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Guest Post and Giveaway: Tamara Holland

Update, Winner Announced:  The winner of Tam's book is…..Alexia Stevens!  Alexia, I will give your name to Tam and she will make arrangements to get you the book!

It is my privilege to introduce you to my wonderful cyber-friend Tam Holland!  She and I met on Twitter over a conversation about raisins.  Yes, raisins.  Rumor had it that eating raisins before bed prevented trips to the bathroom.  Anyway, we've been buds ever since we debated that notion (I still claim it works).  And once we discovered we each had a granddaughter about the same age, our friendship was sealed.  And here's the exciting part–she has a new book out!  It is historical fiction of the sort you've likely never read before and is already getting rave reviews. And…..drum roll….we have us a giveaway!  Tam has agreed to give a copy of the Ebook to one lucky reader.   So read her brilliant thoughts on Twitter and I'll give you details of the giveaway at the end. 6 Reasons Writers Need Twitter TamHolland

by Tamara Holland

I got on Twitter in 2011. Reluctantly.  Up til then, I'd been looking cynically, judgmentally, unfavorably upon all of social media.

Since then?

I've sent nearly 60,000 tweets.

Why?

Because Twitter rocks for writers.  Here are six big ways it does.

1.  Immediate support, instead of delayed rejection.

This is the thing that grabbed me first and hooked me instantly. Twitter is responsive, immediate, interactive.  How much better does that feel to writers than what we've done traditionally: toiled away alone on a piece, sent it somewhere to see if someone liked it enough to publish  it, waited forever to hear back . . . and then usually heard, "Sorry."

You know how much better instant positive feedback feels? Tons better. Life-saving, spirit-saving, enthusiasm-producing tons better.

On Twitter, when you follow and are followed by cool and supportive people, you will get immediate responses to the 140-character missives and questions that you send out. This feels wonderful. It feels like someone is listening. Like someone cares. Which can make all the motivational difference in the world to a writer.

 2.  Tribemates

I believe whole-heartedly that when you tweet authentically (as in, not just canned/automated tweets about your book-for-sale, and not in some "branded" form that does not really express who you are and what you're actually dealing with), you end up communicating on Twitter with wonderful, like-minded folks who become your tribemates. The people who say, "It's okay, I've been there, too," about the hard parts. Who say, "Want to meet for coffee?!?!?!" when they read you've just tweeted about landing in their city.  (This has even happened to me at the Copenhagen airport during a lay-over on a flight from New York to Rome!) Who say, "I would LOVE to review an advance copy of your book, if you'd be willing to send me one." Who, like Charlotte, say, "I'd like to feature you on my blog." Folks with whom you become fast friends and meet in real life when you can. Folks who  know you for how you tweet about your life, and like you for it.  And you, them.

 3.  Creative play

Twitter was made for writers. Tweets are 140-character bits of writing.  Over and over and over again. You can do all kinds of things with them. The possibilities are endless. Communicate with your friends in little "walkie-talkie" tweets back and forth. Or blast out your take on how things are going in any particular situation. Dream out loud. Send people inspiring messages.  Chronicle something cool or interesting or frustrating.  Participate in any number of "microfiction" groups — like when I play along on Fridays with "Friday Phrases," using the #fp hashtag.

Aside from being fun as hell, what's also great here is that they are all easy, low-stakes, fast-paced ways to keep practicing and practicing and practicing the art of writing. And, because the character -length of tweets is relatively short, they are especially great brevity-training exercises.

 4. Business opportunities

It's on Twitter where I've bonded with several fellow authors who publish serialized fiction at the very cool jukepop.com. (Check it out . . . vetted fiction of many different genres, which readers access for free and support with their votes.) JukePop itself has a strong, author-supporting Twitter presence, which is still relatively rare in the Old World publishing houses. Even better, many JukePop authors are also big tweeters, and support each other . . . offering words of encouragement, passing along news about your writing in their own tweets, and becoming "behind the scenes" friends who do even nicer things like reviewing and writing blurbs for your books and pulling for each other in life-outside-the-fiction activities.

