The friendships that never were.

So, this happened again.

Despite my desire to protect myself, it seems I have a gift for overestimating people. I still don’t know whether or not that’s a good thing…

WordyNerdBird

I don’t understand why people push good friends away. 

Nobody needs bad friends – that’s a no-brainer.  I’ve had my share of backstabbers, gossips, control freaks and users that I’ve eventually woken up to and had to move on.  It hurts to know that another person doesn’t value you the way you value them, but it hurts more to stay in a friendship like that and let them keep doing it. That just reinforces and affirms their bad behaviour.  It’s asking for more. 
That’s never a good thing.

In the past six weeks, I’ve experienced something different than that. Two people, both of whom have been my friends for quite some time, have chosen to walk away from our friendship.  

Both have stunned me for a number of reasons. I’ve been a good, loyal and encouraging friend when their chips were down. I’ve sat up late listening and talking…

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Using Imagery to Make a Point: The Duel.

When I was a kid, I loved watching those Saturday afternoon spaghetti westerns with cowboys, a town sheriff, swinging saloon doors and the customary cowboy gunfights…

Folks have asked me from time to time to share some insight into the imagery and ideas I use to deliver particular messages in my poems.

I love using word pictures and different ideas to present a new perspective or my feelings about a particular situation in my poetry. It’s a time honoured tradition that even Jesus made good use of, so I work hard to get it right.

I’ve just posted a new poem called ‘The Duel’ on my WordyNerdBird Writes blog, so I figured that’s as good a place as any to start.

When I was a kid, I loved watching those Saturday afternoon spaghetti westerns with cowboys, a town sheriff, swinging saloon doors and the customary cowboy gunfights. There were always pretty girls wanting both cowboys to win, but everyone knew that wasn’t the way those things worked. The bartender spent more time polishing the bar than any bartender in any pub I’ve ever seen, but hey – he had to be doing something when he wasn’t serving the cowboys their shots of dutch courage. 
 
It’s the gunslinger imagery I’ve drawn on in ‘The Duel’.
Promo X The Duel
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We all know that movies don’t reflect the truths of real life as often as we thought they did when we were kids. But that’s the beauty of writing: I can make my characters do anything I want them do when I’m wielding the pen. If I can make them deliver a lesson while they’re doing it, even better.

So, I conjured up some cowboys – or cowgirls, if you prefer. I put spurs on their boots and pistols in their holsters. And I made one of them challenge the other to a duel.

Hopefully, you’re interested enough to the rest for yourself.
 
Cowboys. Resentment. Gunfight.
 
I’d love to know what you think of the poem, but I’m also keen to know if you’re interested in reading more insights like this. Don’t worry, though – I have no intention of explaining every poem. I’d like to think my poems do that pretty well for themselves.

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?
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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. 

How To Avoid Hashtag Hell.

Many people still wonder how to use  #hashtags effectively.

Hashtags can be enormously helpful in getting your message or product seen by more people on social media.
However, if not used the right way, they can easily turn into a millstone around your social media neck.
Today I’m offering a few tips that I’ve picked up along the way, in the hope of clarifying when and how to use hashtags to your advantage.

ON TWITTER     

  1. Keep it simple.
    Use up to four key hashtags ScreenHunter_416 Apr. 11 14.46per tweet.
    This way, your message is not overwhelmed by hashtags, and your tweet will look clean and uncluttered.
  2. Keep it relevant.
    Occasionally I might add another specific hashtag if my tweet is relevant to a specific event that is going on.

    For example, during Women’s History Month in March, I added either #CelebratingWomen or #WomensHistoryMonth to my tweets that were relevant – but not to all of them.

    Adding those tags to a post about spelling or writer’s block simply wouldn’t be appropriate, and would definitely look opportunistic rather than professional.

    Similarly, given that April is #NationalPoetryMonth, I’ve added that to my tweets inviting people to read my poetry on my blog, but not to the ones where I’m offering advice to authors learning to use social media.

  3. Keep it useful.

    Using hashtags that nobody is looking for is a waste of time and effort.

    Using the search bar near your profile menu and Tweet button, you can type in key words to see which hashtags are the most popular.

    ScreenHunter_413 Apr. 11 13.29

    The hashtags that come up will change as you keep typing – see from the illustration here the difference between typing ‘book’ and ‘bookw’.

    ScreenHunter_413 Apr. 11 13.30             ScreenHunter_415 Apr. 11 13.31

    This is a handy way to see what is most popular among the relevant terms that you could choose from.

