Archive for the ‘Social media’ Category

I saw a picture on Facebook the other day of Neil Gaiman. After a Nick Cave concert, the author was sitting in his chair scribbling in a notebook. And, the image really captured my imagination.

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The accompanying article was about creating healthy limits in order to get the writing done, Embrace Your Boundaries

http://writerunboxed.com/2017/02/24/embrace-your-boundaries/

Author Dan Blank, says, ‘I want to share what I have experienced recently in allowing boundaries to be a part of my own creative work. How boundaries have helped the work, instead of hindering it.’

That’s exactly where my thoughts have been. As a writer, I simply wasn’t producing enough copy. In these times of distraction, we have to carve out our own cave.

Towards the end of January, after blogging non-stop for a few years, I took a writer’s hiatus. It really worked for me. I took a break from my blog, Newsletter, and every form of social media (except for a tiny bit of stalking Facebook). I was immediately productive, at least doubling, if not tripling my former output. On the very first weekend I stopped social media, I completely finished an exhaustive edit. I then finished transcribing the edits of my editor and critique partner, Maria Cisneros-Toth.

In fact, it was so successful, I’ve decided to experiment from now on with blogging and putting out the Newsletter less often. I’ll try blogging fortnightly and putting out the Newsletter monthly. We’ll see how that goes.

Maria said at this stage with her books, she always reads them in different media, on her phone, her ipad and so on. Then, she prints out a copy and reads it on paper.

She said, “You’ll pick up lots of errors you hadn’t seen that way.” The funny thing is, in my thirty five years of writing, I’ve never allowed myself luxuries like spending $20 on a copy of a book just to edit it one time. So, this was a complete novelty to me.

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Do you know what? Printing it out was a time saver. It brought many inconsistencies to the surface. That one edit on paper probably saved me three edits on the computer.

It seems everything becomes clear when you read a story on paper. It’s as if the brain processes the material in a different way. I easily noticed repeated words, favoured ways of saying things and errors in sequence of logic.

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Reading aloud is another effective tool in the editing kit.

With my first book, ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta,’ (http://amzn.com/B015K1KF0I) I recorded myself reading to camera. I knew that listening to the prose was a step not to be missed.

For this story, I used a hand-held Sony IC recorder. I read the entire book over three days.

What an incredible tool for editing! It really shows you what’s working and what’s not.

For instance, with dialogue tags, the general rule-of-thumb is you can use ‘said, asked, whispered,’ and, sometimes, ‘added.’ In a number of places in my second book, ‘The Sasori Empire,’ my young hero, Aden ‘added’ something to a conversation. It looked fine on paper, but what a tongue-twister to read! So, if you haven’t read your story aloud yet, you must do so.

When you think about it, this is the litmus test of a story, if you can’t read a story to someone, you’ve failed out of the starting gate.

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At this point, I’d edited the book eight times, Maria, once. Yet, after going through the wringer of printing out and reading aloud, the pages of my paper manuscript were covered in red pen. I was floored by how many changes needed to be made.

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Next job was to sit at the computer and transcribe the changes into Word.

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I had the stack of 227 pages of my corrections as well as a rather wonderful list, ‘things to watch for’ about general issues raised. It helped me ensure I had introduced certain characters properly and had events happening in the right order.

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It requires attention to detail and many hours of dedication to create a book!

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Meanwhile, I’d sounded out my sister, Jag, about being my first beta reader. She agreed, and bless her, two days later the manuscript was returned. This weekend, my job is to transcribe Jag’s edits into the book.

After that, I get to send it to the second beta reader. And so, the process goes on.

I’m more productive by creating social media limits. How about you? Any experiences or advice to share?

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Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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‘Don’t worry about genius and don’t worry about not being clever. Trust rather to hard work, perseverance, and determination.’ ~ Sir Frederick Treves, 1903

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It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

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When the upper-ups at IWSG headquarters decided to bring in the Question of the Month, earlier this year, I admit to not exactly clapping my hands with glee. I opted out at first.

You see, I like to write every post from the point of view of sharing either what’s been going on for me, or what I’ve been thinking, or doing creatively, or experiencing through my kids and my family. As ‘the Question’ was only a suggestion, not a given, I decided to make my own choice as to this blog’s content.

I wanted to remain true to my ideals. Yet, as the year went on, I noticed other #IWSG bloggers I visited always answered the Question. I began to feel like the only kid on the playground, while all the other kids are jostling for elbow-room in the sandpit.

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Long story, short, last month I answered the Question. It was fun. I imagined myself one of the big gun authors being asked a question about my writing career by a newspaper reporter.

December 7, the IWSG Question of the month – In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself five years from now, and what’s your plan to get there?

Great question!

I see myself with the series, The Chronicles of Aden Weaver, finished and published. I see spin-offs from the series, evolving naturally. I can see the books being made into some sort of local production, either theatre or movie, or maybe artwork springing from it, or the series being made into some sort of video game.

I see myself blissful at work on the next book/s.