 5. Style liberation Photo (37)

For the three years before I began drafting  The Road Presents Itself, I read about life in ancient Rome. Visual snippets of scenes would pop into my brain. I had a sense of many of the characters, and a bit of the plot.

But I had absolutely no idea about how the story was going to tell itself.  

On the plane to the writing workshop where I was going to do drafting, I got the sense it was going to be the protagonist talking. He did. When Tiberius started talking through me as I wrote, he talked like a 21st century guy. And in the present tense. And often in sentence fragments. In a story that ripped along.

 I'm pretty sure Twitter hatched that.

Because I think that two years of reading and tweeting tens of thousands of tweets changed the way my brain's neural pathways  hear, process, and expect narrative.

I no longer care for, or even "trust," most third-person narratives.  I just don't.  Because so much of my writing and reading is social media-based — where we read and write in the "I" — my brain now resonates to "I," instead of to the removed "he" or "she" or "they" in older narratives. Now when I read most third-person fiction, I feel an impatience.  (There are exceptions, of course.)  But usually, I feel irritated that I don't know the imaginary person, the omniscient third, who's telling the story. We don't know THEIR backstory, their predilections, etc.  They are god-like. Removed. They make choices about  how the story goes, without us having access to knowing why. Which at this point in my life and writing career seems to bug the heck out of me. I'm looking for more transparency.  When a first-person narrator is telling you the story, you are also knowing them through what they are doing themselves in the tale. This is what feels comfortable and right in narration to me now.

And there's more.

I no longer want to put up with being explained in too much detail what happened. That's right — happened. As in, in the past. Already occurred. Which is what past-tense is. And, unfortunately, most fiction (especially historical) has too much detail for my mystery-based, thriller-based brain. What I want is characters I love, and a story that moves. That's it. The very fact that something's told in the past tense builds in a distance, a layer of removed-ness, that makes it feel far away . . . which makes me feel like I'm missing something. It's not happening now.  It already happened. And inside, my brain asks, "SO?"

In short, writing in first-person present tense is the way fiction feels right to me now. It never would have, before. And that is because of Twitter.  

 6. The "traditional" business model

 "Tradition" is in quotes here because selling your fiction via social media is still, of course, very new compared to the Old World models of publishing and publicizing.  Still and all, there are already experts and ("experts") who will be happy to tell you the "ways you must" (read: traditionally) market your fiction on Twitter.  With certain hashtags. Through certain groups. At certain times. With certain kinds of tweets. Etc. But because I am more of a "make up your own rules" writing and marketing gal, I'll  leave  that to them, and to you to find in ways that help you best.

You can follow me on Twitter @tamholland. I'd love to follow you back!

Tamara Holland is a writer, mixed-media collage artist, bartender and former post-conviction death penalty attorney. Her previously-published books include two non-fiction books about the art business, and a children’s book. For the past six years, her art company Bean Up The Nose Art has been where she’s played and marketed six greeting card lines as her own distributor and with national licensing deals. She tweets almost non-stop as @tamholland, and posts on Instagram as @tamholland123 and @tiberiusroad. She's the happy mother of two now-grown-up married people, and grandma of Zoe Rose. 

And now, for the giveaway.  All you have to do is leave a comment, answering the following: what's your favorite social media site?  Add a few words about why if you like.  We'll give you until next Monday, December 8th, to enter.  I'll draw a name that day and let Tam know the winner!

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7 Things About Writing I’ve Learned in 7 Years of Blogging (With Giveaway!)

Birthday_party_celebration_261267_lSo, this week (yesterday, to be exact) is the seven year anniversary of my blog. Yep, I've been at this game for 7 years! I'm amazed, too, in some ways, and in other ways, not. Because from the minute I started blogging all those years ago I felt comfortable in this medium.  Sure, there have been times when I've lapsed in my posting (though surprisingly not all that often) and times when I was certain I'd never think of another thing to say about writing or the writing life.  But clearly I've recovered from those periods, because, well, here I am.

