Drowning in my ‘To Do’ List

 

 

Why do I always feel like I’m treading water?

I write a list which keeps chores, projects, appointments, and phone numbers handy, but…

This ‘To Do’ list never actually, you know, gets done. Which kind of defeats the purpose.

I continue to add to it until that cute, little notepad shaped like an owl or sunflower just won’t cut it and I have to break out the big guns. A huge, yellow legal pad. And still…I’m writing on the second then third page. This is usually for one week’s day’s worth of stuff.

If I complete something, I get that satisfaction of crossing it off. *ah* I love that. Sometimes, if I sweep the house and it wasn’t on the list, I’ll add it just to cross it off. That’s a perk of the dreaded list. (I know. It’s pathetic.)

What’s more pathetic is, when I complete a ‘work’, ‘home’, or ‘writing’ task, something else rushes in to take its place.

A ‘To Do’ list is helpful in certain ways but also serves as a tangible reminder that I WILL NEVER FINISH THAT LIST.

It’s like trying to scoop water out of a pool with a teaspoon while a waterfall splashes more in right next to me.

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

ThoughtBubble

Do you use a list to keep track of all the things you need to do? Do you have another (better) way? An app? A different way of approaching the traditional ‘To Do’ list? (Not including ripping it in half and throwing it in the trash – tried that. Doesn’t work.) If so, please share your wisdom in the comments. I need a life vest. Thank you…

 

 

Why You Need a ‘Contact’ Page

 

 

I’ve recently run across a few blogs where, for one reason or another, I would have liked to contact the writer. I looked for a ‘contact’ page. I looked on their ‘about’ page (if they had one). I looked all around their homepage. Alas, if the information was there, I couldn’t find it. Perhaps I gave up too soon. Regardless, I did give up. That’s the point of this post.

I found something on Sue Vincent’s blog a few months ago talking about the various reasons why it’s probably a good thing for your readers to be able to contact you. It also gives step-by-step instructions on how to create a contact form if you’re a bit wary of sharing your email address on your blog.

Click on ‘my sites’ top left of the screen, scroll down to WP Admin on the blue drop-down menu and click.

Hover over ‘pages’ (or ‘posts’ if you prefer, but it will get lost unless you pin it) and click ‘add new’.

There, at the top of the screen, is a button to ‘add contact form’. Click this and it opens a drop down box.

Click ‘add this’ and it inserts a whole bunch of bracketed code. It will show up with your details in it on the preview, but they are not visible to others.

And there you have a working contact form.

Just so I’m not accused of being a hypocrite, I’ll come right out here and say, if you look at my menu, there is no ‘contact’ page. I’m thinking of adding the form Sue mentions but, in the meantime, there’s my ‘about’ page. I’ve had a way to contact me on there since the beginning of this blog.

That said, perhaps I’ll make it a bit more obvious…

Anyway, do check out Sue’s post:

 

 

 

Do you have a ‘contact’ page? Or a way to contact you on your ‘about’ page or main blog? If not, is it an oversight or something you’ve chosen not to do?

 

5 Ways Twitter Helps You Become a Better Writer

 

I’m so excited to be over at the awesome Sacha Black’s this week. Her intro for my post gave me a good laugh. Much love to her for that and for hosting my words and wisdom. Or my words, anyway.

Check it out and drop a comment completely agreeing with me (or heckling…I’m good either way). Cheers!

 

 

Whether you love Twitter, hate it, or feel a bit iffy, I’ve got news for you.

Tweeting improves your writing.  

Clicking the button on someone’s blog with that little blue bird on it doesn’t count. I’m talking about composing a tweet. Writing something. All the cool kids are doing it. I’ve lost count of how many hashtag games there are on Twitter.

What am I going on about? Here’s what: Twitterature. Get it? Twitter Literature. I know. Sounds made up. It’s not. It’s a real thing. Seriously.

