Will the Best Troll Stand Up

Social Media is becoming an unbearable world of non-sense.

I don’t care if it’s some nut head filling my feed with their loose weight now solutions, a new author who took bad advice and is blasting the “Buy my book” tweets 100 times in an hour, or if the President creates a new word:  covfefe

Lately Social Media is just utter Crap.

There I said. But why…? I mean when you stop and think about it, what is the purpose of social media? To socialize with a virtual presence? To have fun? To make a difference?

I pretty much ignore everyone’s advice on social media strategies partly because I think most of them are crap and fail to touch on the most important thing: Just be yourself.

We live in a world right now where everyone has an Opinion, everyone has an idea, everyone wants and needs to be heard.

The problem is: Most don’t know jack crap about what they are talking about. As a result arguments are started and people get offended and / or bullied. Yes- the number one source of Fake News is people talking on Facebook.

I tend to (TRY) and stay away from most discussions on politics, social justice, and / or culture in general. But that’s me… I think it’s complete non-sense to try to change the world behind an A.I. social system.

But where do you fit…? Maybe you see things differently. Maybe you think this world needs more loud mouths acting like a bunch of clowns. That’s cool. Have at it. Maybe I’m in the minority and wrong. So be it… And yes I know there is a difference between standing for principles and being an utter jerk. So chill out before you get to hot.

You see, I once had a dream that their was a serial killer that had a group of seven people held hostage in a basement. Unfortunately only one of the seven could survive. How did he determine this- He gave them each an iphone equipped with all the best social media apps they needed and he said, “Go Troll.” Then he smiled, and said. “May the best troll win.”

Part of me wonders if that’s not somewhat true. After all- Would you type that comment, that tweet, if someone weren’t holding a gun to your head? The ironic thing is. Sometimes it’s our own worst half holding the gun, whispering- “You deserve to be heard.”

Hmmm. I don’t think it’s a question of if you deserve to be heard, but in the moment, while angry, or emotional- Do people really need to hear from you. Because to be honest: There isn’t much of a difference between trolling, and having an emotional overloaded social presence.

So the next time you’re online- Be something different: Be real, be you… Not the worst part of you.

Twitter isn’t Dead- Stop Ignoring It

twitter isn't dead
I heard someone the other day tell someone else to ignore twitter: It is a dead platform. Ignore it. REALLY??? I work in marketing for a living, and believe it or not- Twitter is’t dead. Sure it’s had its ups and downs, but so has facebook.

We get in the habit of believing all sorts of nonsense simply because a headline looks attractive.

Authors- Don’t ignore twitter: Because it is not dead. The issue is- People are just to lazy to sit down and learn how to figure it out.

The problem that most folks have with twitter is they don’t understand what makes it work. You see, you can’t use the same voice on twitter as you do on other platforms. Finding the right personality and voice takes time- So no, it isn’t dying- It’s just misunderstood.

One of the biggest mistakes authors make with social media is the belief that social media exist to share your book. Listen, people don’t come to twitter to buy your book. So stop tweeting the never ending tweets that do so. SHARE IT- But don’t over populate my feed.

Instead: Connect, Connect, and Connect. It’s called Social Media for a reason. Earn people’s trust, start conversations, retweet people, and please work to provide valued content.

Every major general market Spec Author I know uses twitter. Follow Sam Sykes,  Chuck Wendig,  John Scalzi,  Brent Weeks, Joe Hill, Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, Robin Hobb, Christopher PaoliniBrandon Sanderson... Find out what they are doing and why…? Do they cater to themselves, their fans, or the things they are passionate about. You will notice politics, writing advice, and some just having fun- Just learn and decide what kind of digital footprint you want to leave.

But above all else: Always remember- Just be you… You are your Brand.

Writers Lie

Writers flipping lie, man. We lie all the stinking time. We make stuff up and sell it. That’s fiction. We’re good at it. Call it creative thinking call it whatever the heck you want. We lie.

I’ve told some big lies growing up. The dog did it, my brother did it, aliens did it. Lies, lies, lies…

But you know what else I’ve discovered about writers- We Lie to ourselves more than anyone.

I know what your thinking- I don’t lie to myself. Listen, if you said that- You just lied to yourself.

