#Search Engine Optimisation for #Indie Authors: How Far Should You Go?

There are many bloggers out there who still don’t know what SEO is. That is and isn’t a good thing. SEO is Search Engine Optimisation and for best practice, it is supposed to have a very large say in how you write book titles, web pages and blog posts. (There is an infographic explaining it at the base of this page.) A great idea? Yes, if kept in balance. There is one major worry with getting too carried away with it: you stop writing as yourself and allow yourself to be told what to do by a robot. Think about it…

Digital computations determine how easy it is for us to have our books found on Amazon, our Page posts read on Facebook, our web site or blog found on Google… They are awfully frustrating and if you want to claw your way to the top of the pile, you have to work – hard! You must sprinkle your keywords through your post, use meta tags on web pages, sprinkle matching keywords through your web pages, tweet, status update, Like, Plus 1, retweet, share and comment until your fingers fall off and your brain goes numb.

I did this asiduously throughout 2013 and got to the end of September and simply burnt out! I wasn’t tired of blogging, writing and people. It was those robotic demands that did me in. So I spent far less time on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus. After reading a massive, endless stream of SEO and social media how-to posts, I came to the conclusion that as writers, we are possibly far better off writing in the attic, away from the computer and all this “wonderfully good advice.” Any available time I had in my week, was spent assuaging the gods of rank. So I quit! I’ve noticed that since I began to pull back in September, my visit stats and book sales didn’t drop much. They are growing.

1238999_450639671718505_835016741_nSo here is how I am now surviving online. I hope it inspires you and if you have further suggestions, I’d love to hear them!

  1. I will automate as many blog posts and shares as I can, so I can take time to see the sunshine and not be spending hours manually on social media. “I’m sorry Hal, I’m afraid I can’t do that.”
  2. I will not read any more SEO and social media how-to posts or books: instead I will be myself and stay tapped into my innate creativity identity.
  3. I will not get trapped in worrying about my statistics. If I get 2 Likes on a post and someone was inspired: I aced it! That is my main goal: encourage, equip, empower. Not rack up fat numbers.
  4. I will write the blog posts which are close to my heart, regardless of what posts pull in the greatest number of readers.
  5. I will market my books with titles that make sense to the content of the book and are not used elsewhere. I will not calculate words on what sells.

In business, if something does not pull in sales, you stop doing it. Yet online, many of us tend to jump feet first into the latest and greatest next thing, perhaps in the hope it will propel us to stardom? That doesn’t work. It simply chews away more of our time and sanity.

It is all about sanity. If I have to mutiny against binary calculations, the numbers game and everyone’s marvellous advice, then I will. Join me… your creative soul is worth more than this.


If you want to know more about SEO, check this infographic from nerdyface.com

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REBLOGS WELCOMED

IMG_0204Note from Cate: this post was published last year under a different title, but there was a technical glitch and it never got proper promotion. As it received great comments from those who did read it, I have updated, improved and published it again.

This article / blog post is Copyright Cate Russell-Cole 2013 and adapted in 2014. All rights are reserved Internationally. You may not reproduce it in any form, in part of whole, without Cate’s prior written permission. That includes usage in forms such as print, audio and digital imaging including pdf, jpg, png etc. A fee may be requested for re-using her work if it is for a commercial venture. Link sharing and Pinterest pins are most welcome as long as Cate is the attributed Author.

TRUTH BOMB: Sometimes (okay, lots of times) I Want To Quit

Cate Russell-Cole:

We have all been there… thanks Myndi for giving us reasons NOT to quit.

(Yes, I know I am on holidays, but this was too good not to log in and share!)

Originally posted on Myndi Shafer:

quitterLately I’ve been asking myself this question:

What would happen if I were to quit writing?

I think every writer gets to this point eventually (at least that’s what I’m telling myself). The new shiny has worn off. The over-the-moon-I’m-so-in-love-with-what-I’m-doing feeling goes away. Inspiration dries up to nothing more than a brittle bag of bones that if you shake together real hard might amount to a paragraph or two. And we’re not talking Hemingwayesqe brilliance that makes up for the scant word-count. We’re talking shaky drivel that makes I CAN HAZ CHEEZBURGR look like soul-stealing genius.  

And so I ask myself, what would happen if I were to quit?

Life would immediately become simpler. I wouldn’t have to structure my days so intensely. Family time wouldn’t feel so urgent because writing wouldn’t be putting any demands on our schedule. I could cook and clean and play when I want…

View original 523 more words

#Romance University for Writers: A Gold Class #Writing Site

Printhttp://romanceuniversity.org

Purpose: Dedicated to helping writers establish and advance their careers, introducing readers to a variety of authors, and delving into the ever-inscrutable male mind.