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Have you heard of making a “vision board?” I saw the idea on an Oprah show back in the day. You create a pictorial poster of what you hope to achieve. I preferred writing down my dreams. I call mine a “wish list.” Each year, on my birthday (which was the day before yesterday) I update my wish list for future dreams and goals. For more than ten years now, at the bottom of each list, I’ve written the same line. “Peter Jackson turns my books into movies.” That’s a big dream, however if we’re talking about what I really want to achieve in five years, then!

My plan to get there is to keep on writing. Write. Write and learn. Learn and write.

I shall also keep on networking, which is a necessity these days, to be active on social media and create an active digital footprint. I’ll carry on blogging, tweeting, putting content on my YouTube channel, and pinning on Pinterest. I’ll keep on building my email list for my *Newsletter and putting out quality content.

(*For Newsletter, e me at yvettecarol@hotmail.com put “Subscribe” in subject line, you will automatically be added to the family!)

I think it’s important now that I have overcome my fear of public speaking to keep up the public speaking to improve my self-confidence levels.

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Then, we come to the most important thing I intend to keep on doing. Those who have known me on the ether for a while will have heard this story before, however, I always find its worth repeating. Back when I was into multi-level marketing, our very wealthy, mega-successful, charismatic leader took me aside one time, to pass on a gem of her wisdom. I remember we were standing in the car-park, after an evening meeting.

She said, she was going to pass on the single most important thing I had to do.

‘I don’t mean just in business, I mean in life. Forget about the money, building a business is not about that. You must think one way and one way only. There is only one thing you need to do. And that is, Spread the Love. Everything you do, everything you say, every action every day, you Spread the Love. That’s all you need to do.’

I really took the message to heart. I went away from that night and I have applied that principle to everything I’ve done since. It works for me.

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Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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‘New Zealanders by nature of our isolation just go ahead and do things our own way. That’s the New Zealand spirit.’ ~ Peter Jackson

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Subscribe to my Newsletter by emailing me with “Newsletter Subscription” in the subject line to: yvettecarol@hotmail.com

 

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After rashly deciding to join in with writing pals, Teresa Robeson http://teresarobeson.wordpress.com/ and Catherine Johnson http://www.catherinejohnson.com/ on the SelfieArt Day challenge seven months ago, I now find myself part of a regular artistic quest to capture one’s own features. An elusive, multi-fold quest.

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For September’s SelfieArt, I used the photograph taken yesterday of my sister and myself, at my nephew’s 21st party.

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I started with a faint pencil outline of my face.

I know – yawn! I admit it. I got started on the SelfieArt challenge, imagining I’d be stomping about in a different medium each month, going buck wild in there. But, something tells me I’m a bit more staid these days than my imagination likes to think I am. I see myself, in my mind’s eye, as a Poppy-Longstockings-Pocahontas, whereas in reality, I’m a mature stay-at-home mama with a slight touch of OCD.

I find myself drawing my SelfieArt each month in plain old HB pencil. Nothing less, nothing more, and going, “That’ll do.” Oh, the complacency of age!

You can see how the challenge of the SelfieArt challenge is multi-fold, because the process continues to be self-revelatory.

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#SelfieArt for September

Done, baby!

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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‘Art is essential to life, it feeds the eyes with the aspirations of life.’ ~ David Prosser

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Here, in New Zealand, media coverage of children’s books is poor. I was particularly interested when a fellow Kiwi author shared this online conversation about the topic of the under-representation of children’s literature in the media.

This was the original “call-to-action:” ‘#CoverKidsBooks invites you to join in a public conversation about children’s books.  Leave a comment, write a blog of your own, or tweet about it using the hashtag.  Tell us why children’s books matter to you, and what you’d like to see the media do to #CoverKidsBooks!’

The research by #CoverKidsBooks showed that children’s books ‘typically got 3% of newspaper review space, despite accounting for over 30% of the market.’

This is a subject close to my heart. *grabs soapbox*

I’ve never been able to understand why children’s books are so greatly undervalued. To me, children’s literature is as important as any other genre. Wake up, world, to the increasing rather than decreasing value of books for our kids! Wake up to the importance  of time spent reading for our children!

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When I was growing up, we were given books as prized gifts on birthdays and Christmases. I can remember poring over each and every tome. They were treasured. The first book I ever received was at seven years old. ‘The Legend of Siegfried’ gripped me so completely, that it started off a lifelong passion for mythology and legendary storytelling.

In the original post, Laura Jackson Warburton commented, ‘I think there is still a massive amount of snobbery about children’s books. Not about one children’s book over another, but people tending to dismiss anything from YA down as ‘only silly stories’.’

Exactly. Why is that? What is this snobbery based on?

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I’ve always been guided by the words of famous author, Nathaniel Hawthorne, in 1853, Children are now the only representatives of the men and women of that happy era (the golden age) and therefore it is that we must raise the intellect and fancy to the level of childhood, in order to recreate the original myths

The part of the CoverKidsBooks conversation to really spark my interest however, was when, in the original post, Emma Perry was asked whether children’s books were important.