Imagine there is this magical ring of manure circling your head. Every time you lie to yourself a small piece falls. But you can’t wash it away- It stays there, stuck to your skin. Eventually, you walk around covered in manure and realize you missed out because you believed a bunch of GARBAGE about yourself and your writing that wasn’t even true.

Publishing is tough. I know. I’ve been there. Still am. I’ve had countless short stories rejected, been told I couldn’t write, and even had a mom email me mad because she thought my story “My Friend Louie” was a twisted piece of evil… (That’s a bit true: It is a mangled up twisted bit of evil told in a Raw Memoir style about a troubled teen with a psychological disorder who believes his baseball bat is talking to him: Now Go Buy My Book)

But I’ve lied to myself, so many times it’s held me back in what I want to accomplish.

So here they are- In no particular order- Lies we writers tell ourselves. I’ve told these all to myself.

1) I just write for myself- It doesn’t matter if I get published. 

Oh come on, don’t tell me that. I use to say that as well. Until I had a short story published and wondered aloud- I hope someone is buying it..? Do they like it…? What do they think of it…? Writers write to be read. Sure there is the hobbyist, but those are rare- The very act of writing a story is for the purpose of communication.  Saying you only write for yourself is like Jesus saying: I’m going to tell a parable, but it’s only for myself. You write to be read.

2) I don’t have time.

Seriously…? You’re going to tell me that…? I have a full-time job where I’m a senior level executive in a very Busy Marketing Company. I’m involved in church. Have two of the most insane Toddlers. And a wonderful wife. I eat right; I work out daily, I read, watch TV, and still manage to write. Life is about Balance. It’s tough to find because it means sacrifice. Do I get stressed- You bet. Do I get mad and bark at my kids- Sure. Do I forget to tell my wife what she means to me- Yes. I fail. But I have time to do all those things which are important plus write. You have time to write. Turn off Netflix, Hulu, put the book away, tell your friends no, stop sleeping in, and write. 15 minutes a day. 30 minutes a day. Doesn’t matter- Just Write. I always tell people when they can’t find time to work out, read their Bible, or write, then they need to do those things in 25-minute increments. Why…? Because 25 Minutes is only 1% of your day. You can find 1%…

3) I don’t care if it sells.

Oh please, YES YOU DO!!! I don’t know of a single writer who hasn’t checked his / her Amazon rankings. Maybe Stephen King – But he is the exception to the rule. But if you haven’t crashed the Big Bestseller List, then you check them… Trust me- I know. Saying you don’t care if it sales is like my boss saying “J.J. – If this campaign doesn’t work, it’s alright.” We pour a lot of time, creativity, and money into our campaigns. They better work. And if they don’t-  (Trust me- Some haven’t) we have to find out why and fix it.

4) I don’t care if I get Bad Reviews.

Listen, bad reviews come and go. I got one because it was to Christian. Another one said I was evil (The Mad Mommy). Your story isn’t going to connect with everyone. That’s a fact. And in my case some won’t understand your voice. But you care, believe me. You do. You know how many times someone has asked me to vote down a bad review. (Don’t do that by the way- More likely I’ll vote it up) People don’t like to be criticized. They don’t like to see something that they pour time, effort, and energy into. Even if what the reviews are saying are true- We care. I get nervous anytime my wife reads my work- I get anxious when I email a story to a critique partner.  You care, and other writers understand. So pour out your frustration to those who can relate- Stop keeping it locked inside because you want to pretend you can handle it.

5) I have to work at building my platform before I can write a book- That away it sells. 

Here is the issue with this. If you spend all your time trying to build your platform, what are you going to say/sell when you step up on that platform. If you’re writing nonfiction and building your brand through blogging- You may be able to get away with this. But a fiction writer- Dude, just write the blasted book. I believed this lie for a long time. Partly because I work in Marketing and it’s branded within my mind. Platform/ Branding- Worry about that junk later. Right now just write. Imagine if a young new man came into your town- Passed out flyers, had a booth at a local health fair, and was telling everyone “I’m opening a new family practice. My name is Dr. Boo.” What would we ask him? Well, where is it…? When does it open…? What kind of insurance does he accept…? What would you do if his response was this: “Well, it’s not open yet. I still have to finish med school then do my residency. But, it’s coming soon.” Most of us are going to laugh, move along, and forget about him. The 4 P’s to Marketing are Product, Place, Price, and Promotion. But you have to have a product first… The horse is your story- The cart is your brand and platform- Go write.