If you’re a writer not taking part in any of the prompts on there, you’re missing out.

Why are you missing out? Here’s why: Microbursts. Get it? Micro fiction bursting with story. This one is not a real thing—it’s something I completely made up for my book but totally should be a thing. (For my fellow nerds, yes, microbursts are real but they are a weather phenomenon so don’t go there. We’re talking about writing. Focus, people!) You’d be surprised how much you can fit in a tweet.

Let’s talk about how this fast-paced platform helps you become a better writer.

 

Way 1 – Learn to Be Concise

You have to be brief when writing a scene, story, or joke in 140 characters or less. Even if you tend toward the dark side of verbosity, you can tweet. If you’re naturally wordy, you won’t be. You can’t be. It’s 140 characters. With a hashtag. You can’t afford to be long-winded. Succinct is the secret. The limit forces you to edit. Every. Word. Counts. Cut the crap, you know? Get rid of it. If it doesn’t fit in that tiny tweet, make it fit. Writers from all genres do this every day on Twitter.

Continue reading…

 

Have You Cleaned Your Book Links Yet?

 

 

Everyone loves cleaning, right?

Yeah.

Here’s a quick and easy (don’t you just love those words?) way to clean something super important: buy links for your books.

 

Hmm… Long, messy link. (Clean-up on aisle five!)

Happy, clean, pretty link!

How did I get that? Easy. Delete everything highlighted in yellow. (That would be everything after your ASIN.)

What are those reference, encoding, string of letters and numbers thingies? Why are they there? If the link works without them (it does), why include them? You need your ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number) but after that…?

You could take out the “https” or the “www” (or even the title of your book if you’d like) to shorten it for sharing or just to look nice. But, for now, I’m thinking that stuff at the end there would be great to, you know, not be there.

I don’t know much about the mumbo-jumbo techie stuff like algorithms or backlinks or tracking or, actually, anything of the sort but I still think cleaning links is a good idea. If there’s even a potential problem, why risk it? I read this post on D.G. Kaye’s site a few months ago regarding Amazon links. She gives info on what all this stuff might mean for you and your books. If you haven’t read it, you really should.

And, though I’ve seen many people write about this, I’m still seeing lots of long links out there. Perhaps it’s not crucial to remove that gobbledygook but…what if it is? Get rid of it.

I guess that’s all I’m saying.

So now you’re saying, “Yah, well my links are clean, lady!”

Then I say, “That’s great! What about the links to other people’s books? The ones you’re promoting on your blog or posting on social media?”

Uh-huh.

Clean those up, too, you know? Because. You’re nice that way.

A global or universal link will eliminate the need to do this for your books but a lot of people haven’t gotten around to that yet. *raises hand* Also, that doesn’t help when you’re sharing other people’s books or they’re sharing yours and don’t have your link. If you get into the habit of dropping that gunk after the ASIN (see the highlighted link up there ↑↑↑), it won’t be an issue. You’ll always have clean links. And your fellow authors will, too.

 

Are your links clean? If not, why? Is this a choice or have you just not gotten to it yet? (P.S. Even if you use clean links in your posts, please check your sidebars… Just saying.) 🙂

 

P.P.S. I’m just taking a shot in the dark here but you should probably clean before creating a universal link. I mean…who knows what happens if you use a long link with all those encoded reference thingies to paste into a global link? Does it clean for you? Does it forever track you? No clue.

 

I’m sharing Debby’s comment in the post here for more info:

it’s important to clean off the links of other’s books when you’re promoting them because anyone who…decides to buy from the link provided to get to Amazon can be misconstrued as a ‘friend’ of the author…it’s a target and flag to Amazon that the book was purchased from a tracked link making you look like you knew the author because it was a trailed link, not the clean link you’d see if you actually just went to Amazon direct to the book page. 🙂 [Also]…Universal links should be clean…”

 

Why You Should Embed Tweets in Your Blog Post

 

lemon-shark-screen-shot-sarahb

 

I shared how to embed tweets in a blog post but you may be asking yourself why you’d want to.

