet occasionally to look up things, or to check in with your friends and family on Facebook, and you maybe click on a few links from there (like to this blog post, for example), Twitter is likely not for you, and you can skip the rest of this post. My dad has an e-mail address and a Facebook account. I remind him how to log into both on a regular basis. I will not be encouraging him to use Twitter.

If, however, you are a lover of online life, you like to meet new people, you’ve been on chat boards since they were dial-up BBSes, and you have some idea of your way around … Twitter is worth checking out.

If you are a writer, or an artist of any kind, or the owner of a business (large or micro), or anyone needing to build any kind of a platform, Twitter is pretty much a MUST.

Also, if you are a teacher, trying to learn how to increase your knowledge and use of technology in the digital age, and you don’t use Twitter, you’re missing out, trust me.

Facebook is fantastic for lots of things, but it does not allow you to meet and connect with people you don’t already know. (Well it CAN, but Facebook actually actively discourages this). If you want the opportunity to reach out beyond your third-grade buddies, or your neighbors, and actually interact with NEW people who have the same interests you do, and who like to share their resources … Twitter may not be the only place, but it is an AWESOME one.

Getting Started : The VERY, VERY Basics …

If what I’ve written above has intrigued you (or you’ve been meaning to try out Twitter anyway, and you just haven’t gotten around to it), keep reading.

Step One: Go to twitter.com

You will get a screen that says “New to Twitter? Join today!”

Enter your information. Remember to choose a secure password. 🙂

On page two, you will have a chance to change your information and to choose a username. Your username can be your real name, or any other name you choose. I recommend NOT choosing something terribly obscure, NOT going with a Twitter-generated one that has lots of extra numbers or letters, and KEEPING IT SHORT. If you are an author, go as close to whatever name you write under as you can. You can also choose a name that is related to your business.

Click the big, yellow “Create My Account” button! 🙂

Twitter will then automatically take you through a little tutorial.

Step Two: Following

This is the first place that Twitter is DRASTICALLY DIFFERENT than Facebook (and different than real life, too). On Facebook, friending people you don’t know is discouraged. In real life, “following” strangers is also bad news. On Twitter, though, following people is the whole point.

Here, you can choose to follow people you know, people you don’t know, corporations, rock stars, authors, WHOEVER. Following is good. Start following people. Just click the “follow” on the little list that Twitter has given you on this page.

At the top of their list of suggestions, there’s also a little box. You can type whatever you want into that box. If you type @bputtroff, you can follow me. If you type Lady Gaga, you can follow her.  Besides people, you can type things you’re interested in. If you type “writing,” then a bunch of ideas in that category will pop up. Follow some of them. You can also click, “teaching,” or “football” or “crafts” or “dogs” or WHATEVER YOU WANT.

Once you have followed at least five people/things, you can click NEXT.

One word of caution. There are spammers on Twitter, lots of them. I have a general rule. I don’t follow people with lots of numbers in their names, and I don’t follow people who feature body parts other than their faces in their profile picture. Unless you’re following a business showing their logo, it’s a good idea to stick to following people who show real pictures in their profiles that feature faces. “No face, No follow.” You can adjust this rule as you get to know Twitter and how it works for you.

More Following:

Once you’ve chosen your first five, Twitter will show you a list of categories, so you can pick even MORE people to follow, based on their categories. I suggest either scrolling down to the category Twitter, or typing it in the search box, and following a few accounts that tweet tips. I learned a lot from those when I was a newbie. Actually following @twitter, @safety, and @support are good ideas.

After THAT, Twitter will help you look through your contacts. You can choose to give Twitter access to your e-mail and Facebook accounts to follow people you know, or you can skip that part by typing something else in the search box.

Once you’ve followed 15 people, Twitter will let you loose on a page showing the tweets of the people/accounts you’ve already followed, and it will ask you to confirm your e-mail address.

Take the next week to just play around with it and check it out. Next Tuesday, I’ll be back with some tips on going further with Twitter. 🙂

Book Three update:

I have been hard at work writing Book Three in the Dusk Gate Chronicles, and this book even has a working title! Right now, it’s Thorns of Decision. The writing has been going very well this month, and the book is currently over 30k words long — about 120 pages.

