On Using #Hashtags

Do you even know where to start? Or what words or phrases you should be using the hashtag to increase #traffic?

  1. The number one rule to follow when using hashtags, do not overuse them ever. The rule of thumb is to use only two in relevant twitter tweets, and no more than three in blogs. We all know that Google does not like spam and if you use to many hash symbols you can be penalized for spamming both on twitter and on Google.
  2. Hashtags are used to categorize relevant words in tweets and posts. All you have to do is put the hash symbol # before the word with no spaces.
  3. When users click on hashtagged words, he or she may find the rest of the tweet or post.
  4. When users search for a hashtagged word he or she will come across tweets and posts that he or she may not have come across with just a regular search.
  5. Now this is very important. Hashtagged words usually do end in the trending section of twitter. So if you want your post to go viral then you need to use the hash symbol before those words that are most likely to be searched for in the search box.
  6. It is important that the hash be used only with relevant information.
  7. If you want to gain more followers and improve your reputation then you had better get used to using the hash symbol on each and every relevant post or tweet.
  8. All relevant phrases should be short. It is best to just hashtag one word as opposed to a whole phrase. Users searching are more likely to be searching for the hashtagged word.
  9. Always try to use relevant hashtagged words. You can do a quick search for words that have been tagged with search.twitter.com. If you notice that there are relevant words and conversations that come up, you may want to use a word to tag similar to the one used.
  10. Be careful of how you use hashtags. Make sure you are not offending anyone and not making erroneous mistakes online. Twitter will not tolerate any hashtag abuse. Here are the rules about using hashtags from twitter. You can find this at http://www.hashtags.org/platforms/twitter/why-use-hashtags-guide-to-the-micro-blogging-universe/

 

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Volunteers Needed…

We are in need of volunteer reader/editors for the PTP Book Division. Be the first to read and evaluate new submissions of our fiction and nonfiction departments (you choose which you’d rather read). We do not publish pornography or other sexually explicit material. Our fiction is multi-genre; our nonfiction is geared toward environmental and social science issues. If interested, please contact Mary Nickum at ptpbookdivision@pathtopublication.net

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Basic Rules for Writers

Are there simple basic rules for all writers? I’ve been asked that question many times. There are books written to help writers write. Some are very good. The Chicago Manual of Style and A Handbook for Scholars are invaluable resources. Others are grammar books, which are useful but don’t get to the “nitty-gritty” of what is really required of a writer who wants to make a living writing. These rules are made by writers for writers and are meant to be encouraging as well as instructive.

Rule No. 1 Determination

Determination is the quality of being determined to do or achieve something; resoluteness. You must first make a decision to write. This sounds simple enough. Most writers have made that decision. But, there is more to it than just deciding to write. What to write and how are next. The decision of what to write is based partially on your knowledge. Most writers who are knowledgeable about fishing will be unwilling to tackle an article about the development of cancer tumors. Determination must be tempered by knowledge. The often repeated writer’s adage, “write what you know,” is applicable here.

Resoluteness, however, is a useful word when discussing determination. To make your resolve tangible, set goals. These points will assist you in your goal-setting exercise:

  • Be specific about what you want to achieve. Instead of saying ‘I want to finish an article by Fall’ state ‘my article: Fishing in the Arctic will be completed by October 1, including all editing and photography’.
  • Break this goal into smaller chunks…’baby steps’ of say 500 words per day. Be sure to schedule work with photographs concurrently.

Not taking this step leaves you wide open to missing your deadline. Giving yourself an achievable goal means you are more likely to reach it. The results must be measurable, otherwise how do you know you’ve achieved what you set out to do?

  • Is the goal attainable? Don’t set your sights too high. Always work within your own abilities, otherwise you will become disheartened. Keeping ahead of your goal allows for all those ‘life’ situations that you may, and probably will, encounter.
  • Always give yourself an end date. This gives you a specific time-frame in which to work.