 

You: “So, Sarah, that was cool and all but why would I need tweets on my blog?”

Me: “What?! Because!”

You: …

Me: “It’s awesome, that’s why!”

You: …

Me: “Okay. I’ll tell you.”

 

These embedded tweets are… Psst… Come closer… *whispers* Interactive.

I know, right? How cool is that?! Readers can do anything right from your blog.

  • Open your tweet
  • Visit your timeline
  • Check out a hashtag
  • Follow
  • Like
  • Retweet
  • Reply

Everything is clickable. It’s basically a live tweet. One that you’ve highlighted. One that you want to share with your blog readers.

I do like Twitter but, let’s face facts, that thing moves like ticker tape. It’s so easy to miss tweets from your tweeps. Depending on how often you post, that tweet is going to be much more visible here.

And it doesn’t have to be just one. You can make an entire post from tweets. Maybe you’ve had an interesting conversation about traditional vs indie publishing. Or the best way to make brownies. Or whether spiders or rats have had better PR. (I’ve had that last convo quite recently: Mickey Mouse and Spider-Man. It was weird.)

Regardless, it makes for a fun post and people can interact with each tweet by liking, retweeting, and even replying to it right from your blog.

 

FOLLOW:

This allows readers to…well…follow you.

Click to enlarge

 

TIMELINE:

Your name/avi brings readers directly to your timeline. (They can open a specific tweet by clicking on the time/date of the embedded tweet.)

Click to enlarge

 

LIKE:

Click to enlarge

 

RETWEET:

Click to enlarge

 

REPLY:

Readers can reply to your tweet right here.

Click to enlarge

A pop-up box appears, they write 140 characters (or less) in reply to you, then click “tweet”. This shows up on their timeline and yours. Nice!

Click to enlarge

 

Let’s try this, shall we? I’ll embed a tweet or two, you have fun:

 

 

* I tried a poll a few years ago and, when I posted about it, most bloggers said they hadn’t seen the poll on Twitter. If you embed it, both your blogging friends and your tweeps can vote.

 

Hope you found some fun ways to use a tweet on your blog. Remember…a well-placed tweet can make a good post great. (I just made that up but it’s kind of cool.) 🙂

Happy blogging (and tweeting) days, my friends!

 

How to Embed Tweets in Your Blog Post

 

lemon-shark-screen-shot-sarahb

 

Tweets aren’t just for Twitter anymore.

Here’s a neat thing you can do with those tweets right here on your WordPress blog. It’s wicked cool. And easy. 3 steps…done.

All of you lovely bloggers know I’m not a techie but I wanted to share this fun find with you.

I have visuals, too, which is awesome. Admittedly, I went a bit bonkers with the arrows but…you get the point. (I know. I’m hilarious.)

First we’re going old school with a “cut and paste” URL option, then we’ll embed an html code like we know what we’re doing.

No need to hurt your eyes squinting at the screenshots—you can click to enlarge them. Let’s get tweeting on our blogs.

 

Copy Link Option:

STEP ONE:

Choose the tweet you want. Click on the cute, little grey v-shaped thingy in the top, right corner.

Click to enlarge

 

STEP TWO:

You’ll see a drop-down menu with all sorts of neat things like “pin to your profile page” (or “unpin” if it’s already pinned), “share via DM”, and “delete tweet” (for those times when Twitter decides to add a typo after you’ve posted). Click on “Copy link to tweet”.

Click to enlarge

Here is what you’ll see. Select and copy. It’s a URL so you can use this anywhere you’d use a link.

Click to enlarge

 

STEP THREE:

Open a post and paste the copied link. You’ll be in “visual” view for this. Hey! There’s a tweet!

Click to enlarge

Copying the link works well on WordPress but may not work on other platforms. On a website, for example, this option will simply create a URL to the tweet.