Sample Sunday (#SampleSunday)

Happy Sunday, everyone. 🙂 Thanks for reading and following along. For those who don’t know, on Sundays, on Twitter, you can follow along with the hashtag #SampleSunday as authors post samples and excerpts of their work. It’s a great chance to find some new authors you like and find fun new things to read.

I’ve decided I’ll start participating in a new way, too, by posting #SampleSunday excerpts on my blog. 🙂

Here’s the first one …

An excerpt from the middle of Roots of Insight.

She stood there, still as a statue, consumed half by a paralyzing mixture of terror and anger, and the other half by another emotion entirely. Though she was rigid and unmoving, his arms still wound around her back, holding her tight. “We can’t think like that, Quinn. We don’t know what’s going on; let’s not make this worse by jumping to conclusions. Let’s assume, for now, that we’re okay. That she’s hidden us only for our safety, and we’ll find out what this is all about later.”

She swallowed, trying to get past the fear and aggravation. Her fingers trembled. It wasn’t working, trapped here in the dark and silence.

“It’s going to be okay,” he murmured against her hair.

She snapped. “Since when are you so Susie Sunshine about everything?”

He was absolutely still for just a second, before his entire body started shaking, in great, heaving motions coming from his chest. She was startled, confused, and then the silence was broken by his snorting, and the laughter overtook her, too.

Once she started laughing, she couldn’t stop, and it was clear that neither could he. They both stood there shaking, trying to keep quiet, trying to stop, but every time one of them calmed down enough to take a breath, the other would snicker, and it would start all over again. Tears were rolling down her cheeks, her stomach was aching, and she could hardly breathe, but the laughter kept coming.

Finally, finally, she managed to pull in a breath at the same time he did. They clutched each other’s arms tightly, trying to regain control. They hysterical giggles kept threatening to break through, but at last they were calm.

William softly cleared his throat. “Only one of us can freak out at a time.”

She nodded. “Agreed.”

And then, somehow, his lips were against hers. Softly, at first, his bottom lip grazed her top one. She knew, in the part of her brain that was still capable of rational thought, that she should have been surprised by this, but it wasn’t thought that drove her now. Her mouth responded on its own, as did her hands, reaching around him, clutching the back of his thin shirt.

He pulled her body closer with one hand, the other finding the back of her neck, under her hair, his fingers gently caressing, twining in her hair …

There was a loud thud directly overhead. They jerked apart, as if shocked by a jolt of electricity. After an eternity, his hand found hers again, squeezing it tight as they listened to the footsteps crossing the floor above.

 

Don’t forget, you can always check out more samples from the Dusk Gate Chronicles by clicking on the menu bar above. You can also check out the books on Amazon by clicking on the pictures of the book covers to your right. Happy Sunday! 🙂

Winners All Around

Wow! Has it been a busy week! Between launching Roots of Insight, running the scavenger hunt, and beginning the writing of Book Three in earnest, I’ve been busy. Oh yeah … I’ve also started watching a sweet new baby in my 50-hour-a-week day job. (Anyone want to do my laundry? 😉 )

The winner of a $10 Amazon gift card,  a gift pack of e-books by Kristy K. James, and your choice of an e-copy of either Seeds of Discovery or Roots of Insight, as determined by Random.org, is …. Megan from Hardcover Feedback! Thank you so much for participating!

Check this space later this week for another chance to win! 🙂

And now, for another winner … Me?

I’ve said it before, and at this rate, I’ll find the need to say it a million more times. The writing/blogging community is

A-MA-ZING. 

The people I have met, and the stories and articles I’ve read in the last six months since I really started to make a go of this thing absolutely blow me away. The support and the love I’ve felt in this community … I can’t even begin to describe. Those of you who really know me know that a year ago at this time, I was miserable. Writing, and being a part of this community has changed all of that. I am thankful every day.

A week ago, Kristy K. James passed on my first-ever blog award — The Versatile Blogger award. 🙂 And then, in the time it has taken me to get this post up (I’m busy! And for those of you who are dying to know — today I’ll pass 15k words of progress on Book Three, and the one beta reader who’s seen it so far says it’s her favorite yet) …

Anyway… in that lag time, I’ve actually been given this award not one, but two more times. By Lillie McFerrin, (@LillieMcFerrin) and Steven P. Watson (@AshViper), two amazingly talented writers who so very frequently keep me motivated and going over at #wordmongering.