If you are resolved to write a quality piece, which most writers are, you have observed the first rule for writing.  Your written goals will provide you with a ‘roadmap’ for the next rule.

Rule No. 2 Discipline

            The second rule is harder than you think. Writing requires discipline. Most writers’ advisors say “write something everyday.” It doesn’t have to be submission quality. Writing a letter to your son or daughter away at college, writing in a blog or writing ideas for future stories all count for this task. The main idea here is to cultivate a regimen for daily work. Make time to write. This can be difficult if you have a full time job that is not writing related. If evenings and weekends are the only available time, other family commitments must be taken into account. Look to writers’ blogs to exchange ideas as to how other writers have accomplished this seemingly insurmountable feat.

Writer’s block is a well known malady for writers. If you just can’t get to the next paragraph or sentence. Take a break, if that doesn’t help, listen to your favorite music or change writing venues. Try a coffee shop or a library. Having resources close at hand might help, too.

Rule No. 3 Focus

            A writer must focus. If you jump from one topic of interest to another several times when writing a story, the outcome will appear jumbled and without direction. The same is true if you attempt to write while personal issues are distracting you. No writer can do his/her piece justice when struggling with unrelated issues.

Here are three questions to answer to help you focus:

  1. Who is the intended audience/reader of my piece?
  2.  What is the single most important point of my piece?
  3.  If the reader thought about my piece one week after reading it, what would their dominant impression/recollection would be?

Summary

             After deciding to write, you must decide what to write; then, set a writing schedule for yourself. Make sure that your goals are attainable. Writing takes discipline. You should write something every day. If you have a chosen topic and a deadline goal, work toward that goal. If there are days when you can’t work on your piece, write something anyway. When setting out to write, be sure you can focus on the job. Don’t let yourself be distracted by outside events or demands. Scheduling and adhering to that schedule will help you to produce a piece within the designated timeframe. Determination, discipline and focus will give you tools to produce a quality piece.

 

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Speaking Tips for Writers

  1. Make your introduction brief. Like less than 30 seconds. If someone introduces you, skip the introduction completely, because you were just introduced. There’s nothing that stalls a presentation or performance more than a two or three minute monologue before getting into the “meat” of things.
  2. Use the podium. If there is a podium or table, use it to hold your materials. Sometimes we shake when we read (even if we’re not nervous, though especially if we are), and we shake more if we become conscious of our own shaking.
  3. Use the microphone. If there’s a mic, use it. Sure your voice might carry without one, or you may have to fiddle with it a moment to adjust for your height, but people in the back can hear better when your voice is amplified. Trust me on this.
  4. Encourage audience interaction. When performing poetry, this means you can allow an audience to clap if they choose to clap. When giving a presentation, let the audience know whether it’s appropriate to ask questions as you present or if you’ll have a Q&A after the presentation is complete. Then, make sure there is a Q&A.
  5. Act confident. You might be terrified, but try not to let it show on the outside. To accomplish this, stand tall. Speak with conviction. Make eye contact. Most importantly, don’t apologize. While you may know when you’re making mistakes in front of an audience, many of them are probably unaware.
  6. Be organized. If you’re giving a presentation, have talking points ready to go before the presentation. If you’re reading poems (or from a fiction/nonfiction book), have your selections planned out before you hit the stage. The audience will be uncomfortable and frustrated if you spend time paging through your book to find the correct passage.Organization goes a long way in how the audience perceives you and how you perceive yourself.
  7. Slow down. This is an important tip, because many people automatically start talking fast, especially if they know they’re on the clock. I try to remember to breathe and pause in appropriate places. Nothing awkward, just long enough to allow my audience to digest what I just said. A pregnant pause may be useful but use sparingly.
  8. Make personal, add humor. Be careful with humor. Sometimes your jokes will not be personal. Sometimes your personal stories will not be humorous. Sometimes the stars will align and both will coincide, and that’s when you’ll engage your audience the most. While I advise humor and personal anecdotes, make sure they have context in your presentation.
  9. Stop before you’re asked to leave. There’s something to the thought of leaving the audience wanting more. Know your time. Wear a watch. And end a little early (like a minute or two). If the audience feels like the presentation or performance went by fast, they’ll attribute it to your great speaking skills. Don’t drone on…
  10. Provide next steps and/or a conclusion. Depending on why you’re speaking, you should have some kind of suggestion for your audience. Maybe it’s to buy your chapbook or applaud the hosts. Maybe it’s to put some of your advice into action immediately. If you’re presenting a topic, it’s a good idea to sum up all the main points before sending your audience back out into the world.