 

Embed Code Option:

STEP ONE:

We’re going to embed that tweet now. Hold on to your hats. Choose the tweet you want. Click on the cute, little grey v-shaped thingy in the top, right corner. There’s that drop-down menu. Click on “Embed tweet”.

Click to enlarge

Here is what you’ll see. Select and copy the html code.

Click to enlarge

 

STEP TWO:

Open a post. Switch to “text” view. Paste the code. Hmm…there’s a bunch of html stuff there I don’t understand. *shrugs*

Click to enlarge

 

STEP THREE:

Let’s switch to “visual” view and see what happens… There they are! Except, erm, they look different. Click “Preview”.

Click to enlarge

No worries! When you preview, they look the same.

Click to enlarge

Embedding has a few more options and benefits but, for the sake of brevity (and for those who don’t play well with html), these are two ways to get a tweet into a WordPress post. Pick one, have fun, and tweet on.

Tune in tomorrow, Same Bat-Time, Same Bat-Channel, for my follow-up post on embedding tweets. What they are and why you want to use them.

Happy blogging days, my friends.

 

Help Me Find Your Blog

 

gravatar-image

Your Gravatar

Your G (globally) R (recognized) Avatar (um…avatar)

 

I’m not saying you must have one of these or even should have one. It’s totally up to you, of course. But it’s possible you’ve heard something like this from me:

“Hello. 🙂 Just an FYI: Your Gravatar leads to your old blog.”

Or

“Hi there. 🙂 Your Gravatar is unclickable.”

You may already know this. You may not care. You may want it that way. But, just in case, it’s an easy fix.

Sometimes, when I’m rushing around or out and using my phone (which, if I’m honest, isn’t “sometimes”, it’s “most of the time”), I’ll click on your name (or image) to get to your blog. It’s quicker and easier than searching through social media for your handle or typing your name into Google then scrolling until I find you.

If you have a Gravatar, think of it as your avi, bio, blog, social media, and all that jazz rolled into one.

Update that bad boy for your bloggy friends so we can find you. Or don’t. But please don’t take offense if I comment about your GRA. Take it with some grains of salt (around the rim of your glass), a margarita, and a smile.

 

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

ThoughtBubble

Do you have a Gravatar? Does it link to your current blog/website/social media? Do you keep it up-to-date or have you forgotten about it until now?

FAQ and useful info: http://en.gravatar.com/support/

 

After talking to some tweeps, thought I’d add a quick how-to sort of thing:

Sign in to Gravatar.

Click on “MY PROFILE” at the top of the page.

On the right, you’ll see a list.

“WEBSITES” allows you to add, well, websites. (You can add all sorts of things here that you want to show up as a thumbnail image below your name – not just WordPress blogs, FYI.)

“VERIFIED SERVICES” gives you a drop-down menu letting you quickly and easily add social media by cutting and pasting the link to your Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Blogger, YouTube, and more.

 

Time, Time…Ticking Away

 

clock-sig

 

Some people are always whining about not having enough time.

I am one of those people.

Inevitably, I’m subjected to someone telling me, “We all have the same number of hours in a day.” They then tell me I’m choosing to spend these hours not writing or reading or blogging and that, they claim, is my problem.

Uh huh.

Well, I’ve got to say, that really used to tick me off. (Get it? Tick me off? Tick. Tock. That was fun.)

But I guess, if you think about it, they’re right. I am choosing.

What they don’t realize is that the choices some of us make are significant: Write or eat? Read or sleep? Blog or bathe? Respond to post comments or spend time with our children?

While most avid readers would lose a bit of sleep to finish a good book, please… Be kind when someone says they are short on time. Because there are people who actually do have extremely limited free time due to circumstances beyond their control. And their choices aren’t always easy.