There are some rules I must follow in accepting the Versatile Blogger award, so here goes. 😉

1. Thank the blogger(s) who gave it to you. Kristy, Lillie, and Steven – you guys rock my world every single day.

2. Share 7 random things about yourself. (Do I ever share anything about myself here that’s not random?

  • My daughter shares a middle name with my grandmother, who was the person in my family who inspired me to write. Someday, I’d love to share some of her poetry with the world.
  • My favorite cereal is Sweetened Wheat-Fulls by Mom’s Naturals (like Mini-Wheats, but without chemicals). They’re so popular in the house that we sometimes go through 3-4 boxes a week.
  • If I ever get rich from writing (this used to be my lottery dream, but since I don’t play the lottery and I do write, and getting rich from my writing carries about the same likelihood as winning the lottery — it’s a new dream), I will spend at least a month of every year in Australia, right in the middle of our winter and their summer. An entire month of writing on my laptop, and drinking beers by the barbecue with my dear friends, Kylee and Mellisa, while we listen to our girls chatter to each other in their beautiful different accents. It’s a good dream.
  • Even if I never get rich, I’m going to save up enough money to have an Australian summer like that at least once.
  • I have a thing about brushing my teeth. If I think about it, I have to do it, or it drives me crazy. In fact … I think I’ll go brush them right now. 🙂
  • I cannot handle having long fingernails. Manicures are a waste of time on me (but a gift certificate for a pedicure is a perfect gift for me — my birthday is April 23). I chop off fingernails without mercy, even when I can’t find my nail clipper and have to use the baby one. I’ll even do a hack job with the toenail clipper (I wash it first.)
  • I can name all 50 states in alphabetical order, from memory, without singing the song. And lots of other weird things, too.

3. Nominate other bloggers you love for the award and share it with them. (Okay, it’s supposed to be 15, but a lot of the bloggers I love have already passed around this award, and I’m still new at this!) But here are some of my favorites! 🙂

Thank you so much everyone. Hope it’s a wonderful week for you all. My goal this week is ambitious — I want to break 25k words on Book Three. It’s working title is Sprouts of Decision. 🙂 (All title suggestions welcome at this point!)

Scavenger Hunt, revisited

Okay, so it’s true, I’m a slacker and I’m easily distracted.

So on Monday, when only 1 person participated in the scavenger hunt (congratulations Jenni! I’ll be sending your prizes soon!), and then Tuesday came and my day slipped away from me, I just didn’t post anything new. Yesterday, I meant to, but between the day job, and the fact that I got really distracted by writing (to the tune of 3,200 new words on the rough draft for Thorns!), I still didn’t. 🙂

So, now it’s Thursday, and I have decided that the scavenger hunt will continue, with some new (and maybe improved? who knows?) modifications. 🙂

I will now post new questions for the hunt every 3 days. I realize now that posting on a Monday and giving folks only one day to get their answers in was probably not the wisest choice in the first place, anyway, aside from the fact that I can’t keep up with it.

(Sorry! I am a single mom running a 50-hour a week business, and marketing two books and trying to write a third. Things give sometimes. Any home-schooled teenagers out there looking for an internship in blog writing/book marketing? Contact me!)

So, the prize for this hunt is …

A gift pack of e-books by up-and-coming author Kristy K. James

A $10 e-gift cart to Amazon.com

A digital copy of either Seeds of Discovery OR Roots of Insight, your choice.

The Rules:

  • You must e-mail the answers to the questions below to breeanap @ gmail . com (remove the spaces!)
  • All participants with the correct answers will be entered into a random drawing for the prize.
  • You can earn additional entries into the prize drawing by pressing the buttons below to share this post on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+ (if you’ve answered the questions … if you haven’t answered the questions, you get virtual hugs for pressing those!)

The Questions (get hunting!)

In the “Works in Progress” section of writer Jane Bussey’s blog, she mentions the name of a town. What is the name of the town? (Hint: check the widget at the top of her main page).  A Writer Muses blog.

Using the character interview at Epic Robot Danni, how old was William the very first time he went through the gate?

What actor has author Kristy K. James had a crush on for years?  Answer in “A Secret Crush (well…it was until now!)” posted on Nov. 21st.