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Emma Perry: I think especially in the world today, where we’re bombarded by information and interruption, your relationship with a book is so important. I’d like to encourage my children to have that long-form thought and long-form imagination.

This was the key, I thought.

We, the parents of today’s children, worry greatly about the future awaiting them. We see our kids with their heads buried in their digital games, or, staring at mobile phones. We wonder how they will ever concentrate long enough to hold down a steady job or relationship.

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Maybe that’s why children need to read books these days more than ever before in our history? Because reading helps our modern kids focus their easily-scattered attention for longer periods. Something has to happen to redress the effects of the continuous short-term gratification of playing digital games. Books may just be the cure. Huzzah!

*steps off soapbox*

It’s been proven that reviews and media coverage do sell books. Our children need good quality books, and not just in digital format.

With that in mind, what can we do to raise the profile and image of Children’s Literature?

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Out of all the answers given in the original blog post, I liked the comment by Laura Jackson Warburton.

LJW: Daily book reviews in newspapers, not only of new releases from bestselling authors, but of debut authors and archive titles. A children’s book channel like MTV but with books, grabbing kids’ attention and helping books get into the right hands.  Top 10’s, book bloggers’ reviews, celebrities talking about books, book trailers etc would get kids thinking about books, talking about books in the playground and using pester power to get parents to buy the books!

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Yes. These ideas are great!

Leave a comment, write a blog of your own, or tweet about it using the hashtag.  Tell us why children’s books matter to you, and what you’d like to see the media do!

#CoverKidsBooks – The Facts

#CoverKidsBooks – Booksellers

#CoverKidsBooks – Librarians

#CoverKidsBooks – Teachers

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Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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Any book that helps a child to form the habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him. ~ Maya Angelou

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Subscribe to my Newsletter by emailing me with “Newsletter Subscription” in the subject line to: yvettecarol@hotmail.com

With more of our lives played out online these days, there are new expectations of social interaction. There are experts who tell us rules of “social media etiquette ” or “Netiquette,” as it is known.

To my mind it’s simple. Let’s conjure up some new rules. We’ll call them SimplePimples.

#1 SimplePimple~

Be true to yourself and treat others the way you want to be treated.

The people I interact with online are a community, of whom some are family, some are colleagues, and some are friends. So, I act accordingly. If you make a mistake, ‘fess up, make amends, and apologize. If someone continually makes the same sorts of mistakes with images, or words, or tone towards you on social media, and you don’t get the apology, cut them loose.

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#2 SimplePimple~

The same rules of respect and tolerance we’d show each other face-to-face should apply online.

‘When we “add as a friend” we are entering a relationship based on social norms which are the rules that guide and govern human relationships.’ Kristen Lamb

Exactly!

Why the need to overcomplicate things? When you go to put something on social media, ask yourself if you’d be happy with your boss or your grandparents seeing it. When you communicate and interact with others online, be as polite and respectful as you would be face-to-face. You never know, you may meet these people in person one day and you’ll be glad you were courteous. Normal rules of conduct apply!

It seems that online, when people have a negative thought about what they read or see, they feel entitled to share it with everyone via social media. Why? It’s just what it is, negativity. And we don’t need more of that in our lives.

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‘Why are some people so offended by pictures of food, selfies, flowers, puppies and life’s other simple joys? Some of us appreciate these moments so much so that we want to take a picture of it. If you don’t like it, then scroll on, just as you’re probably overlooking these moments in real life anyway.’ ~ Jenna Wawrzyniec

Personally, my rule of thumb is, if you’re not prepared to say what you’re saying online to the person’s face, then don’t say it. Think of karma – the energy you put out shall return to you in kind – the same applies in the virtual world.

If you take the analogy we are like a group gathered around the cooler, sharing the day’s gossip, then in any and every social gathering of the clan, there will be the occasional bore, the odd case of foot-in-the-mouth, and release of wind. Someone will show photos on their phone you have no interest in seeing. Someone else wants you to watch this clip on YouTube that you’ve ‘just got to see.’ That’s okay.

Everyone expects that. There’s room for everybody at the cooler.

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#3 SimplePimple~

‘Spread the Love’

A long time ago, a beloved mentor of mine in business, said something that has stayed with me ever since. She said, ‘Don’t worry about the sales, or the connections, or the numbers. The only thing you ever need to worry about is to spread the love in everything you do. Every person you meet, every interaction, spread the love.’ She was the most successful and empowered woman I knew. I listened!

Spread the love. Let the rest take care of itself. Each day, I concentrate on my work, and on supporting and encouraging family and friends to the best of my ability. That’s why I adhered to the wonderful Kristen Lamb’s blog and books, and joined her creative hub, Wanatribe, because Kristen’s essential message was ‘We Are Not Alone!’ Kristen is my kind of gal. She advocates we build relationships and have fun doing it. That’s what it’s all about for me.

We understand netiquette is ‘essential in a civilized work environment or personal relationship.’ That’s fine. Most of us are adults and can play nicely around the cooler.