There are writers who are choosing between finishing their physical therapy exercises and finishing writing their next chapter. There are unwashed mums (and dads) who are missing out on a game of Monopoly with their kids to read blog posts and respond to comments.

There are meetings and appointments, science fairs and soccer games. There are art shows, recitals, school functions, and award ceremonies. This is in addition to yardwork, cooking, cleaning, laundry…

Sometimes, the choice isn’t between writing and watching TV, it’s between writing and attending their child’s play.

To me, that is not a choice. And for those who don’t understand that, there’s really nothing I can say. (Though I’ll probably still complain about lack of time.) #sorrynotsorry

Usually, I choose my health and my family over reading, writing, blogging, and social media. But not always. I’m ashamed to admit it, but there it is. And I know I’m going to regret it.

Yes. We do all have the same number of hours in a day but not always the same amount of time. In regards to how we spend that time, yes, we have choices. But some choices are easier than others.

 

Do you feel like you don’t have enough time to get things done (reading, writing, social media, blogging, commenting…)? Do you find it easy to make choices about how you spend your time? Are you one of those “we all have the same amount of hours in a day” people? Be honest. We’ll still love you.

 

Cheers to You, My Friends

 

cheers-to-you-my-friends

 

I’m making a list. I’m checking it twice. I’m going to toast you. Naughty or nice.

Seriously, it doesn’t matter. Either way, you’re good on my list.

Every year, during the holidays, I watch A Christmas Carol and It’s a Wonderful Life. Numerous times. Many numerous times. And, while I watch these films, I eat yummy foods. And drink delicious beverages. Sometimes seasonal beer, sometimes red or white wine, sometimes a treat of something sweet like Baileys. It’s a tradition.

So is toasting. The drink, the meal, the movie, the season…

And this year I’m adding you, my bloggy friends and fellow tweeps. Because, whatever my love/hate relationship with social media, the blogging “rules” I refuse to stress myself over, keeping up online appearances, I still appreciate you. Muchly. I love the comments, conversation, and community. You are the wind beneath my fins. (I could not even help that and have no idea where it came from—apologies.)

Back to my list. I’m actually making one. For real. Leave a comment with your preferred movie. I will raise my glass to you in gratitude, good health, and a happy holiday.

Thank you, gentle readers.

Cheers!

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

ThoughtBubble

Happiness, joy, peace, love, chocolate, wine, and cheese platters, my friends! Happy Holidays! ❄️

(A Christmas Carol or It’s a Wonderful Life? P.S. If you don’t care for either of these movies, please, I beg of you, don’t tell me. It will hurt my delicate feelings. But, if you feel the need, just write: “I won’t say… Cheers!” and I will still include you on my list.)



Pinstagram

 

pinstagram-sig

 

When I asked whether writers should use Pinterest or Instagram, there was a clear winner: Pinterest.

However.

I keep stumbling across articles saying how Instagram is awesome for authors.

What I don’t understand, about either of these, is how they are “social” media.

I get that you’re more visible, building your platform and so forth, but the chattiness of, say, Twitter is not there. (Claims the girl who is on neither of these networks.)

As I see it:

Instagram: A cool place to showcase pictures of your vacation, your lunch, or your cat. Or show off your mad photography skills.

Pinterest: A cool place to create collections of pictures that you like, that you took, or that inspire you. Or all of the above.

How is this social? And why are the articles saying you must be social on these networks…or else? (And what is the “or else”, anyway? Are there social media monsters that will crawl out of my computer and gobble me up? Actually, that’s creepy.)

By the way, I haven’t ignored you, my lovely friends. Pinterest it is. Because you said so.

Here I am… pinterest.com/sarahbrentyn

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

ThoughtBubble

Are you on Pinterest? If so, let me know so I can find you and “friend” you or “follow” you or, um, “buddy” you or “chase” you or something. Also, are you social on there? How? I’ll try my damndest to be social with you.

If you’re on Instagram and really like it, I could be persuaded to join that, too. Let me know…