One bonus tip: Provide handouts. Whether you’re reading poetry or leading a workshop on business management, handouts are a great way to let your audience have something tangible to take away with them. Your handouts should be helpful and relevant. They should also include your name and contact information, including your website or blog url. (Yes, it’s a sneaky good marketing tool.)

Just remember, speaking is an activity. Most activities are hard to master unless you practice. So get out there and speak and realize that you’re going to make mistakes early on. That’s part of the learning process. Just dust yourself off and get out there again.

 

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Foreshadowing, a Useful Writing Tool

First, foreshadowing is hard, and it’s a tricky concept to grasp which doesn’t help matters. This should help you overcome this struggle.

So what is foreshadowing?

Simply put, foreshadowing is like “clues/hints” put in place BEFORE an event happens or information is revealed. So, when you reveal a plot twist to the reader it allows them to look back at these “clues/hints” and say, “Oh, so that’s what that meant. This is what this was leading up to. I see now, this makes sense.” They will then accept your plot twist as plausible and logical.

Another way to think of it is that foreshadowing is as the “evidence” behind a plot twist. When you drop a plot twist on a reader they will look back to find “evidence” of where it came from and why it makes sense. Your foreshadowing is “proof” that the plot twist is believable.

If you DON’T foreshadow it causes the reader to feel confused or cheated and doubt your abilities as an author. You don’t want something to come out of

 

 

nowhere. For example, if halfway through your story your hero falls off a

cliff and suddenly discovers she can fly, it will seem random to the reader.

BUT if you place hints/clues throughout the story leading up to this moment that the hero has this hidden ability they don’t know about, then when they discover they can fly, the reader will accept it as plausible because they can look back and see the “evidence” from the foreshadowing that supports this plot twist.

The second important thing about foreshadowing is that it’s extremely difficult to do in your first draft. You know how hindsight is 20/20? The same goes for foreshadowing. It is almost impossible to foreshadow plot twists properly until the entire story is written. Then, when one can look back at everything leading up to a plot twist, one can weave in necessary hints/clues in later drafts.

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Now Available…

Ezra’s Story; Saving Canis lupus

Raymond Greiner

List Price: $11.95
5″ x 8″ (12.7 x 20.32 cm)
Black & White on White paper
130 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1548658595 (CreateSpace-Assigned)
ISBN-10: 1548658596
BISAC: Fiction / Action & Adventure

The historical development of the human species has impacted our world with numerous changes, which have altered natural ecological formats beyond what could have been perceived during ancient human history. Humanity has inundated the Earth with such vastness it has caused disarray and loss of natural balance among what are viewed as lesser beings. The terrestrial non-human life forms have been challenged to adapt to the ubiquity of human imposed negative influences. Wolves have been an earthly presence for nearly a million years functioning the same as they do currently. Wolf and human character traits are amazingly similar. Ancient human hunter-gatherer civil design formed and operated exactly like we observe present day wolves. Tribes were small in number, socially connected, and completely reliant on unity and harmonious function installed as a means of survival. The wolf pack is a perfected uniform social order and these wolves are among the most adaptable planetary organisms. They function and survive in the harshest climates and remain a presence especially in high latitudes. I was inspired to create a story displaying the importance and necessity of predators like wolves to be allowed opportunity to continue as a viable species. Ecological balance is dependent on predatory animals as a means to gain longevity. Natural science has only recently truly understood the importance of wolves in the arctic and other remote regions of the world. It’s a hope as the human species confronts its future wolves will be included.