In my family we celebrate everything, so I think we need a Wordstrumpet birthday celebration, don't you? To that end, I'm giving away a few prizes which you'll have to read to the end to find out about. And in the meantime, I'll share with you what I've learned about writing in the past 7 years–because in many ways I feel I've come into my own as a writer as I've written this blog.  And I'm quite sure the two are not coincidental.

By the way, before we get started, you can read my first blog post here.

Okay, let's get on with it.  Here we go:

7 Things I've Learned About Writing

 1.  Let it Rip.  As mentioned above, blogging has turned out to be a natural medium for me.  Once I get an idea for a post, I rarely am blocked over it.  Most often, I just start writing and let it flow.  And flow it does.  This has spilled over into my other writing, too.  I find it far easier these days to throw words at the page, glumping them out so I can come back and rewrite them later.

2.  Not Everything is Perfect.  I've written over a thousand posts these past seven years and some of them are not that great.  A lot of them are really good, though–or at least I think they are!  When you're writing a lot of words, you are not always going to hit it out of the park and you'll drive yourself crazy if you try.  I'm not advocating you write crap, far from it.  Just loosen up on your standards a bit in order to get the words on the page.  

3.  It's All About Connection.  You guys–my loyal readers–are what keep me going and keep me writing posts.  I love the comments you leave, which always had immeasurably to the topic.  I love connecting with you!  And when you think about it, that's the essence of writing, isn't it?  Writing is a loop.  We put words on the page expecting somebody to read them, which is why we're all so obsessed with publishing.  The popular image of writers is of us in the ivory tower, all alone, writing, but I believe we desperately need connection.

4.  Social Media is Not a Waste of Time.  (And Twitter is about far more than what people ate for lunch.) I've met many people whose friendship I treasure on Twitter and through blogging.  We read and comment on each other's posts, support each other's book launches, and cheer each other on through all kinds of life events.  I've made business connections and hired people through Twitter. And I've even sold some books.  So don't shy away from using social media to build your author platform.  You can read a post I wrote about it here.

5. You've Got to Put Yourself Out There.  This is hard.  At least, I think it is.  You've got to get your work to a certain point and then let it go and let it seek its own place in the world.  Blogging has taught me how to put myself out in the world over and over and over again and bear the response, good or bad.  True story: when I first started my blog I told people about it but then told them not to look at it, because I was too nervous about what they'd think! Truly, I believe that fearing rejection (by our tribe, not agents and publishers)is such a primal response that we often refrain from putting our work in the world.

6.  Authenticity is Key.  This is, of course, closely related to #5.  You've got to put yourself out there as your own authentic self.  Because, you know, everybody else is taken.  

7.  Everything is Related to Writing.  When I started this blog, I had vague ideas of covering writing.  And then, as it developed, I realized I talked a lot about the writing life–how we writers move through our days, how we get inspired or blocked, what happens when we travel or new babies (in my case, grandchildren) come into our lives and suddenly everything changes.  And so I started writing about all of that.  And somewhere along the line, I realized, if you are a writer, the writing life encompasses everything–because everything is related to writing.  Period.

Okay, that's that.  And now onto the part you read all this way for: the presents!  Here they are:

–A signed print copy of my novel, Emma Jean's Bad Behavior.  (Makes a lovely gift if you already have a copy).

–A digital download of my novel, Emma Jean's Bad Behavior.

–A critique of your work–up to 25 pages.

Here's what you must do to enter: leave a comment telling me what you've learned in your writing lately (or over the last 7 years).  I will draw names randomly on Friday, April 4th, and announce the winners that day.

And truly, thank you all for reading and leaving comments and emailing me and supporting me in a million ways.  I treasure each one of you.

Photo by foobean01.

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Winners of Christmas 2013 Giveaway Announced!

Hi.

Hope you had a great Christmas–I did.  

Okay, so we've got that done with, let's get to it:  announcing the winners of the Christmas 2013 giveaway.  Here we go:

Dani wins the 25 page critique.

