5 Social Media Lessons Learned

Okay, so last week I whined about being Alone in the Publishing Wilderness. As a writer, I didn’t want to have to do everything (marketing, blogging, facebook/twitter/etcetera) all the time (I still don’t).  And I got a lot of response from others feeling pressured, and overwhelmed, by all that goes with publishing. As I’m ramping up for the release this year of my second novel, I’d really like to get this whole writer-marketer thing down to where I’m comfortable with it.

In the past week, I’ve learned five important lessons about the publishing world, and myself, that I thought I’d share.

1. I don’t want to be a publishing dinosaur. As much as I’d love to hide in my cave and just write, I tried that. Didn’t work. (Well…I got a lot written, but slowly – it was the beginning of my career, what can I say? I didn’t work HARD enough.) Now I’ve got a day job, learning new stuff – I can and will learn the new publishing stuff, too. It’ll keep me nimble, lol.

2. Reading others’ blog posts informs me, broadens my horizons, and gives me a few chuckles. The mere act of reading someone else’s thoughts gives me more opportunity to empathize (or get angry on behalf of – depending), strengthening the human connection. Gives me food for thought and conversation with the family and the boss. (Good conversation is RARE!!!) Plus  anyone that provides belly laughs is my friend for life. And you never know where the germ of a story idea will come from.

3. I am not Alone – I am a Modern Author/Warrior. Kristen Lamb’s latest post finally explains it to  me to where it’s palatable. I’m really looking forward to the nify armor! Plus she and the other MyWANA teams totally rock, and I keep forgetting to keep them at the front of my mind. If you’ve noticed the #MyWANA hashtag, or all the derivatives, but haven’t understood it, see her video for a full explanation here

4. More Blogging is a Good Thing.  Just like More Cowbell (my new favorite blog). I enjoy blogging, I like talking about wines and recipes and every now and then, my writing. Kristen Lamb tells us to set aside time to do our blog posts in advance  and schedule them accordingly…well, yeah, okay, I can work on getting organized. (Kristen also says that if we make our bed every day, that it will eventually lead to a clean house. Haven’t noticed that one working yet…) 

Maybe I’ll start having guest posts once a week. Takes some pressure off, you know? Plus, after reading this fascinating article about 12 blogging mistakes from the guys at SEO MOZ, Irealized that perhaps search engine optimization IS something I need to learn.

5. Content is Still King.  Whether you’re writing a novel, short story, blog post or grocery list, content is still king. The only thing that’s better than strong, solid content is LOTS of it. (Hence more blog posts. And the masked guy in the corner, fingering his whip every time I stop typing on my latest manuscript, lol.) I read Bob Mayer’s post this week on the secret handshake of successful digital publishing – and it restored my faith in content.

Other places to go for more inspiration:

Bob Mayer’s post on Platform, Product, Promotion is something every writer needs to read.

JA Konrath provides thought-provoking tidbits on A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing, and his latest post is one of my favorites.

Piper Bayard and her partner, Holmes, always have interesting (and funny) stuff to pass on to us real people. Love this post on the Guinea Pig Diaries!

On a General Writing Note: I LOVE Savvy Authors.  It’s a free site (they also have a paid site) and the posts are always informative, no matter where you are in your writing career.

So, that’s what I’ve learned this past week. What are some of your favorite blogs to visit for inspiration, or a chuckle? I’d love to know! Please feel free to include the link in your comment so I can check them out!


Stray Thoughts, Plus a Mashup of Awesomeness

Sometimes, a girl just needs a place to put some random and stray thoughts down, you know? So here goes.

~ No one should bomb Norway. No way, no how. Too, too sad. I wish I could hug everyone there.

~ No one should go past the barriers at Niagra Falls. No way, no how. Too, too sad that they died.

~ Amy Winehouse. Too, too sad. Finally bought her Back to Black cd…but that’s me, all over it – but only when it’s all over.

~ Google + Well, from everything I’m hearing – I’m glad I didn’t jump on that bandwagon. I still may, but they’ve got a lot of ‘splaining to do.

