What Not To Do Wednesday on Writer Socializing

I totally get it, grasshopper. You’re a writer because you don’t particularly like to socialize.
You like to hunker down with your laptop and beverage of choice and write till the sun rises over the horizon and your fingers cramp and your eyelids feel like sandpaper against your eyeballs and drool drips from the corner of your mouth.
Yeah, I get it. But eventually, you need to come up for air, step out of that comfort zone, and socialize. And yes, it’s not easy, ’cause basically you’re kind of shy and really, can’t you just socialize on the Internets?
Well, grasshopper, that’s a beginning. But if you have the opportunity to meet with other writers, at a conference, or a workshop, a book signing event, or a Zaxby’s on the way to Florida, make a plan and go! Because you do not want to miss the warmth, the joy, the fun, of talking, sharing, and laughing with writers who really are more than writers. They’re friends. And believe it or not, just like you.

And P.S. When one of the writers (okay, me) tells everybody to make a crazy face, you really should make a crazy face. Or the crazy-faced writer (okay, me) looks like an idiot.

(And P.P.S. Thanks to Lisa, Debra, Linda, and Cathy-on-a-Stick for a wonderful afternoon!)

What Not To Do Wednesday on Livening up a Dead Website

I don’t have much time here, but it being Wednesday, I thought I’d share a quick What-Not-To-Do on links and websites and such. To wit, I’m on the agent quest right now and it occurred to me that an agent might take a peek at my online presence. And what will he or she see?

Ooooh, grasshopper. That’s a scary thought. Because I’ve recently scanned a few articles on what a great website for a writer/author should be and I’m a wee bit concerned.

I’m concerned that I might have a few horror-type links out there. Take the vampire link, for instance. That’s the link that was doing its thing, hanging out peacefully, buried as it were, in the website. But suddenly, when I click on it…it’s not there! Maybe it’ll come back, maybe it won’t. But I can’t take that chance. So I’ll dump that link.

Then there’s the mummy link. That’s the one that’s so old and tattered, the one I’ve dragged around from one website update to the next. Perhaps it’s time to put that dated link out of its misery.

Of course, there’s also the zombie link. It may not be on your website, but it’s out there, following you around FOREVER. No matter what else you write, this link always seems to pop up around your name. WHY WON’T YOU DIE, YOU STINKING LINK???

Well. There’s not much I can do about the zombie link. But I really need to send a few queries out today, so don’t do what I did, grasshopper, and wait till five minutes before you hit the send button. Stay on top of those horrible links and keep your website and online presence alive and well.

(As for the zombie links, it’s every woman for herself.)

What Not To Do Wednesday on Over-Doing Social Doings (or Pardon Me, There’s A Media Monkey on Your Back)

I watched one of those packaged specials on the news last night about people spending too much time on Facebook. Something like “Facebook Addiction–Where Will it Lead?” The piece had a rather ominous tone, I must say.

I suppose there are folks out there who can’t do without their Facebook fix. Or Twitter tips, or listening in on LinkedIn, or connecting with any of a dozen other social media messaging. Whereas I can walk away anytime I want.

Sort of.
Here’s the thing, grasshopper. From a business standpoint, social media has value. I think Twitter might be better for massive marketing, but I like Facebook for blogging connections. And I like Facebook for personal connections, too. So I want to stay social media savvy. But when I jump into Facebook or Twitter, or even blog surfing, I can easily use up hours.
HOURS. And though I come across tons of informative posts (because seriously, there are a ton of brilliant folks out there, sharing their expertise), I may get a teensy bit carried away, reading one post, zipping to another…then another…then another.
Until I look up and dang. It’s lunchtime and I haven’t written a single word (unless you count scathingly brilliant comments here and there. Which I’m counting. So there.).
But pithy comments do not a manuscript, essay, or short story make. And so I’m forced to face the ugly truth: I may…okay, okay, I have a social media problem. I usually deal with it by going cold turkey for a week or so. And then I ease back in, using moderation.
So don’t over-do the social doings, grasshopper, at the expense of your writing. Write FIRST. Or if you need a little warm-up, set a limit for how much time you’ll spend, media socializing. Then stick to it.
Because when you think about it, it’s your brilliant writing that you’re trying to promote and sell. Pour hours into that, grasshopper, and then use social media to tell the world.

(We shall discuss the proper way to exploit one’s self, using humility, dignified grace, and monkey-mad media marketing skills at a later date.)

What Not to Do Wednesday on Having Myself to Blame

So, last week, I received an acceptance (wheee!) and a rejection (boo!hiss!). But if I’m being perfectly honest, I wasn’t surprised by that boo!hiss! rejection. I have only myself to blame. It was a boo!hiss! story.

Now, don’t try to make me feel better, grasshopper. It was not a good story. Oh, it was written well. It had a nice flow, good pacing, a swell plot, crackling dialogue. But it was missing something…

I sent it anyway, even though I had this mushy feeling of wrongness about the story. Until finally, after working on another manuscript, and receiving that acceptance, I had one of those epiphany moments. (Thank goodness, right?)

The boo!hiss! story didn’t have me in it. I don’t mean me, literally. I mean the connection between something that I felt to what a character is feeling. So the story, though well-executed, lay there flat and limp and blah.

Don’t write without getting to the heart of the matter, grasshopper. You may be penning a story about a little girl flying on a pig to a country known as Styheaven where all the inhabitants are flying pigs who speak only pig latin and stuff humans into sausage casings. Obviously, you haven’t had that experience. But you have probably, at some time in your life, been the “fish out of water” who was scared to death. Tap into your feelings to give your story life. It’s that whole Dr. Frankenstein thing, to use a literary allusion.

I always tell people that if they’ve ever met me, they’ll probably show up in a story, cleverly disguised, of course. But the truth is, I’m in every single story I write. At least, the stories that get published (whee!).

What Not To Do Wednesday on Being Organized (Or Not)

So. I needed ONE little thing. A simple piece of paper.

Well, not just any old piece of paper. I was looking for a piece of paper from my radio days. The copy from a commercial, if you must know. And I looked EVERYWHERE.

And when I say EVERYWHERE, I mean I emptied the entire love chest of my life. There is a ton of stuff in that love chest, I can tell you that, grasshopper. But do you know what’s NOT in the love chest? The radio commercial copy.

Eventually, I stuffed all the er, stuff back in the chest (P.S. I still can’t get it to close). I moved on. To the filing cabinet, to be exact, where I was looking for something totally different. I suppose I don’t need to tell you what I found in a completely random, unmarked folder.

Don’t forget to mark your folders, grasshopper. And here’s a link to 30 very funny books, according to Gina Barreca, Ph.D., who wrote a handful of pretty funny books herself. Honestly, we deserve a couple laughs, right?

‘Cause if you can’t laugh at the crazy stuff in life (and filing cabinets), then you might as well throw in the (paper) towel.