2017 Top Female Author Award – Poetry

Who won the 2017 Top Female Author Award for Poetry?

I did.
That’s who!

The fine folks over at The Authors Show have honoured my book Nova, and therefore me, with an award.

Promo Nova Cover with award

It’s a little hard to believe that I won. After all, it’s just me.
So, I’ve spent the day trying to reconcile the desire to tell everyone and celebrate with my lingering self-doubts and my possibly less-than-fully-rational fear of something horrid lurking around the corner to snatch away my joy.

But for now, I’m going to enjoy it. And then I’ll probably splash it all over social media.

Thank you for indulging me in my desire to tell someone!

The Importance Of Minding One’s Manners On Social Media.

The choice between being either the low point or a bright spot in someone’s day isn’t so complicated.

I was motivated to write this post by an experience I had a few weeks ago.
I posted a question on a blog post by someone who presents himself as a successful and popular author.  He probably is, but his response to my question was quite scathing. When I explained why I hadn’t read every blog post he had posted, he was so rude that I took screen shots. Of course, he had no idea that I took screenshots, but it made me feel better because I had evidence to support my increasing dislike for him and his condescending attitude. Who did he think he was, anyway?
screenhunter_410-mar-asshat-identity-concealed.jpg
ScreenHunter_410 Mar Asshat Identity Concealed 2
(I’ve concealed his identity here because I don’t feel like getting sued or anything like that.)
At this point, I made a decision to never buy his books, nor to help promote or encourage him in any way. I suspect several others probably made the same decision. When a friend went to read the exchange between us, he had deleted the whole thing, so I am sure he realised it wasn’t a good look for him. I highly doubt that it might occur to him to apologise for his rudeness, but I will never know, because I had promptly unfollowed his blog, deleted him from my twitter feed and blocked him on all social media.

Sure, my question might not have been the brightest or best he’s ever read. Even so, his response was condescending and made me feel really low. Who needs that kind of negativity in their life? I certainly don’t.

As an author who uses social media to build a following and hopefully sell my books, I can confidently state this is the least desirable outcome from interacting with others.
There is a valuable lesson that, whatever our profession might be, we can all take from this: never, ever, be an asshat to someone on social media. It’s far too easy to damage a reputation or a brand that you’re trying to establish and promote.
The choice between being either the low point or a bright spot in someone’s day isn’t so complicated. If people ask a question about your book, your blog, or your dog’s hind leg, simply be thankful they are interested enough to ask. Engage with them. Being friendly doesn’t cost anything, nor does it mean you have to pledge eternal friendship.
You will walk away with your integrity and your potential readership intact, if not a little more loyal towards you. As a writer, you can’t put a price tag on that.
*My original working title for this post was, in fact, “Why One Should Never Be An Asshat On Social Media”. I tidied it up a little. You’re most welcome. 

The Basics: Why Spelling and Punctuation Matter.

Make sure you’re sending the message you actually want to send to your audience, every time.

d-school-letter-grade
For the first time in a long time, I’ve recently abandoned reading a book. I’m usually fairly persistent, but I couldn’t get past the second chapter. It’s so full of basic errors, I’d be giving any of my students who wrote it a D.  That book – any book – has no business being for sale on any platform, Indie or otherwise, until it has been properly edited and corrected.

If I had a dollar for every time I have face-palmed over glaring errors of spelling, word choice or punctuation in someone else’s social media posts, I would be considerably richer than I am today.

As people who promote ourselves as writers, it’s crucial that we don’t make those mistakes.

I’m not talking about the occasional typo, and I’m not talking about the type of formatting error that can happen to absolutely anyone when converting a book to eBook format. I’m talking about really basic errors – missing punctuation, terrible sentence structure, shocking spelling. Of course, not differentiating correctly between “your” and “you’re” is always going to frustrate people. There will always be people who put apostrophes where they don’t belong and omit them where they are needed. The same is true for commas.