Monday: Crafting Your Career
Most writers begin writing because they love the process–using just the right word, crafting the perfect sentence, giving life to imaginary people. However satisfying the writing process, many writers begin to want more. The want people to read about and love those imaginary folks. Okay–they want people to pay to read about those imaginary folks. Join us each Monday at RU where we’ll discuss the business of writing or career topic. Visiting Professors (guest bloggers) often stop by the school to offer advice.

Wednesday: Anatomy of the Mind
This is the day we explore every facet of writing, reading, and men.

Friday: Chaos Theory of Writing
On Fridays, RU Faculty along with industry professionals and established authors will focus on the elements of manuscript writing. Tips to help you hone your craft and write a damn fine book. After all, it will be your writing that will catch (and retain) the interest of a lucky agent or editor.We’ll tap into our own experiences, share what’s working and what isn’t as we chase our dreams of becoming published authors. We’ll also discuss advice from our favorite writing reference books and websites. So join us each Friday to experience the chaos of writing.”

Gold class sites

How NOT to look like a total loser on #Twitter: Social Media Professionalism

2014-02-24_08-58-36There are services out there which are incredibly useful to have, particularly if you like proper stats on where you’re at. However, openly advertising that you use these services can make you look like a woeful failure if you don’t have a massive following. For example:

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That was one of the more cheery ones I saw this morning. 224 people walking away is a lot! I would be worrying if these were my stats.

I see numerous notices like this go through my stream every day. They are auto-generated. All services spit out these ads. If I use one, I go into Twitter fast and delete them. Plus, if I pay to subscribe to a service, I will remove all automatic options to have these services air my private laundry at their will.

I would never advocate not using these sites to clean up your following. They also removed dormant accounts and have many benefits. They are too good to ignore. Benefits include:

  • Finding inactive users and your unfollowers.
  • Finding relevant users to follow.
  • Keeping track of how your social media updates affect your follower/unfollower stats.
  • Checking the relationship between any accounts and doing a whole lot more (for a price on services this good).

I would recommend you never auto-follow anyone using them though: not only do automatic DMs mean I know you are insincere and have never seen me; you also follow every spammer out there, thinking you’ve got great stats when you’ve only got snake oil merchants and porn…

So be aware of who advertises what in your Twitter stream and how it makes you look. You won’t be sorry you did.

P.S. May I present to you the other side of the argument? Note that when you have many followers, this isn’t an issue but if you have a small number, the above still applies.

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This blog post by Cate Russell-Cole is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. You are free to share and adapt it.

realisticfiction

Do You Write by Heart or Head? Technique Overload

Complexities that put me off my game.

Complexities that put me off my game.

When does studying the craft of writing stop you or inhibit your work? That is a question which some of us need to ask. Writing has become more than a plotter or pantser issue, it can come down to science vs your instincts as a bard.

I like to know I am doing things the right way. However, in branching back out into fiction, I am finding the more I read about what to include, the more nervous I am becoming with my writing. I look at images on Pinterest, like the one on the right, feeling bemused, hemmed in, inadequate and I am stunned into inaction by a fear of failure. What if the “right” way is not my way? Jane Austen wrote without all this!

Since I originally studied writing, main characters have become protagonists and there are also antagonists, contagonists, deuteragonists… what? Deuteragonists are the main secondary characters. Why can’t we just say that! How many aspiring authors are being scared away? I often get the feeling you I am being told to be perfect and write a specific way, rather than being allowed to just write down that story I need to tell.

There are things I need at the beginning: plot arcs, descriptions, body language, emotional reactions which are realistic, archetypes as a guideline and character profiles (such as the Enneagram); however, I need to begin to ignore many technical articles or stash them for later in the writing process.

Things that freak me out when I am writing a new story for the first time:

  • Dos and Don’ts for the Last 10,000 words of your story.
  • What you should write and when : hook, plot point, response, mid point, attack, plot point, climax, resolution… complete nervous breakdown?
  • Structuring Your Story’s Scenes, Pt. 5 (What if I don’t fit neatly into all that? Did I fail?)
  • 200,000,000 ways to say that, went, and or whatever, which makes me feel like I need to watch every word as it comes out.
  • Revealing secrets, pivotal information etc. for maximum impact on a very detailed, precise manner. (What if I don’t fit neatly into all that? I really stink at this, don’t I!)
  • The First Five Pages. A writer’s guide to staying out of the rejection pile. (That has to come with editing, you can’t get that right, straight off the bat!)
  • The most annoying type of story conflict / the most hated antagonist readers will throw the book down after reading etc.