ON INSTAGRAM AND TUMBLR
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  1. Keep it organised.
    Comment on your image or video, give your website or link, then use hashtags. It keeps things tidy, easy to read, and attractive to the eye.

    It also means that even when the feed condenses your post, people see the most important things first – your content, your message, and your website.

  2. Keep it useful.
    You can use more hashtags on Instagram or Tumblr, as this helps new people find your content.  You can use up to ten, but no more. Nobody wants half their feed taken up by dozens of hashtags that look as though they were chosen by a rabid squirrel who just couldn’t stop.
    2017-04-11 13.50.18
    As you are typing on Instagram, using a hash symbol # will cause tags to come up in a list as you type. Instagram is handy in that it gives you feedback on how many times that tag has been used. Here, #poems is good, but #poetry is way better so that’s the one I chose to use.
  3. Keep it relevant.
    Don’t use the most popular hashtag of the hour if it’s not related to the content of your post. Use the tags that will find the best audience for your content: those most likely to be interested.
    2017-04-11 13.50.31
    Once again, Instagram’s numbers on how many times a tag has been used are really helpful here. It can help you choose between terms like “writer” and “writersofinstagram” to get greater reach for your post.
  4. What seems convenient isn’t always best. 

    It can be really tempting to send your post from Instagram to all your other social media accounts.  However, that’s not always the best thing to do.

    Don’t share directly from Instagram to Twitter unless you’re under that 140 character limit.
    A longer message will get cut off, leaving your tweet looking like you don’t know what you’re doing. Nobody wants that.

    Don’t share directly from Instagram to Facebook if you want your post to look professional. A bunch of hashtags look completely out of place on Facebook. They’re not really needed there at all.

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Recap of the Indie Author Day Event on Facebook

It really was a fabulous day! Thank you so much for your input, encouragement, and for your contribution to making the day absolutely brilliant!

The Page Turner

Let me start by saying that when I first heard of the event I was immediately interested. What a wonderful way to meet other indie authors and learn from them. As an author of an indie publication, the marketing for the book falls on my doorstep.  I can use all the help I can get.

The day started at Midnight EST and I stayed up until 5:30 so that I could support the other authors and make sure they were not alone.  That was the number one fear. That no one would show up for the hour.  It was great to actually see how many readers and writers showed up for each hour.

The questions were interesting and extremely thought provoking. So many people asked for advice on publishing and writing. As an indie author, that is a huge question. Everyone has their own writing schedule and timetable, so it was…

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Book Review: Journey of a Lost Manuscript by Lorraine Smith

A great story, wonderfully told.

This is a wonderful story of a vellum manuscript from Tudor times, its appearance in a bookshop in Warrnambool in 2013, and the journey of discovery undertaken by Lorraine Smith to learn of the manuscript’s history.

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It’s well-written and very enjoyable to read. The reader gets a good feel for the character of the author as well as the different personalities she has encountered in her research.
The photographs and maps are all clear and well-labelled.

A great story, wonderfully told. I’m giving it 5 stars.

Journey of a Lost Manuscript is  listed on Goodreads and is available from Spectrum Books in Warrnambool, Australia.

Book Review: Crazy for Alice by Alex Dunn

“…a really interesting and compelling book.”

This was a really interesting and compelling book. It had a satisfying balance of humour and desperation among the characters, with a few good heart stopping moments thrown in for good measure. The ending was very satisfying.

I’d definitely recommend it for any Young Adult audience, and for anyone older who still enjoys a good story.
It would suit anyone who enjoyed the Harry Potter series by J.K Rowling or A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle.

I’ll definitely be recommending it for a few people I know!

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A Term of Lessons

Inspiring words from my friend and fellow teacher, Pieter.

Travels from Ur

Normally teachers teach. That is the idea of teaching. This term, however, I have been taught a lot. Over the last 11 weeks I have not only been completing my normal teaching load but I have also been learning how to teach English to migrants. From teaching the big ideas in literature I have had to move to teaching sentences in the simple present tense. After using the complicated meta language of English I have had to use simple descriptions and definitions. It has been hard.

I speak too fast. My writing is unintelligible. My words are too big …  for me it has been a head spinning time of redefining my teaching.

But I have learnt much more. I have learned about courage, hope, resilience, persistence … human qualities that we, in our comfortable lifestyles, have forgotten about. The stories that the refugees and migrants have told me of…

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