It boils down to the issue of credibility. If I cannot correctly construct a sentence to encourage people to buy my book, what is going to make people believe I could possibly write a whole book? A writer should be able to communicate their ideas and messages clearly and effectively, without frustrating the reader or making their eyes bleed.

Quite honestly, if someone’s social media posts are full of errors, I’m not going to be buying their book. I’m not even going to put my hand up for a free copy. And it’s not going to change my mind if people laugh it off and say, “It’s just Facebook… relax!”

I may be called judgemental  or overly critical. That’s okay.
As a reader and a frequent buyer of books, I’m entitled to be.
As a writer, nothing less should be expected.

proofreadingIf we want people to believe that Indie books are just as good as traditionally published books, we have to make sure they are. We must edit, and have them edited, as professional authors. We must promote both ourselves and our books as engaging, intelligent, and literate.  The example we set on social media is part of that, because that’s where we hope to find readers.

Please, folks, for credibility’s sake – in the interests of your own integrity – proof-read all your posts. Make sure you’re sending the message you actually want to send to your audience, every time.

The Value Of Commenting On A Blog.

Something many people don’t understand is the value of leaving a comment on a blog.

blogging

Something many people don’t understand is the value of leaving a comment on a blog.

It’s easy to read a post and move on, and even easier to like a blog post without reading it.

But stop and think for a moment. How much more valuable to the writer, and other readers, if you actually bothered to respond. Isn’t that what you’d hope for when writing your next blog post? Nobody wants to invest time in writing something that people are just going to skim over.

Not only that, but you will gain more from the post and from the interaction with others than you realise.

You might gain new ideas or perspectives, or you might just end up feeling a little better about life.

It doesn’t have to be a long or complicated post. Even just saying “thank you” or “I liked this!” does the trick.


However, commenting on a blog post is more useful than just propping up the ego of some blogger who hopes to be discovered one day.

Leaving a comment on a blog post doesn’t have to take more than five seconds, but it can make a huge difference to the blogger by helping them, and whatever they have to say, to become more “discoverable”. 

Leaving a comment on a blog directly affects the ranking and therefore the visibility of that blog on both the platform – such as WordPress or Blogger – and consequently on the web. Rankings and visibility affect which posts are chosen to be featured on the highlights pages of blogging platforms, such as the ‘Discover’ page on WordPress which pick up the posts that have had the most interaction and engagement, not just the ones with the most likes or views.

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One of the author support groups on Facebook to which I belong has been conducting an experiment over the past few weeks. We’ve made a deliberate effort to read, like and comment on a selected blog post by each of the others.

Those posts have consistently attracted more viewers beyond that initial group. These new viewers also seem more willing to read, like, and comment. This boosts the visibility of the individual post and of the blog overall, and helps to attract even more viewers.

In short, it’s a highly valuable snowball effect in drawing attention to both the post and the blog. 

Let’s face it. That’s a pretty cool thing to be able to do for someone.

Leave a comment and let me know what you think!

Why You Should Always Have A Pinned Post.

Whether on Twitter or Facebook, or any other social media where you can pin a post, you should.

Frankly, I’m surprised
at how many people don’t.

Whether on Twitter or Facebook, or any ScreenHunter_411 Apr. 07 15.29
other social media where you can pin a
post, you should.  Frankly, I’m surprised
at how many people don’t.

Here’s why.

It is an immediate way for people to see what you’re about – your book, your favourite charity, an upcoming event, social justice issues, whatever it is. 

It also serves as an easy way for people to share your posts and get your message out to even more people. Some of those people will share your interest, and either share your post or follow you. Some will do both. 

In short, it’s a great way to get more attention with minimal effort. 

If you have a good number of new followers on a regular basis, you can change your pinned post each week or each month to give followers and “click-throughs” something new to share on your behalf. 

It’s also a great way to get feedback on the effectiveness of your post.

The stats at the bottom of a pinned tweet tell me how many replies, shares and likes that post has had. Clicking on the little graph icon at the far right gives you even more detail about how far your post has travelled.