You get the picture.

My answer: learn slowly as you go; be open to new ideas but don’t let them mash you into a one-size-fits-all, formatted cliché like a Hollywood blockbuster movie… You need to get that story down before you can start working on perfecting it.


This blog post by Cate Russell-Cole is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. You are free to share and adapt it.

#Blogging and Realistic Goals: Don’t Be Crushed by the Pressure

ROW80LogocopyIn 2012 I discovered A Round of Words in 80 Days (ROW80). One thing we all have in common with our writing is life sure does get in the way! It’s unavoidable and you just have to go with it. Even taking a day off to have fun can be necessary in our creative lives. The trick is, to do it without the guilt… and in people’s update posts, I frequently read an awful lot of guilt!

ROW80 shares the same blogging philosophy I have. “We are all different and we all have different demands on our time. Why should we all have the same goal? The simple answer is that we shouldn’t. If you want to be a writer, then you have to be able to roll with the punches and adapt to your changing circumstances. If that means changing your goals when your life blows up, so be it. ROW80 is the challenge that champions the marriage of writing and real life.” (The next round starts in early April.)

I like the emphasis on the goals being achievable. That is the secret ingredient to any goal. There must be flexibility and a sense of reality. However, despite how Kait Nolan has emphasized the easy-going nature of the challenge, I keep seeing writers listing masses of goals: far more than 80 days worth! NaNoWriMo is another example that concerns me in as far as mental and creative health are concerned. The word count allows for no days off for an entire month and a very high output. It’s too short and writers stress, particularly when they hit plot problems and again, real life gets in the way. Why we are so insistent on deliberately placing ourselves under high-achievement related stress?

sunriseThe happiest bloggers seem to be the ones who have three goals at the most. These goals aren’t back-breaking and they have a balanced attitude which accepts that some days they may fail; some days they may come close; some days they will achieve above and beyond and that is all good. The strategy which brings a cheer from me, is seeing writers list the rewards they will give themselves on achieving their goals. A small treat, some ‘me’ time, a fun activity which refreshes and pulls them away from their desk. It’s a great idea. I love it!

Reaching your goals and dreams by making small changes, seems to work the best for most people. Trying to revolutionize our entire lives in one effort leaves us tired and discouraged. Small changes are the ones that stick. They are less likely to fizzle into failures and regrets.

Go easy and be kind to yourself!

Work, family, finances, holidays, sickness and the occasional crisis will always be there to keep you away from putting words on paper. Your success as a writer depends as much on how you deal with that, as it does on how much output you have. As a writer there is a massive laundry list of demands you are supposed to meet to succeed, plus I know how easy it is to get enthusiastically carried away with everything you want to achieve. However, please do take the time to step back, reassess your direction and see if you need to cut back on your goals to maximize your creative energy. It is not a sign of failure to do that, it’s a sign of wisdom.


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All rights are reserved Internationally. You may not reproduce it in any form, in part of whole, without Cate’s prior written permission. That includes usage in forms such as print, audio and digital imaging including pdf, jpg, png etc. A fee may be requested for re-using her work if it is for a commercial venture. 

Link sharing and Pinterest pins are most welcome as long as Cate is the attributed Author.

The sunrise is a purchased istockphoto.com image licensed to me. You are not legally able to re-use it in any manner, neither may you adapt it without risking litigation from the source.

Controlling How Much of YOU Appears in Your Fiction

SlidingthroughyourfingersAs you write, you write out of your own experiences, no matter what the genre. It is a cliché but parts of you are always going to bleed through your keyboard to the reader. Your life is teaching you plot, characterization, behaviour traits and all the essentials needed to build a fully-formed, believable work of fiction… and that is good. However, you may not want your novel to be a kiss and tell where your subconscious has dobbed you in, through character personality traits, conflicts and experiences.

Consciousness is the key to control. If you have journaled about your feelings and experiences in life, you will discover themes and events which will enable you to identify what is too much you. Plus you’re building a resource you can use to craft a better story. It could be likened to a mini self-service and/or character psychology course. It’s a lot cheaper than taking your novel to a therapist!

The act of physically writing out something which has happened helps to clarify events, giving you a new perspective on how and why things happened as they did. It’s a great plot formation tool that will both inspire your fiction… and keep you off the page! You are creating your own privacy control options, enabling you to effectively edit out the parts that are too close to the way you think or act.