Launch Day Celebration!

It’s January 9th, which means Roots of Insight officially releases for Kindle today! 🙂 (If you have a different kind of e-reader, make sure to read my previous post.)

You can check out Roots of Insight at Amazon by clicking here.

If you haven’t yet read Seeds of Discovery, it is free at Amazon today only!

To celebrate, I am going to be hosting a week-long scavenger hunt with lots of great prizes. Each day, there will be more questions in the hunt, and each day there will be new prizes.

Today’s prize is a $5 e-gift card to Amazon and a surprise e-book gift pack! 🙂

To enter, find the answers to the following questions by clicking on the links. Then e-mail (don’t comment!!) the answers to breeanap@gmail.com.

Everyone who answers the questions correctly will be put into a drawing for today’s prize. You can enter every day for the new prizes.  On Friday, there will be a grand prize drawing for participants who have answered EVERY question in the hunt. 🙂

Bonus entries into the drawing will be awarded for those who comment on this post and share it with others (but only if you e-mail the questions, too — they’re bonus entries!) 🙂

Here are today’s questions! (Click on the blog name to visit!)

  • From Kristy K. James’ blog:   Who are my three favorite bad boys-in order of favorites?  Answer in “It’s a Bad Boy Thing,” published on Dec. 5th.
  • From Megaword Journey: Who is the main character of the Snapshots storyline?

Find the answers to these two questions, and e-mail them to breeanap@gmail.com with “Scavenger Hunt” in the subject line for your chance to win! 🙂 Don’t forget to comment below and share for bonus entries.

To My Nook and Other E-Pub friends…

For a number of reasons, at this time I am releasing Roots of Insight only on Kindle at this time (paperback will be released in a couple of weeks). Seeds of Discovery is also currently only available in Kindle format.

You do not need to have a Kindle in order to read a Kindle-format book. You can also read it on a FREE Kindle App on your smartphone,  iPad/iPod or on your Mac or PC with either a Kindle App or the Cloud Reader.

The Dusk Gate Chronicles books are also DRM-free, which means you can choose to convert  them to a different file format (there are free software programs that will do this) and load them onto any kind of e-reader using the USB cord.

Loading the book using a USB cord is known as side-loading, and is extremely easy. Once your e-reader is plugged into your computer with the USB cord, it will show up as a drive or storage device. You need only to drag and drop the book file into the right file on your e-reader, and it will show up in your library with all of your other books.

Finally, if you don’t want to convert it, or can’t figure out how, you can also contact me, by e-mailing me at

breeanap at gmail dot com

If you forward me a copy of your e-mail receipt from Amazon showing your purchase of Roots of Insight, I will be more than happy to e-mail you back with an .epub version of the book that can be loaded on your Nook, Sony Reader, Kobo, or other .epub-based reader using the USB cord (again, you can do this yourself, but this way, you won’t have to figure out how to convert it.)

At the current time, Seeds of Discovery is under an exclusive distribution agreement with Amazon, so I cannot send you the .epub file, but you can convert it yourself.

If you need any other help or assistance, please feel free to comment here or to e-mail me.

I appreciate the support of ALL of my readers, regardless of what type of device you own, and I will do my best to keep my books accessible to all.

Root Beard

My Little Goose has always had near-perfect grammar and articulation (doubly cursed with a mom who is both a teacher and a writer, I suppose). I’m not complaining, of course, but it did mean that there weren’t a whole lot of cute little toddler-isms in her speech. So, I just have to say … I love that she says “root beard.”

Five More Days! :)

To celebrate today, I invite you to pop over to Better Read than Dead, where Kristin has posted an awesome review of Seeds, and you can join the giveaway, too!

If, by chance, you already have a copy of Seeds of Discovery, and that giveaway wouldn’t do you any good… leave a comment on Kristin’s review mentioning that fact, and I will put your name in a hat to win an ARC of Roots of Insight! 🙂

Also, don’t forget to enter the drawing for a $10 Amazon gift card by clicking HERE.

 

I’m still looking for a few good bloggers to help me out with the scavenger hunt that begins on Monday — and a few authors who might be interested in donating e-copies of their fantastic books as prizes.

So far, we have some great hunts lined up! You can join the party, too!