We also are able to lean in a little if someone takes a misstep. Believe it or not, we’re able to give folks the benefit of the doubt. We show a little lenience. If someone tags us into a photo looking the worse for wear, we go un-tag ourselves. We laugh it off. We’re big boys and girls now. No one really cares anyway. If someone tweets about their book constantly, we don’t read them. If someone rabbits on and on about their hot topics, we let them. We scroll on. It’s okay. There’s no need to call them out. No need for a media rant. We keep scrolling. But you’ll get the occasional nutter in any crowd, if they continue to re-offend, cut them off by unfriending or unfollowing.

Pimply Simple.

What are your pet peeves about the rules pertaining to the internet? What do you wish people wouldn’t do on Facebook? Or are you able to ‘scroll on?’

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Pass the donuts.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset. – Saint Francis de Sales

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Subscribe to my Newsletter by emailing me with “Newsletter Subscription” in the subject line to: yvettecarol@hotmail.com

Marketing is a hot topic for writers because everyone wants to know the magic bullet. How do we tweak our approach to nab the most readers?

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One of my favourite writers and bloggers, Chuck Wendig had these sage words to say on the topic of marketing for writers, ‘Self-promotion is a seduction, not a kick in the crotch. It’s a conversation in a smoky bar, not a soapbox-and-a-bullhorn. You wrote a book? Congratulations, but nobody gives a hot cup of shit. Everybody writes books now.’

Working authors know that marketing is one of the gnarliest parts of the business. I read at least a couple of articles on marketing a day. I think for those of us who wish to learn about non-offensive self-promotion for our art, we seek information from trustworthy sources. I’m always seeking the right advisors as I try to develop a marketing model that fits me.

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When I first ventured onto social media, about five years ago, I remember a conversation I had with some other writers over on LinkedIn. In a public forum, a fellow writer commented that he wouldn’t be getting involved with ‘the sales’ of his books. He was ‘the talent,’ and the marketing ‘was the publisher’s job.’

In the past, I believe the authors could leave ‘the sales’ up to the publishing house. Nowadays, a small tier of top authors may exist in the rarefied realm of being “the talent,” however, the number of first-time authors who receive this sort of royal treatment would likely be nil. These days, if you’re an Indie author and self-publish, you will do 100% of the marketing. If you’re published by someone else, be they big or small, you’ll do 95% of the marketing. Either way, the buck stops with you.

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Teacher and digital media advisor, Jane Friedman advises, ‘Before pub day, every author must consider his or her marketing model. What approach builds on the assets you already have, or complements your strengths and is feasible for the readers you currently reach?’

Rather than chasing the magical formula for instant success, Jane gives guidance on how to take the long term approach, here’s a link to the post, ‘Long Term Marketing Models for Self Published Authors,’ by Jane guest posting over on Publishers Weekly: https://janefriedman.com/long-term-marketing-models-for-self-published-authors/  (Thanks to friend and critique partner, Robyn Campbell, who sent it through).

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Marketing for today’s author gets harder by the day, as competition for the reader’s dollar increases. And the “marketplace” is constantly evolving, too, which makes it even more of a challenge to keep up, especially for oldies, like me. There’s no more hiding out in caves or towers for creative types these days. We have to keep our finger on the pulse. ‘It took web-based Goodreads seven years to reach 25 million people. It took mobile-based “whatsapp” three years to hit 200 million users and another two years to reach 500 million,’ said Elizabeth Dimarco

Author, Curtis Sittenfeld, said, ‘By not being active on social media, you’re probably shooting yourself in the foot. That said, faking fluency with or interest in forms of social media that don’t do it for you is much harder than making up dialogue for imaginary characters.’

You can’t fake “fluency” which is why I’ve written numerous posts in the past about following your heart where social media is concerned. You have to do what feels right for you in order to create an authentic Marketing Model that will work for you.

What is your Marketing Model?

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Teacher and author, Bob Mayer relates, ‘I market using . . .Slideshare, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, etc, all from home. I used to not be a fan of book trailers, and while I don’t think they do much direct selling, they increase your digital footprint. And they’re cool.’

Personally, my preferred forms of contact with the world would be via Facebook, my blog, Newsletter, Twitter and Pinterest.

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Social media expert, Kristen Lamb, says in her new book, Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World , ‘Give a writer a marketing gimmick and he’ll sell a few books today. Give a writer the keys to connect to her digital community, and she’ll sell books for life.’

That’s so true. It’s all about making friends as you go; otherwise it’s going to be a tough, lonely journey. I like Kristen’s advice re building community. Whichever way you choose, my belief is you need to stick to doing the things you most enjoy so that you can maintain them long-term.

Here’s my leg-up. I want to share my own humble marketing plan.

I’m sure there are others out there far more extensive. However, I have young boys at home. I haven’t got time to muck around. So if you’re up for a simple Marketing Model, this is the list I made prior to publishing my debut novel, ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta’ last year.