However, don’t become paranoid about self-revelation:

“Let some of you come through. You’re obviously not writing a memoir here, but this book is still partly about you: the world you see, the way you think, the experiences you have with people. And trust me, readers are interested in who you are. So don’t be afraid to let bits and pieces of your personality and even life details seep into the text. It will breathe a lot of life into the book.” David Shenk

May I challenge you to get a journal and start to write about your life, your feelings and how you see the world. Look at how much may have slid through into your fictional work… and what comes out that you didn’t expect. It is a journey that will reward you in many ways.

For helpful information on journalling, go to Journal Chat with Dawn Herring, or Write for Life with Nathan Ohren.


REBLOGS WELCOMED

This article / blog post is Copyright Cate Russell-Cole 2014. All rights are reserved Internationally. You may not reproduce it in any form, in part of whole, without Cate’s prior written permission. That includes usage in forms such as print, audio and digital imaging including pdf, jpg, png etc. A fee may be requested for re-using her work if it is for a commercial venture. 

Link sharing and Pinterest pins are most welcome as long as Cate is the attributed Author.

What is Nagging for Book Sales, What is Marketing? The Difference…

qqffb_1285058022796Trying to get the balance right in promoting blog posts and book sales gives me nightmares. I have looked at what Twitter recommends and what the social media marketing people recommend and there is a notable discrepancy. It seems Twitter wants to keep spam and server overload to a minimum, whereas the marketers understand the need to stand out from the crowd. Here is the balanced middle ground:

1. Only Tweet 7-20 times a day: no more or fingers will itch over that Unfollow button. All Twitter makes an interesting point about over-tweeting. Which proves that tweet nagging will knock you out of the game:

TrackSocial took a look at the tweets from top brands to determine whether brands who tweeted more saw more retweets. And the findings are interesting… we begin to see a “sweet spot…” When they tweet 4 to 5 times per day, brands see over 300% more retweets per tweet than when they tweet just once. But the percentage of retweets per tweet drops when brands tweet more than 5 times per day…”

2. Mix your content! I unfollow anyone who tweets the same promotion multiple times a day, every day of the week! Post relevant videos, images, interact with people, promote your blog posts with quick content quotes in them etc. Have a series of different tweets for different books that you rotate over weeks.

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3. There are many different opinions on what time of day is the best time for Twitter. It depends on your time zone, type of followers… you will slowly get to know what works for you. If like me, you work Internationally, there is no easy answer.

4. Talk to people, be genuine and be a real face online: not just a hard core seller. Twitter recommends you cover behind the scenes information too, not just sales and marketing. Tell people a little about how you work, what you like etc. Don’t err on the side of putting your personal life out there too much, but be human, not just “buy my stuff!”

6. Be professional. If you are selling your work, Twitter is not a good place to list your writing battles and insecurities. You can appear completely incompetent!

7. Follow about 10 new people a day to build your presence without spamming. Never or rarely mass unfollow people who don’t follow you. That is identified by Twitter’s watchdogs as spam activity. New research also shows that paying for followers achieves nothing: as do using gimmicks which guarantee follow backs. They just add you to their numbers, they don’t “see you.”

social-media-sins

Infographic Source:

http://info.reallyb2b.com/blog-hs/bid/332063/The-Seven-Deadly-Sins-of-Social-Media-INFOGRAPHIC


This blog post by Cate Russell-Cole is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. You are free to share and adapt it.

When You Feel Like Originality Has Passed You By…

Meridan PlainsIt was during the early 1990′s that I started to write “The Chronicles of Mirchar.” This was before the Internet, it had never been published and I felt my place and character names were pretty safe. I’d never seen them anywhere.

Then around 2003 or so, my husband and I were on holidays in a coastal area I had never been to. This area was fairly new and the suburb name: Meridan Plains. They had “stolen” my continent name! Even though my series was long since abandoned at the time… and had never seen the light of day outside my desk… I still felt the sting of losing my exclusive name. As I had (stupidly) destroyed my original manuscripts, I didn’t even have the satisfaction of storming into their local Council office to demand answers. “Where did you get this from, it was mine!” You know how it is when you get attached to your work. You take the oddest things rather personally…

I went online, checked all my old character names, had a little cry at my lack of originality and vowed to never, ever repeated the mistake. I would research all my names in case I had subconsciously “acquired” someone else’s idea. Then I was working on a name for a key character earlier this year and liked the name “Mirabelle.” I hadn’t read anything where it was used by my favourite authors and it looked safe to me. I did no further checking. It was just an old fashioned girl’s name. A few weeks later, I opened the cupboard. Months earlier we had changed light bulb types and voila!