6) I don’t listen to writing experts- They don’t know what they are talking about.

Well, chances are you won’t make it – Or here’s is a news flash – Maybe your listening to the wrong expert. If you are writing Science Fiction, you probably don’t want to always listen to the industry advice of someone that only sells cookbooks. I would even recommend finding experts in the genres you write in. Sure a lot of the industry news is across all genres. But agents that sell only Romance more than likely don’t know much about the Science Fiction market. There are a few great agents that crossover- But still- Sci-fi fans are a different brand of cookie. I don’t think anyone writing Romance would  come to me and say, “Hey, you got any marketing tips.” I would be clueless. One, I don’t read the genre, so I’m not in the target market, and Two, I don’t have a clue what makes Romance readers click. I just don’t. It’s a great genre with great writers but don’t ask me how to fix your plot holes because I’m  clueless when it comes to mainstream Romance. (Both in fiction and in life). There are writing experts out there in your genre- Find them- Listen to them- And learn from them…

7) Writing is too expensive- I can’t do this. 

Man Shazam!!! This is the biggest freaking whopper of them all. Writing is cheap. Just grab a pen and paper and go to work. Publishing is expensive. Editing is expensive. Cover design, advertising, and writers conferences are expensive. Storytelling- Is the cheapest hobby there is. Write it on a chalkboard, on a note card, or draft it on a used tea bag. Just write. Click to Tweet

8) No one is publishing my genre- It doesn’t seem to be salable. 

That isn’t quite as accurate as many think. The big publishers may not be publishing many titles in your genre- But that doesn’t mean small presses aren’t. Don’t be afraid of a small press. They are out there- And some good ones too. Remember,  Bloomsbury was a small, well-respected, independent publisher. They were the only publisher willing to take on a children’s book called: Harry Potter. Look what happened. 

I write this post mainly to me. I’m guilty of all these things- And I’m guilty every day. I have virtually no success as an author. Zero, zilch, zip… But I understand what holds me back. I lie to myself. I’m sure what I say seems arrogant, brash, even a bit pompous.

The truth is I get irritated by people that make excuses- Why? Because I hear them all day long, and normally, I’m the one making them.

 

 

Good Stories

I like quick addictive reads. They are fun, exciting, and enjoyable. Some people read to get a deeper meaning out of life, to learn a deep truth- I read for enjoyment.

There are different styles of readers, so whichever you are is fine. However, on both sides, I have found that Dean Koontz story structure method is a formula they all share.

From his out of print How to Write Best Selling Fiction (Writer’s Digest Books), © 1981. I first learned of this on Jerry B Jenkins Blog. Below is how Jenkins summarized it.

  1. Plunge your main character (lead/hero/heroine) into terrible trouble as soon as possible.

The definition of “terrible trouble” differs depending on your genre. For a thriller, it may mean your hero is hanging by his fingernails from a railroad trestle. For a cozy romance, it may mean your heroine must choose between two seemingly perfect suitors, each of whom harbors a dark secret.

2. Everything your character does to get out of the trouble makes it only worse.

The complications must be logical and grow increasingly bad until…

3. The lead’s predicament appears entirely hopeless.

4. Finally, because of what all that conflict has taught the character from the beginning, your lead rises to the occasion and battles out of the trouble, meets the challenge, accomplishes the quest, or completes the journey.

The Quiet

The Quiet: Have you practiced it lately? As creative we are naturally drawn to live in the shadows due to our introverted nature. But life doesn’t quite give us the solitude we need.

From the demands of day to day activities, trying to be a good parent, a good spouse, keeping up with social media, building platforms, cramming for a deadline, reviewing books, etc- We lose sight of the one thing we need from time to time- Silence.

Have you tried it lately? Find 24 minutes if you can- Read your Bible- Journal- Sit in silence and pray.

24 Min is only 1% of your day.