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*Ask for reviews on the inside rear cover of my book

*Book Launch

*Announce launch on Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn/Google+/Pinterest/Goodreads

*Blog tour

*Line up guest posts on other blogs (think, “Adjacent fans”)

*Media page on website

*Make announcement with buy links to mailing list, via newsletter

*Author Page on Goodreads, add my book

*Author Page on Facebook

*Author Page on Amazon

*Launch Page on Slideshare

*Request reviews from reviewers

*Post reviews on website

*Pay for a promotion on BookBub, Beezeebooks, and ShelfLife

*Enrol in KDP Select

The list of possibilities can be endless.

Have you started wrestling with the beast of self-promotion? Any tips to share? Had any horror stories en route to finding your best Marketing Model?

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Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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‘Focus on craft; not marketing and promotion. You can’t promote crap. The best marketing is a good story; better marketing is more good stories.’ ~ Bob Mayer

‘Treat writing like a hobby and you will receive nothing but the fruits of a hobby. It’s a vocation. Honor it as such.’ ~ Owen Egerton

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How to Protect Yourself. Part 2

This follows on from last week’s post, Four Signs they’re Dirty, Rotten Scammers. This is the “after” post for those poor, sucked-in folks like me, who find they’ve been scammed.

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“It’s the Wild, Wild West out there,” said my eldest sister, a lawyer living in London. With her guidance, and a lot of time spent on Google, and the Consumer Affairs website, we figured out how to stop these criminals from taking your details and using them to damage your credit, ‘or in other ways potentially ruining your life’ as my sister put it.

These are the steps you need to take to protect your “personal identity details,” as well as your credit rating.

*Number One:

*Financial:

~ The Bank ~ First and foremost, tell your bank you’ve been scammed.

You need:

*suspension of all internet banking.

* to cancel your credit card.

*to have the spending limit on your card reduced.

* to revamp all your security: to change your passwords and pin numbers, to reset your “security questions and answers.”

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~ Credit Agencies ~

Tell the top Credit Agencies in your country or area that you will need:

*a “suppression on your credit file.” There will be a limit. In NZ, a file can be suppressed for only ten days, in Australia, it’s twenty one days.

This prevents any activity happening within that time, while you sort it all out.

* a “Credit Alert” put on your file. You will get a message every time credit is being accessed by using your details, anywhere in the world. There is usually an annual subscription fee for the service.

*a “Credit Report” each year from the agencies also. This way you can keep watch to make sure no one is out there running up debt in your name.

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*Number Two:

*Technical:

*Take your computer to your nearest local tech guy, for a full scan and virus test.

My bank suspended my online banking until such time as I had proved, by way of showing a receipt for work done, that my laptop had been put through ‘a full scan and virus-testing process, by a professional technician.’

The tech guy found “malware” and viruses had been installed on my computer by the scammers. He removed everything and ‘un-ticked the remote control box.’ Whew. Bad guys, none, me, one!

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*Number Three:

*Online Security:

If you were assisted to sign up for an account with “Western Union,” then get in contact with an actual office of Western Union.

*You need to find out whether you really did sign up for a new account, and if you did, then cancel your sign-up, or “flag it.”

In my case, I did not have an account with them. The “Western Union sign-up form” was bogus as well. It was a device used by the scammers to harvest my “security question” and answer, my bank customer number, credit card details, driver’s licence details as well as the “version date.”

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*Hot Tip: Change your passwords.

I received advice from an “identity protection agency” called IDCare who are based in Australia but have a hotline for New Zealand callers as well. They advised, that you need to go through your entire online presence and change the passwords to every single address.

*you should start by changing your password with Paypal. ‘You need to protect all the portals to your bank balance.’

*Hot Tip: Request a replacement driver’s licence, as you will get a new version number. Once again, stop the bad guys in their tracks, as they will be unable to sign up for new online accounts in your name.

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*Number Four:

*Telephone line Security:

*ask yourself, do you need your landline? Is it anything your mobile couldn’t do?

If you think the cost of only having a mobile for all your calls would be prohibitive, look around. There are really competitive rates these days. Look at “separate plans” not “bundles.” You can get deals on internet and free calls that are more reasonable than the cost of a landline.

These scammers had the cheek to ring me back half a dozen times! The lady at my local Vodafone office said, ‘Scams are never run through mobile phones because they have caller identification. So they’re only ever run via landline.’ I have subsequently had my landline disconnected. Bad guys, foiled!

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If you are keeping your landline, you need to ask your phone service providers:

*to prevent anyone having your number “ported.”

*to increase security around your phone number.

*request to change the “external IB address” with your current provider.

*Hot Tip: An extra benefit you gain by taking these steps is that you have created a “digital footprint,” an online record of who you’ve contacted. If need be, you can quote the report numbers, and show emails and mobile phone records to show you’ve taken every step possible to safeguard your details.

On a personal level, you can rest assured that you’ve socked it to the bad guys where it hurts.