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[Epic facepalm!] I named a favourite character after a light bulb. Please hold back on the “she must be a bright spark,” jokes! So much for learning that lesson. Though there is one thing I did learn from that: no matter what the genre, you don’t have to be perfect all the time… have fun and do what you want anyway. As one idea leads to another, then yet another, you never know what may come from it.

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If you ever need it, this is how you name characters, places and construct languages in fantasy stories.
keepcalmandloveminions

Character images property of Universal Studios.

1. Base them on known sounds and words so they strike a familiar chord with readers and don’t sound fake. Case in point, in the movie Despicable Me 2, the Minions call an apple “papple” and their banana language comes from a mix of many languages including Spanish, French, English etc. They will say “belo” instead of “hello.” You get the picture, it’s just close enough to sound right to our ears.

2. Building a fantasy language is a mammoth task! Try and stick to key phrases such as patriotic slogans, greetings and commonly used words, unless you head goes spinning off or you feel a strong need to sue someone, when you find out they used YOUR word!

3. Link your language into cultural elements: eg. In the Game of Thrones, in the Dothraki culture the word graddakh means “one who walks.” This is a status inference. You are worthy or unworthy as you are able to ride, or are too weak or forbidden to ride. It reflects your societal value. Using words like that gives them a great deal of power.

4. Document your language very well so you don’t contradict yourself, can build a glossary on your web site or into your books, and hey, if you get to the level of Sir Terry Pratchett, you can make a mint out of it. Or have people playing your equivalent of Klingon Boggle (video below for the Big Bang Theory fans).

5. Learn to be at peace with the fact that you will probably never get a totally original name or word and that’s OK. If it is recognisable as a possible native tongue, you aced it!

Creative Commons License

This work, created and Copyright Cate Russell-Cole 2014 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Lessons Learnt by a Slightly Lost, Irish, Novel Researcher

20141703Last week on Triberr I read another writer’s post about seven crazy things she’d done in the name of novel research. Some were so risky, I am amazed she didn’t get arrested! It made me feel somewhat better about myself. As today is St Patrick’s Day, it’s a good time to share the lessons I am learning in my own novel research.

Quick Background: I am resurrecting and updating my old “Chronicles of Mirchar” series with a Celtic identity. It is set within a solar system of seven related planets; features warriors who are several thousand years old who still work with daggers, swords and warhorses… and the whole process of putting it together between migraines has been an epic learning curve.

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The Lessons:

1. If you want to write descriptions well and understand a little more about your character’s discomforts, challenges and joys, it helps to actually own or be familiar with objects they use. For example, horse tack, daggers, swords, saddles: all the cool stuff! I went and bought a bitless bridal that hangs over my desk. Being able to handle the leather, see how non-slip reigns are constructed (and how much they would hurt your hands, gloves or not, after a few hours) is invaluable. I can’t ride for medical reasons, I had to find out somehow. Don’t let “you can’t,” get in the way!

2. If you are dealing with tricky subjects like weapons, which are frowned on in this part of the world unless you own a farm, check with Customs import rules, before you get up the sales hopes of an awesome bladesmith and fall in love with the dagger you have to have. (Sorry Jeff, I can’t get anything remotely that good here.) They don’t like untreated leather products and all kinds of things, so if using International mail, check before you get your heart broken.

3. When you see a HUGE sign that says, “Pattons Big Gun” and it is in a semi-rural area… before you drive the 14 miles back to visit the gun shop, (hoping they will have a dagger or some blade advice,) C.H.E.C.K. Google to find out what that business really does.

Here is what I saw:

Underwooda

If I had looked at the full signage and not the gun, I would have discovered it was a butcher. Plus… the one I went to had just gone out of business and their shop was being refitted for someone else. Epic facepalm! We couldn’t even buy dinner for our trouble.

Underwood

4. Horses drool. Can someone please keep reminding me of that one? I will need that reminder when I go to the local Riding School to bombard them with equine behaviour questions. Knowing my luck, I am expecting a horse to eat my question list. ;-) Just after I’ve written down the answers too…

5. Don’t be afraid of criticism, stupid questions, or of taking pride in your work. Yes, I own a mane comb, hoof pick and bridle (they help me remember how big those animals are. I am a city dweller, I need help with proportions.) They sit in a public spot in my house where people are in and out… and we are just waiting for someone to ask if the bridle hanging off the curtain rail is actually something that would feature in a More Cowbell post. (Love your work Jenny!) No, it’s not… but it does remind me of some of the awful back braces I had to wear as a kid.