Leigh wins the Moleskine journal.

Mary wins a copy of my novel.

Okay, but that's not all.  I've decided to give away 2 bonus presents.  Let's call them New Year's gifts.  Why? Because both of the recipients mentioned that they wanted it in the comments.  And both of them are loyal, long-time readers who I love and adore.  So here goes:

Zan Marie wins a critique of 25 pages.

And so does Don.

I can't wait to read your work and/or send you your gift.

If you are a winner, please contact me with Christmas 2013 Winner in the subject line and I'll make arrangements with you.  If you won either the novel or the journal (Mary and Leigh, here's looking at you), I'll need your physical address.  

(By the way, I used this site to pick the names.)

8

A Month of Giveaways for Writers!

It's December, I'm in a holiday mood (my Christmas tree is already up and I'm in the process of finishing the decorating) so I've decided to give things away.  Not just once, but four times.

Here's how its going to work: on Monday, I'll announce the prize and ask a question related to writing.  You answer in the comments, and on Friday I'll randomly pick one of you to win the prize.  Please note: I'm not choosing you on the basis of the brilliance of your answers, so don't worry about that.  Just comment and you get a chance to win. (Also, all my commenters are brilliant and I adore and appreciate every one of you.)

A different prize will be announced every Monday in December, so come on back and check it out!

Okay, ready to find out what the first prize is going to be?  Drum roll, please…. Moleshine_lrg_journal

A Moleskine journal.  A Moleskine Classic Ruled Large notebook, to be precise.

I love Moleskine journals.  The paper is smooth and easy to write on, the basic size is easy to transport and you can manipulate the spine in various ways so as to make it easy to balance on your knee and scrawl in, if need be.  (The drawback with many perfect-bound journals is that you can't turn the cover back on itself and sometimes writing in a book that only opens flat can be awkward.)

Also there's an iconic feeling to the Moleskine, perhaps because generations of authors and writers and artists have used them throughout the years.  Writers such as Ernest Hemingway and Bruce Chatwin.  Artists like Vincent Van Gogh and Pablo Picasso.

But, mostly I use Moleskines because I like them, plain and simple.  And when it comes to journals, you should use what you like, because if you do, you'll write in it more often. By the way, I've written a bit about journaling in this blog, and here are some of those posts:

The Writer's Notebook: Loving Moleskines

Journaling, One Path to Writing Abundance

Practical Considerations For Journal Writing

The Carry-Along Book

Okay, okay, here's the part you've been waiting for.  Just answer this question and you'll be entered into the contest to win a Moleskine:  Do you write in a journal regularly? Does it inspire your creative writing?  (Yeah, I know, two questions.  Consider it a Christmas bonus. Answer one or the other or both.)

Catch you back here Friday when I'll announce the winner!

(Also, please note, I have nothing to do with Moleskine, I just love their products.  They are not sponoring this giveaway, I'm doing it all by my little old self.)

19

Book Giveaway

One of my faithful readers, novelist Heather Justesen, is having a wonderful week full of giveaways over at her blog this week.  Check it out here.Balls in Her Court smaller

Heather is the author of the newly-released, The Ball's In Her Court, and she's got another book coming out this summer.  Gotta love that.  Here's a brief summary that I snitched from her website (in the interest of promotion, I don't think she'll get too upset with me):

She's
got a great job, a loving group of family and friends and basketball
skills like you wouldn't believe, but Denise DeWalt's life is far from
perfect, and she's about to come face-to-face with a past she hoped to
leave behind forever.

Twenty-six-year-old Denise thinks she's come to terms with her childhood in the foster
care system, but when her old nightmares return, Denise realizes that
she must deal with her past once and for all if she ever wants to move
on to a brighter future with Rich, the only man who can see past her
former life. As Denise's search leads her closer and closer to the one
person she hoped she'd never have to face again, she begins to realize
that her future depends on just one person–herself.

This
emotional and inspirational love story proves that life is full of
unexpected twists and turns–especially when it comes to facing your
demons, fighting for love, and finding happiness for the future

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