~ Hey Mambo Red – Just bought another 3 bottles of it. 2 for camping. Truly. No joke. Stop it! (sipping on the 3rd bottle as we speak…)

~ Speaking of wine – hubby picked up two more bottles of the Ironstone Symphony. One’s in the fridge. We don’t go camping for two more weeks. May just have to pick up another bottle.

~ even though she spelled my hero’s name wrong, Eva’s Sanctuary gave DEMON SOUL a 4.5 stars out of 5. Can’t complain!

~ Didn’t see Deathly Hallows part 1. But LOVED part 2. Alan Rickman is the man. THE MAN! Best of luck to the three main kids. Whatever they do, they’re set for life – monetarily. I hope.

~ Don’t understand folks putting their first – or subsequent – chapters of their works in progress up online. If it’s bad, um, oops? And if it’s good – same go. As someone else’s gramma used to say about premarital sex – why should I buy the cow when I get the milk for free? (Even if the milk (book) is bad.)

~ Love the supportive writer community. I don’t know – is it just the folks I’m connected with on Twitter/Facebook/email? Or is it all writers? Don’t care. Love it!

~ Why is it you replenish a drink, but you never plenish it?

~ Borders closing. My heart breaking. School kids everywhere losing a place to be tutored. Writers everywhere losing a place to write. Readers everywhere losing a place to get lost in a book. Lose/lose proposition. Damn you, Amazon.

~ Yay for young people willing to join the Peace Corps after college. Shannon D, I’m so proud of you.

~ Hate politics. Doesn’t matter which party at this point. It seems it’s “party above country” – and that’s just WRONG. #governmentfail

~ Still love Joss Whedon. How can I not? Buffy 4-Ever.

~ Having a broken leg sucks. Going on vacation with a broken leg is better than not going on vacation – even if it’s camping.


Below are some of the wonderful places I’ve been in the last week or so. Hope you enjoy.

Visit a different side of Paris with John Sealander. I’ve been there in the snow. It’s another world, totally.

If you haven’t discovered Eden Bradley/Eve Berlin yet, you should. She writes fantastic, sexy, intelligent books.

Susan McMartin suffers for beauty, after an enforced absence. Truly funny.

Les Floyd discusses the weekend’s news in this heartfelt and inspiring post. He’s my new hero.

If you haven’t heard of Savvy Authors yet, and you’re a writer, then you need to go there. Now. Tons of helpful information no matter how long you’ve been writing.

Don’t forget to pick up your copy of DEMON SOUL. Just got a 4 star review in September’s Romantic Times Book Reviews, and a 4.5 star review at Eva’s Sanctuary. Try it – you’ll like it!

That’s all for now, folks. Remember, summer is about half over. Have fun, love much, and drink responsibly!




My New Secret Weapon – The Power of #1k1hr

I have a confession to make. My latest book has been intractable. Or maybe that’s just me? Anyway, words aren’t working, plots aren’t cohesive, characters keep slipping their reins and changing their spots. It’s enough to make even the sanest writer wiggy.

I did what I could. For instance, I went over everyone’s motivations and conflicts. I replotted everything from the Big Bad Troublemaker’s point of view. Which gave me all sorts of things to throw at the Hero and the Heroine. All good, right? And I came up with a long list of scenes to write.

I thought I was set until I got to the actual writing. Every action seemed to have to be written. He got into the car. She buckled her seat belt. They breathed. They looked at each other. He started the car. See what I mean? I bored myself to tears.

Two things came to my rescue. First off, Savvy Authors is having their May bootcamp challenge. I’m going to be writing 60k this month, or 2,000 words a day. Okay. I can handle that as I’m not currently working a day job and my children are old enough to take care of themselves. I’m with a fantastic group of authors and we’re all kicking ass on our manuscripts (I’m not about to let them down!).

But I still had that …and then they went to the office, and then they went to kill the demon, and then they… well, you get the idea. I had that problem. Which is where Twitter saved my ass.

Excuse me? Why did you giggle? Oh, you’re not on Twitter. That’s okay. I fought it for a long time, too. But you know what? Right now it’s the single most powerful tool I have for getting words on the page.

Behold – I present to you the power of #1k1hr. The first time I saw that flash by on Twitter, (I believe it was Skylar Kade that I first saw using it), I admit I was intrigued. They were usually talking about how many words they had gotten done during the past hour.