So want one!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So want one!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have found most people I have talked to (non-writers) think it’s great I am writing, doing something new despite my health and my horse-loving friends are looking at me with new light in their eyes. I have learnt to talk to my husband in a calm, confident voice, when visiting the local Saddlery. “That hoof pick is for Charlotte.” (Actually, it is, as I need to learn about what she needs. Charlotte is a 16 hands, Thoroughbred, bay coloured, brood mare; bred to Turbot, latest foal is Danae; no bit required due to horse-rider spiritual connection – I have totally got this!) I can now do things like that without feeling like an idiot and when asked by saddlery staff why no bit, I have an answer.

I have lifted saddles to test the strain they put on riders backs when saddling a horse; showed disgust at the time-saving el cheapo options for horses (no class and you don’t bond with your animal as much) and on staff request, could demonstrate a clear understanding of why I have to use saddle soap on my bridle. All in public, which normally I would cringe at… How: I have read, read, read and read. And thank God for Youtube how-to channels and a very patient husband, who still thinks I am a bit weird in public. I know she is not real… but how do you define real when you are working with characters and the horses will function as secondary characters.

If you work hard, you can hold your head up, have a great deal of fun (minus anything involving weapons) and learn things you never knew.

Now all I want is a miniature donkey as a pet. Why not? It’s research! (And a Clydesdale… ok, can I have a Scottish Claymore sword too? Plus a Celtic dagger, a complete horse grooming brush set, a Dublin Riding top, funky cowgirl boots…)

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This article / blog post is Copyright Cate Russell-Cole 2014. All rights are reserved Internationally. You may not reproduce it in any form, in part of whole, without Cate’s prior written permission. That includes usage in forms such as print, audio and digital imaging including pdf, jpg, png etc. A fee may be requested for re-using her work if it is for a commercial venture. 

Link sharing and Pinterest pins are most welcome as long as Cate is the attributed Author.

Reblogs are welcome as long as the post is attributed to me and no text is changed.

Think Outside Your Niche: Awesome Plot and Character Ideas

2013-12-02_15-04-37In addition to gaining more markets and outlets for our writing, exploring the sites of other genres can also turn up gold dust. Last year Damian Trasler wrote me an excellent post on the success he has had with switching to screenwriting. It inspired me to think outside of the confines I have placed myself in as a writer. There is more out there I can do, I simply need an open mind. 

When I was planning my blog posts for this year, I came across “The Script Lab” web site, and thanks to Damian, I stopped and had a good look around. It is exceptionally useful to all kinds of writers. I am encouraging you to go plunder it for your own needs.

hairymnstr_Coffee_Mug_1Some of their content includes:

  • Character and scene questionnaires to help you build backstory, develop personality traits etc.
  • Naming characters effectively to convey their role or personality.
  • Key moments and plot points in story structure (there are quite a few of these and they are great.)
  • Comparing movie plot breakdowns, which every writer can use.
  • Don’t miss their articles on the Triangle, the 100% Rule and the Three C’s!
  • Rules on Writing Heroes
  • Scene Types… and masses more!

Go raid it! http://thescriptlab.com/screenwriting-101/screenwriting

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Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheScriptLab

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheScriptLab

Their writing inspiration board on Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/thescriptlab/writing-inspiration/

REBLOGS WELCOMED

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This blog post by Cate Russell-Cole is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. You are free to share and adapt it.

Images in this post belong to The Script Lab and Open Clipart.com

Blogging Survival: Get Ahead

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Click to go to post.

With blogs, there are times when you have to hit the pause switch for the sake of sanity. But how? Around Thanksgiving last year, a fellow blogger put up a post asking, “should you blog through the holidays?” It was interesting to read how many people said yes, said no… or said no and then gave into temptation and pressure and blogged anyway! There are weeks when my husband has to refer to our family photos to remember what I look like, as I can’t be separated from the computer.

There is one technique which I have been using for the past two years to save my sanity and cater for those disruptions life puts in your way: scheduling. Writing ahead, even by a week or two, saves last minute “what will I post” panic attacks; stops multiple posts being sent out on one day; ensures you DO have time to go back and edit that dodgy bit you’re unsure about and gives you planning space. As I work in WordPress, here is how you do it.

2013-12-02_13-31-29While you are editing your post, on your right you will see the Publish box. On a new post it will come up as Publish Immediately. Click on Edit and you get this box where you can control exactly when your post will come out. The post I am writing now was written on the 2nd December last year. I am not bragging. As a migraine sufferer, I lose too many days on heavy painkillers and being forced into scheduling has been a great bonus! It does improve the quality of your blog as you have time to think.