Nat & Phil

*One last Hot Tip: Switch to a wallet which blocks illegal credit card scanners

‘The wallets have aluminum lining which blocks the reading or scanning of the Radio Frequency Identification Chip that’s imbedded in credit cards and passports. It’s called RFID Blocking Identity Card Wallet or Credit Card Holder and they have them in stores or on Amazon. (If a scanner gets very close enough to you, it’s not as effective- so you really need to be wary of people around you.) Gift cards should be placed in them as they can be scanned, too and there is one that is made just for passports.’

Thanks for that tip, Claremary P. Sweeney

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It’s the summer holidays here and yet, I swear I need a vacation!

Have you ever had to battle after being stung by a scammer? Share your stories of what happened below.

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Keep Creating!

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Talk to you later,

Yvette K. Carol

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*For more information, check out the websites, NetSafeScambuster, The Orb

*There are three main agencies in New Zealand: CentrixVeda, and D & B, Ring all three as each agency deals with a different area, like credit cards, online banking, etc.

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An act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. ~ Aesop

p.s. can you help me choose my profile photo?

I don’t know what it is, but for me, I’m always disappointed when I meet someone with whom I’ve been dealing on social media, and they don’t look anything like their picture. There should be a rule about keeping these things up to date. I’m all for glam, and for putting your best foot forward, however I also like to feel when I’m interacting with someone on social media, that their photo should reflect who they are and not someone they were over five years (or more) ago. Let’s call it a personal peeve.

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My current author headshot is five years old. It was taken by my eldest son, so for that reason has always been special. It’s the image I’ve used across every type of social media. However it now needs to be updated.

It’s one of those jobs you put off. I’ve been meaning to do it and putting off for a while. Last week, I shared how I totally flubbed getting a professional author headshot.

I don’t know what it is about having a photo taken, but it always throws me off my game. As soon as I look into the lens and hear the shutter click, I choke. I feel all my insecurities start up like a swarm of bees.

If you’ve ever seen that meme which roamed Facebook for a while, Help, I’m a twenty-five year old trapped in a seventy-five year olds body! That’s how I feel at the moment. I got old all of a sudden. I never thought about that before trying to update my author headshot. You see how dangerous this territory is!

While something of a minefield between author-being-photographed paroxysms of laughing, saying, “wait a minute,” etc, and the poor photographer, my friend, Nykie Grove-Eades, trying to soothe my ruffled feathers by saying lovely things like, “You’re doing really well,” and “Wonderful,” etc, we did somehow manage to coerce a few decent shots out of me.

I immediately felt I should share what I’d learned.

Here are my top three tips for nailing your profile picture shot first time.

p.s. can you please help me choose my author headshot. Which do you like out of the next three?

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Tip One: Shoot in your own environment

If you’re having trouble being able to relax into the shoot in the studio, you can always change the venue to one you prefer. Nykie had the good idea to base the shoot at my house this time, so I was more relaxed. Sitting at my computer in this space is something I do every day. I was immediately relaxed.

Tip Two: Play music that makes you feel good

My friend, blogger and author, Anna Simpson, suggested music. She said that by playing the music she loves and that makes her happy, she is able to relax and get a good shot. I played some tracks of aboriginal meditation music. It’s one of the cds my dear friend, who is a beauty therapist, used to play when she gave me beauty treatments, and other times when we’d talk for ages over dinner. She gave me the cd and it makes me think of our friendship and feel good. Therefore having that music playing in the background helped me get into a calm headspace.

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Tip Three: “Look for something in the camera lens.”

That’s what Nykie told me. She said that children make great photographic subjects because they don’t freeze up like adults do in front of a camera, and, “It’s like they’re looking for something in the camera lens.”

Then she said, “You can look at your own reflection in there.” And I added, that I could look at the beautiful colours that were reflected in the lens, also.

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So, that’s what I did. It sounds comical but I think it gave me something for my overactive mind to do, and from that prompt, we got some nicely focused images.

I think these three shots are the best of the lot. Or, I could go with the black and white versions, more akin to my old profile picture. What do you think?

Which would you pick?

(Thank you!)

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Keep Creating!

Talk to you later,

Yvette K. Carol

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I believe in the discipline of silence and could talk for hours about it. ~ George Bernard Shaw

Two Tips for Introverts on How to get an Author Headshot

We humans are a visual species. The fact is that we do “judge a book by its cover,” and I myself definitely make assumptions about people depending on their profile picture.

I’m having a new website built, to coincide with the upcoming re-launch of my novel, ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta.’ I felt that the time had come to update my profile picture accordingly, as the image I’m currently using is nearly five years old.

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As you climb the ladder in any profession, you want to improve the visual imagery that gets associated with your name. Have you ever noticed, that as a person becomes more rich and famous, their imagery on social media becomes more shiny and glamorous? It’s a natural progression in this day-and-age and it’s called “upping your game.”

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This week, I went along to see a friend who is a professional photographer, to update my author profile picture. This lady is an incredible, new up-and-coming talent in the photography field. But could she get a good photo of me? No.

I’m fine taking a photo of myself—a “selfie”—I’m an introvert, who could I be more comfortable with doing the shoot than me? Yet, for the professional shoot, I found that as soon as my friend raised the camera, I froze up inside completely.