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It can get you more followers and more shares. 

There’s another thing to consider, too. If people click through to your profile and all you have is shares or retweets, they can easily decide you don’t have original thoughts to share and lose interest. Given that they’ve been interested enough to click through to your profile, that’s probably a bunch of shares and prospective followers that you’ve missed out on. 

To pin a post is easy.

On both Twitter profiles and Facebook pages, each post has a little down arrow at the top right-hand side. Click that, and choose “pin etc”.

That will remain your pinned post, and always appear at the top of your profile, until you choose to pin something else there. 

 

 

 

Nova. Apparently, it’s pretty good.

The reviewers agree: Nova is pretty good.

The reviewers agree: Nova is pretty good. promo-nova-cover
The first five reviews have all been five stars!

One of the biggest challenges writers face is getting their readers to give some feedback and tell other readers about the book. It’s always exciting when a review appears, and even more so when it’s positive.

I’ve chosen a couple of the newest reviews to share with you here.
The images may come up a bit small to read, so you can click through to the original reviews by clicking on each one.

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This one is a brand new review this week, written by novelist Kyra Leary.
She seems to like my work.

ScreenHunter_410 Mar. 10 09.21

Nova is available at:

unnamed     iBookstore     blurb

Teachers, eh?

Just now I was in my local Woolworths store on my way to work. 

The cashier was chatty.

“Much on for the day?”

“On my way to work.”

“What do you do?”

“I’m a teacher.”

“Oh. And only on your way to work now?”

“I work part-time.”

“Teachers, eh?”

Stunned silence. I looked at her pointedly. 

Then I said, “What does THAT mean?”

She didn’t reply. 

So I continued: “Whatever it meant, you’re probably wrong.”

I really wanted to tell her that she probably makes almost as much per hour as I do, and she didn’t need a university education to achieve that. 

I wanted to tell her that I only work part time because my health issues mean I can’t work full time.

I wanted to tell her that teachers do as many hours outside the classroom as they do in it, and that “all those holidays” usually get eaten up by planning, preparation and a pile of marking. 

And I wanted to tell her that assuming something about what a person does, whether they’re a teacher or a checkout chick, is not okay. 

I didn’t, though. Ijust took my bag of shopping and left. 

Great start to my day. Thanks, lady. 

A horrible chain of events occurred in Melbourne today. A man drove a car into a group of people, killing some and injuring others, including children.  Some of the injured remain in a critical condition. 

It wasn’t terrorism. Just an angry man in a car. 

Funny, though. Nobody has mentioned his religion, and there have been no popular calls for his particular ethnic group to explain or apologise for his actions. 

Nor should they be expected to. Ever. 

It’s his responsibility, not theirs. 

But you can bet your sweet patootie that it would be a different story if he were a Muslim or a recent immigrant from the Middle East. 

We’re not judgemental, though. Nor racist. Mmmkay?

Spotting the problem.

And again… there are public health alerts in Melbourne for a measles epidemic.

And again… there are public health alerts in Melbourne for a measles epidemic.  Seriously?

What part of “if you’re sick, stay home!” do people not understand?

After shaking my head at the lead story about two kids who have travelled internationally, gone shopping, and heaven knows what else for the past two weeks while they were highly contagious, I wrote this.

Look out, look out, the spots are about
Because some folks won’t immunise their kids,
But when the “did nots” find their kids have the spots

They’ll be sorry and wish that they did.
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I’ve heard all the arguments against vaccination, and I simply do not believe them.

As someone with compromised immunity due to a chronic illness, I am certainly glad that my parents made me have that needle that made me squawk for two seconds as a child. After 29 years of teaching, it’s probably the reason I’m still alive.

RIP George Michael et al 2016

“RIP George Michael,
Another favourite gone…”

RIP George Michael,
Another favourite gone.
First Bowie, then Prince and Rickman
And then it was Leonard Cohen.
But Donald Trump is alive and well –
What drug has this year been on?