If, like me, you are in an inconvenient time zone, scheduling also allows you to post in the zone where you get the best readership. With Twitter, Facebook, Triberr and Networked Blogs automatically sending out new post promotion live, I get the luxury of being asleep when my posts go out: between 1am and 2am my time. It’s bliss! No racing around multiple social media to spread the word. I love it! Use that Publicize feature and pre-hashtag post promo… it works.

Also be aware: I ran a weekly series in 2013 which I planned ahead, then added other periodic features plus my usual write-ahead posts. When I reached 100 scheduled posts, WordPress sent me an email saying STOP! They need you to save posts as drafts if there are a large number.

Keeping a blog running is a mammoth task: particularly if you like to post more than a few times per week. To stay productive you need to take time out. Like any muscle in your body, creativity needs to be rested so you can refresh. Without that you run out of ideas, enthusiasm and your blog becomes a major pain! Try scheduling as a painkiller. You have earned your time off and it will save you agony!


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This article / blog post is Copyright Cate Russell-Cole 2014. All rights are reserved Internationally. You may not reproduce it in any form, in part of whole, without Cate’s prior written permission. That includes usage in forms such as print, audio and digital imaging including pdf, jpg, png etc. A fee may be requested for re-using her work if it is for a commercial venture.

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Surviving BIG Blogging Mistakes

2014-02-14_09-23-58Sometimes we goof. We put up dead links, make spellling misteaks, or publicly make ourselves look as credible as Jar Jar Binks. “Yoosa should follow me now, okeeday?” *shudder* If you have made a grand faux pas, how do you recover?

That is the problem I have been pondering for the last week, as after placing too many promotional posts together, I have consistently lost 60% of my blog traffic. Damn! I wrote a reactive post, then thankfully had the sense to delete it. I realised that those who had walked away, would not be here to read my “ooops, my bad, I will ease up” rant. Instead, I have modified the posts to something much softer… but my ego hurts!

Recovery from a blooper will not come by force. The answer isn’t in storming out red-faced either. You have to “get back on the horse, unless you have to go to the hospital.” I am going to continue on as usual. The best blog posts are still pulling in “normal traffic,” so there is hope in that. Maybe my lost readers will forgive me? First, I have to forgive myself for being so dense! No matter how stats orientated we become, it is not the end of the world.

Maybe there are other reasons for a traffic drop I have not considered?

Maybe it’s not solely MY fault?

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Sally Jean, taken from Kristen's blog. Is there a chiropractor in the house?

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Sally Jean. Is there a chiropractor in the house?

If you are a sensitive, shy soul, as many of us writers are, when things go wrong, the first person we blame is ourselves. Life is a trial and error process. Creativity has hurdles we jump and get bruised on… and hurdles where we jump, then thrive off the elation of success. Growth comes from knowing there will be dark with the light and accepting that. Berating yourself won’t fix anything, you will just feel worse. Chalk it up as what doesn’t work and stay on that horse!

It comes down to patience, having the guts to try again and not just being greedy for success.

Speaking of success, Kristen Lamb’s blog has the most heartening post on author earnings and what will make you successful. It’s a must-read. In short, it takes patience, professionalism, quality online interaction and a backlist of work to set up a base on – and it occurs over multiple years, not fast. Remember: patience, patience, patience! When we are too eager to become an overnight success, we also become too eager to label ourselves as an instant failure.

Stay faithful to your dreams.

Those of you who are in it for the long haul, are the ones who will succeed.


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This blog post by Cate Russell-Cole is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. You are free to share and adapt it.

Image is from my Bitstrips account.

Blog Sidebars: Easy Ways to Add Whatever You Want

BlogTamingMonthCommuniCATE2If you are having issues getting images to show as the right size on blog side bars, or if you want to add colours to links or other fancy stuff to your blog, this post shows you how. It uses a “what you see is what you get” online app, which will let you do all that without having to turn into a geek or learn web code.

I will also tell you where to get more information and how to get the code into your blog. It is all free and very simple. If you are looking at this post saying, “I CANNOT and DO NOT want to write in html,” I don’t blame you, but don’t quit until I show you this service. You don’t have to learn any html. 

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A screenshot of the editor.

Basic Coding for Internet Links, Text etc.

1. Go to the site. There is no sign-up, mailing lists or catches.  http://html-color-codes.info/html-editor/

2. Type in what you want in the same way you would use a Word Processor or in the way you enter text and web addresses into your blog posts. When done, you can print the code and preview what it will look like. If you’re happy, then hit the html button to get the code, which you paste into the widget/gadget box on your blog. (Instructions on that are below.) Just type it in.