No matter what I did: the deep breathing, the relaxing, the having a laugh in between, the looking away and looking back, every time I looked into the lens I tensed. I have an all-new respect for professional models!

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I should probably explain that I’m an introvert.

I realised it was the first week of the kids going back to school. In the week prior, I’d taken my boys down to visit Grandpa at the beach as well and I hadn’t had any time off for myself in a fortnight.

“Every introvert has a limit when it comes to stimulation.” HuffPost blogger Kate Bartolotta explains it well when she writes, “Think of each of us as having a cup of energy available. For introverts, most social interactions take a little out of that cup instead of filling it the way it does for extroverts. Most of us like it. We’re happy to give, and love to see you. When the cup is empty though, we need some time to refuel.”

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As soon as I saw the images come back from the shoot, and my first thought was, I look tired, I knew that the fault did not lie with the photographer, but with me. As I grow older and get to know myself more, I discover these things along the way.

I learnt a few things from flubbing this shoot. This lesson is for the other introverts out there (and friends). Here are my two top tips for nailing your author headshot.

1: Realize a professional shoot is a challenging situation for an introvert. Do some serious self-pampering with appropriate amounts of solitude in the weeks prior.

According to the book called, The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World by Marti Laney, Psy.D. says only about 25% of the people in the world are Introverts. Laney states that, “Introverts are people who are over-sensitive to Dopamine, so too much external stimulation overdoses and drains them. So for this reason, introverts need less exposure to people, public situations, noise, social events, to gain all the information they need to be able to retreat again and process it.”

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In order to function, I have come to realize that I need to have quality time alone at intervals to recharge. I hadn’t had a break in the two weeks prior to going for my author headshot. Therefore, I was primed to fail.

I had also made the mistake of running around like a headless chicken right up until the moment I drove to the photographer’s house. Then, I expected myself to be able to relax in front of a camera. I failed, go figure!

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2: Right before the shoot, do something peaceful and calming. Give yourself adequate time in the hours prior for quiet whether it be walking, or meditating or whatever relaxes you.

In contrast, this morning, the boys have gone to stay with their father for two days, and I have had time alone. I took a selfie to go with this update. Right away, I noticed the difference in my pictures and those taken for my headshot. In my selfies, after just a few hours alone, the energy was coming back. You live and learn! My wonderful photographer friend and I are going to try a re-shoot this week, after I’ve had some R&R. She said, “Cool lessons hey!?”

Cool indeed. You live and learn.

Has anyone else experienced the same thing of freezing up in front of a camera? What’s the story behind getting your headshot?

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Keep Creating!

Talk to you later,

Yvette K. Carol

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The Zen roshi said, “Life is like getting into a boat that’s about to sail out to sea and sink.”

The launch of my first book at the weekend was a tremendous success. The good vibes and happy feelings continue to ripple outward. This post is for all those who were unable to attend the event in person. Even my close-knit family and best friends were unaware of the ‘whole story’ of my journey so far as a writer. This address was my chance to step out of the shadows of my writer’s cave, and share what it’s taken for me to get this book ready for the world….

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“A dream”

A long time ago, I had a dream of being a writer and publishing a book.

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When you are living the creative life, you carry this little torch inside, of hope that your work will reach the public one day and make a difference. You’ll get to stand up and be counted.

I set a glass ceiling for myself, when I wrote my first novel at the age of 17 that I would get a book deal.

At the age of twenty, I took a writing course. I remember the tutor, Maria, said to me, “Put down your pen, and stop writing. You’re too young. Go out and live your life, then you can write about it.”

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I did my best. I raised my son. I studied fashion design and photography, I managed a bar in town and a drycleaners, among other things. Yet, in my spare time, I was always writing. Sorry, Maria, but I never gave up.

From the time I moved home in my late twenties to live with my parents and work on my fiction, to the time I spent writing on the side-line while raising my children, to writing as an escape from the gruelling anxiety over my boys’ health troubles – steadily working on the craft has ever formed the backdrop of my life. Writing and submitting stories and being rejected a hundred times. Year-after-year, I persevered.

Initially, I wrote chapter books for early readers. Then I moved on to writing and illustrating my own picture books. I have a number of beautifully-painted manuscripts stacked in boxes underneath my desk from those days.

That book deal, you see, was proving elusive.

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In 2005, I attended a children’s writing workshop with Kate de Goldi. Kate challenged me to decide what I was, an illustrator or a writer. She wanted me to choose a path.

I chose writing. I stopped illustrating then, not out of slavish abeyance but because I really felt in my bones she was right. And looking back, I realise I needed to do just that. It’s a powerful thing to pinpoint ones focus.

In that workshop of 2005, Kate asked us to write non-stop for a regular period each day. To my surprise, I found I was writing a novel for 9-13 year olds. I didn’t have to worry about continuity. Every time I picked up my pen, the story would carry on from where it left off. The story flowed, and the characters that came out in this fully-formed world were the same insects who had peopled my picture books, but they were slightly older.