Oh. OH! One thousand words in one hour. I GET it! So when Zoe Archer put out a call last week or so for anyone up for #1k1hr, I hopped in. Why not? It wasn’t a marriage – it was simply someone to hold me accountable for my wordage. Heck, she’s a fabulous writer and I didn’t want to look stupid in front of her, so add that in to the equation, too.

We began at the :15 (since on Twitter, not everyone is in the same time zone, we leave the hour off…it’s either at the top of the hour, the :15, the :30, or – well, you understand) and I wrote like mad. Every time I wanted to stop, I’d look at my word count, check the clock, and keep going.

I’ll admit that first hour I didn’t make 1k. But you know what? I had more words than I would have if I’d been going it alone. And now after getting the hang of it I can usually pull more than 1k in 1hr.

Since then I’ve hooked up with Cid Tyer, Suzan Isik, and Kat Jameson for #1k1hr and of course, I’m still bumping into Zoe Archer and Skylar Kade. Is it working? Well – last week I almost wrote 3000 words.

This week? Sunday in two separate #1k1hr sprints I wrote 2454. Monday I did two and a half #1k1hr sprints and wrote 3297. Yesterday, I made it to 3662 words in another two and a half #1k1hr sprints. So you tell me. Is #1k1hr working, or not?

If you’re not already on Twitter, join up and find me at @CCAshworth. I’m almost always up for a #1k1hr – join me, won’t you?

By the way. These words I’m writing? They’re much more interesting than the “…and then they went to the office, and then they went to kill the demon, and then they…” words I got down last week. Are they perfect? Of course not – this is still a first draft. But they’re getting me closer to “the end” – and that, in the long run, is the only thing that matters.

60K in a month? Bring it on. I am SO there.

Updates from an RT Virgin

So, today is the first full day of the Romantic Times Booklovers’ Convention here at the Bonaventure Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. But I’m going to back up to yesterday.

I attended a BookCamp event that went from 1:30pm to 8pm, so I got to the hotel early in the hopes I wouldn’t be dragging my luggage, my pens, bookmarks, ballgown, faery wings, and venetian mask around.

Luckily, I got in with no problems and by 12:30 was anxiously waiting for my luggage to appear in my room. Which it did about 20 minutes later. GORGEOUS ROOM. Must remember to sneak hubby in at least a couple of nights. Ahem.

So, BookCamp. First off, the people – Angela James was there, as was Miss Smart Bitches herself (but I didn’t get a chance to talk to her – what a hoot! I love her!), and Patrick, the man behind Good Reads – plus lots of readers and authors. The purpose behind it is kind of a non-structured convention – we all came up with ideas to break into small sessions for, and we came up with 16 different topics – everything from “what about libraries?” to contracts, to audio books, to reading groups…we had three 40 minute blocks of time, spread across four different classrooms – and we shared information. No one person stood at the front to talk – we sat in a circle and talked. Shared ideas. And no matter what topic we talked about, everyone was gracious and respectful of each other. Polite discourse. Fascinating!

After it was over, we moved to Borders Grill across the street from the hotel and had a cocktail party, which was part of the event. Lovely drinks and appetizers. Of course, it was very loud in there, and quite disorienting for me, so I bugged out kind of early and wandered the food court in the hotel before going up to my room. A woman in front of me was desperate for a can of coke – when I saw her name tag, I did obeisance. BJ Daniels is  all over the Harlequin romance world, and I always love reading her work. So to meet her in person was a thrill! And she said she’d buy my book! Gasp! I’m so excited!

So…what I learned yesterday was go NOWHERE without my bookmarks and pass them out to EVERYONE.  (Side note: this Starbucks gets the most eclectic bunch of folks in it that I’ve ever seen…and most of them are wearing some sort of intoxicating colognes or perfumes of some sort.)

ANYway – I am about to put the computer away, and go look for Promo Alley. I’d like to set my stuff up with the SAVVY and the CMP Peeps…we shall see! (Or maybe Promo Alley is in Club RT…hmmm….)

I don’t know why – but it seems easier to talk to other writers here than it does at RWA. Maybe because there are fewer of us here? I just don’t know. But I’m looking forward to today!