2014-01-09_15-48-483. If you want to keep a copy of your code on your computer, paste it into Text.exe on Windows or TextEdit.app on your Mac. If you paste it into some word processors, if can take the coding out of your view making future copy and paste impossible. You know it has done this if your program just shows you the final product with no codes in brackets.

4. If you already have widget or gadget code from another source that you wish to place on your sidebar: if you use Blogger and have pre-existing Javascript code you can paste in, you are fine. WordPress.com blogs will NOT EVER take any Javascript code. Their system just deletes it. That means you can’t monetize these free blogs and you can’t use a lot of great tools.


Image Coding

Html editing apps like Color Code’s Editor are also handy for getting image sizes in sidebars correct. I open up a new file in Dreamweaver to do my sidebars, as guessing at sidebar width in relation to the actual image width drives me nuts! Dreamweaver also allows me to colour text and size it as a headline. The web editor will allow you to do all that too.

1. To add an image to the web editing software, simply click on the tree photo icon in the menu bar, enter in the web address of the image (if you have uploaded it to your blog or Picasa, it will have a web address you can find if you locate the image in your Media files.) In WordPress, go to Media and upload any new image, then click on the image name in the Media Library and it will give you the link.

seamonkey-with-font2-web_r2. Once you place this in the web editor, you can then resize it, give it a border, align it etc. as you would in a blog post. It may be wise to ignore the advanced options.

If you want your own web editing software for your computer, use SeaMonkeyhttp://www.seamonkey-project.org It is also “what you see is what you get” and won’t scare you. It works like a Word Processor and is made by the Mozilla people, so it is free and handy if you are wary of your Internet usage.

One small caveat, I am not recommending coding your blog posts for WordPress.com sites. It will delete a lot of code outside a narrow allowance of what it will let you do. 


How to Enter Your Code into Your Blog

Both the WordPress Widget and the Blogger Gadget are really simple. They are just boxes where you paste the code in. You don’t need to fret that they will have a dozen settings which you have to understand. Just paste the code in, hit save. You are done.

What bloggers html gadget looks like with my code in it for my books.

What bloggers html gadget looks like with my code in it for my books.

WordPress’ Html Widget looks like the image below. There are no additional settings. You can use WordPress’ Image widget, but this is just as easy and the image one is much more complex.

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Easy Web Code References for your Blog:




This blog post by Cate Russell-Cole is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. You are free to share and adapt it.

Help to Solve Your Facebook Fan Page Problems

FB Timeline Unhide NoticeI used to advertise on Facebook: until they bought in timeline. Then the value I gained from my community building attempts died a cruel death. Everyone with a Page is now in the same boat: unless we throw in more and more and more money, which most of us simply can’t do, we have lost a huge chunk of our hard work. I have seen posts go from 800 views to 50 and I am angry. Many people have abandoned their Pages and I don’t blame them.

There are ways we can partially combat this. For a start, posting the image above to make others aware of what they can do, does help. Every time I post this image, it is seen more than other posts. Other ideas I have found online include:

  • Posting status updates which don’t have links in them. They seem to score well with Facebook’s new algorithm as engagement is the key, not just “look at my blog” or “please buy my book.”
  • Posting images which catch attention. They appear to frequently be shared. Some writers will put in an image that goes with their blog post, but place the link in the comments to work the system.
  • Telling your followers frequently to change that box that says “Highlights” to “Posts by Page” so they see all your posts. (See image below.) The problem is, that never stays changed!

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  • Refusing to pay Facebook for ads and promotion when even those who do pay don’t get a fair deal! If you used to pay or do, speak up and tell Facebook you are unhappy and why.
  • Encourage readers to use their own categories and not overfill them with Pages, so posts are more likely to be seen. Then check the categories rather than their timeline for new posts. There is no guarantee this will work, but it may help. I am always losing pages I like, so it can’t hurt to try.
  • Showing followers/fans how to get page notifications (and take that survey!)

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I know it sounds like a lot of work and many repetitive posts, however, if you still want to use Facebook as a promotional tool, the investment may be worth it. Feel free to use any of the screenshots on this post. (Right click on image and “Save As.”)

If you know of other ways, please tell me in the comments! I’d ‘like’ to know (pun intended!)

Most importantly…

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…please pay it forward this Valentine’s day by clicking Like and commenting on the pages you’re a fan of. The more support you give, the more you will receive. Spread the love!


This blog post by Cate Russell-Cole is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. You are free to share and adapt it.