I wrote every night after the kids were in bed, from then on, and for the next few years. I ended up with a vast epic, The Chronicles of Aden Weaver, which I chopped into three. ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta’ is the first book in that trilogy.

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Then, I ventured into the world of social media. I started my online group, “Writing for Children,” and my American friends encouraged to set up a website, to start my own blog and to join with writing partners and online critique groups.

Because the development of this book was done through critique and endless rounds of edits with my American friends, the terms, the spelling, everything gradually evolved, and what started out as a fantasy adventure firmly rooted in an alternate NZ became a story more and more suited for the American market, making this story a rare hybrid.

When I finished work the first time on this book, I sent it to acclaimed kiwi author, Fleur Beale, for her assessment. She said, ‘Excellent story, but lose the insects!’

I couldn’t lose the insects because it was the fact that The Chronicles of Aden Weaver was set in this microscopic world that made it so unique and interesting. However I came up with a new concept – of making the characters shape-shifters – able to move between human and insect form.

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Eighteen months later, after a major overhaul of the script, I met Frances Plumpton, NZ representative of The Society of Children’s Writers and Book Illustrators. I gave the Tane Mahuta novel to her to assess. I’ll never forget what she said. “Every writer has that book in their bottom drawer that should never see the light of day. This is that book.”

My next writing partner was an author and musician. He said, my story “went clunk” and “sounded like the equivalent of riding over cobblestones on a horse.” His advice was scrap the whole thing and start again. And so it went on. The knocks in this business are legendary.

In fact, there’s a wonderful site, called literary rejections dot com where I discovered I was not alone. To name a few, Louisa May Alcott, who wrote Little Women, was told Stick to teaching.” Richard Bach, author of Jonathon Livingston Seagull was told, Nobody will want to read a book about a seagull.” L. Frank Baum was told, The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz, was Too radical of a departure from traditional juvenile literature.”

Thankfully those authors didn’t listen to the naysayers! And neither did I….

Though a couple of years ago, I went through yet another crushing defeat that did stop me in my tracks for a minute. I had submitted this book to an international contest for the prize of publication. I didn’t hear back from them. Then, on their website, the organizers said, those who don’t hear back are the finalists. Whoopee! This was cause for great jubilation! Until upon further enquiry, I discovered that not only had I not made it to the finals, but the organisers had not received the manuscript at all, due to my fatal error in calculating the time difference between countries.

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In my mind, I had thought I was this close to breaking through that glass ceiling. Instead I was back at square one. AGAIN. Devastated, I fell into a black hole that lasted for seven days.

At the end of that week, I got a phone-call. I heard my mother’s voice. She said, “The darkest hour always comes before the dawn. You may think all is lost right now, but it isn’t. This is just the start of great things opening up for you. You’ll see!”

Ma, I always hoped you’d be here for this, and yet I know you’re here in spirit.

Even though my mother was failing in her later years, she always knew when to ride in on the silver horse!

I have to thank my parents for so much. I know that my journey to publication has been a long and winding road. And yet mum and dad still believed.

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When, as a writer you feel everything is taking too long, and the frustration mounts, there’s this expectation of you and yet you’re not delivering, you could literally wallpaper your house with the rejection letters – you actually do need more than financial assistance to keep going sometimes, you need love. My parents gave me both.

Thank you to my father for driving up from Rotorua just to be here today. Thank you to those who have postponed personal milestones to help me celebrate mine. To you I say I am humbly grateful. Thank you to my friends for your patience, for putting up with me when I miss all the get-togethers, or on the rare occasion I do show up, that I’m always the first to leave. Thank you, Simon, for bringing Aden Weaver to life. I really appreciate you all being here to help me mark this moment, this crossing of the threshold. I am sure a great many of you – don’t worry I don’t need a show of hands – had begun to wonder if I’d ever publish anything. You might have been forgiven for wondering if this day would ever come.

The only reason this day is here now is because I stopped waiting to be picked up by a traditional publisher. Along the way, I had realized my glass ceiling was holding me down. So I let it go. I let the dream of a book deal go, but I didn’t let go of the book, nor the insects, nor the vision of how I wanted it to be. The dream is still alive in a new form, and it’s even better, I have total creative control.

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One of my writing tutors, Bob Mayer, once said, “Failure is the start point for future success.”

Hugh Howey had ten novels in print before he published “Wool” which became a big hit. The estate of Jack London, the House Of Happy Walls displays some of the 600 rejections he received before selling a single story.

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In other words, the only thing that separates the published from the unpublished author is deep determination and a touch of insanity. Lucky for me, I’m endowed with both.

It was Sir Winston Churchill who once said, “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.”

By those standards, I’ve been WINNING for the last 33 years!
A long time ago, I had a dream…of being a writer and publishing a book. Today that dream has become a reality! Thank you for being here with me to witness this moment.

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Keep Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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Awaken to the brilliance in ordinary moments. Tell the truth about yourself no matter what the cost. Own your reality without apology. Be bold , be fierce, be grateful. Be gloriously free. Be You. Go now,and live” Jeanette LeBlanc.