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Writing Nonfiction

Eight preparatory steps necessary to successfully write a nonfiction book.

  1. Choose your topic.

The first thing you want to do as you prepare to write a nonfiction book is choose a topic for your project carefully. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it really isn’t.

  1. Create a Content Plan

Create an outline or a table of contents for you book. This ends up looking like a table of contents—actually a rather detailed table of contents with chapter titles and subheading titles. You might prefer to just create a simple outline or a bulleted list.

Whatever your method of choice, create something that looks like the structure of a book—a table of contents. And know what content will fill that structure as you create your manuscript. That’s your map.

Then, when you sit down to write each day, you know exactly what to write. In fact, the more detailed you make this plan, the more quickly and easily you will write your book. You will spend little time staring at your computer screen wondering what to write or what comes next. You will know. It will be right there in your writing plan. You’ll just follow the map—your table of contents—to your destination.

  1. Determine What Research You Need

You might think you can write your book “off the top of your head” because you are the expert on the topic. Inevitably, though, you will discover a need to search for something—a URL, a quote, the title of a book. These things can slow down your process. This is where preparation can help keep your fingers on the keyboard typing rather than perusing the Internet.

For each item in your plan—or your detailed table of contents, brainstorm the possible research you need and make note of it.

As you write, if you discover you need more research or interviews, don’t stop writing. Instead, create brackets in your manuscript that say [research here] and highlight them in yellow. Later, do a search for the term “research,” and fill in the gaps.

  1. Create a To-Do List

Look over your content plan. Take all the research items you listed and put them on a to-do list.

Make a list of URLs, books and articles to find. Look for anything you need to do. For instance, does your research require that you visit a certain location? If so, put “Visit XX” on the to do list.

Don’t forget to put interviews on this list. You want to conduct your interviews now.

  1. Gather and Organize Your Materials

Gather as much of your research and other necessary material as you can prior to the end of October. Purchase the books, copy the articles into Evernote.com, copy and past the URLs into a Word doc, or drag them into Scrivener’s research folder, for instance. Get your interviews transcribed as well—and read through them with a highlighter, marking the quotes you think you want to use.

If you are writing memoir, you might want to gather photos, journals and other memorabilia. If you are repurposing blog posts, or reusing any other previously published or written material, you want to put all of this in one place—an online folder, a Scrivener file or a Word file.

Generally, get as much of what you need to write your book in an easily accessible format and location so you aren’t searching for it when you should be writing. Use piles, boxes, hanging folders, computer folders, cloud storage…whatever works best for you.

  1. Determine How Much Time You Need

Each nonfiction book is different and requires a different amount of time to write. A research based book takes longer to write, for example, because you have to study, evaluate and determine your opinion of the studies. You have to read the interviews you conducted, choose appropriate quotes and then work those quotes into your manuscript.

If, on the other hand, you write from your own experiences, this take less time. With the exception of drawing on anecdotes, an occasional quote or bit of information from a book, the material all comes from your head. You need only sit down and write about a process you created, your own life story or your area of expertise.

  1. Create a Writing Schedule

Last, create a writing schedule. You now know how much time you need to write your book. Now find those hours in your calendar and block them off. Make those hours sacred.

  1. Put a Back-Up System in Place.

Yes…this is my last tip, because you just never know what happens. Your computer crashes or dies. You accidentally delete your whole manuscript. Your child dumps milk all over your keyboard.

You want a back up of your project. Always save it to your computer’s drive and onto a thumb drive or, better yet, into the cloud, for safe keeping! Make these plans in advance as well. You can use Evernote.com, Dropbox.com or Google Drive, for example.

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