Twitter Book Marketing

This past week a friend pointed out to me that since it’s December, I should be marketing my Blue Lake Christmas Mystery on Twitter.I’m of two minds about book marketing on Twitter. Mostly, I don’t do it. I depend on blog posts to indirectly indicate that hey guess what I write books too! So she said “pin a new post every day with a fresh picture, hash tags, and a buy link.” I accepted the challenge and posted a new pinned tweet every day last week. I’m not sure I sold any books. I am hoping none of the people who follow me got annoyed.

I find people who post a ton about their products annoying. If that is the only thing they post.

(Just as an aside I am trying to use the new “better” Word Press format. I started this post yesterday and couldn’t finish it because I got so confused. New tech is daunting for me. But I am determined to publish this post today. I see in previews that I do not like the box format at all!! Don’t know how to fix it. Hope it goes away when I hit publish! Sorry for all the !!!! but I am frustrated.)

So back to posting about your book (or your service, or your product that is not a book) on Twitter. It really doesn’t work as a sales tool for me. It does work for some people. I figured out why it doesn’t work for me this week. I usually post to Twitter once a week with a blog link. That’s it. I do look at other posts on the day I tweet. I have my favorites, but I also randomly read those I follow, too. If something someone says interests me, I will retweet it or make a comment or like it or all three.

Lately I’ve noticed people are not retweeting as much. I get many more “likes” than retweets. I thought it was just a new trend or perhaps a new rule. Really, are people sick of retweets? I thought RT was queen of Twitter, but at least for me, not so much anymore. Still, I persist in RTing. It’s what I do most on Twitter.

From what I’ve read, the rule for tweeting your book on Twitter is make it ten percent of your tweets. So that’s one post in ten. I like to mix up comments and RTs. I don’t do a lot of original tweeting because there are so many other people who speak tweet better. But I tweet a bit when I have a flash of brilliance…you see I set a high bar.

For blogging, I like posting on Monday to catch the #MondayBlogs hashtag. But those posts are not supposed to be about your book. They’re not for promotion or sharing buy links. So I kind of got out of the habit of talking about my books at all on Twitter or in my blog posts. I’m less shy about it on my Facebook author page. Not sure why.

So what this week has shown me is that if I pin a new post every day, I will look at my Twitter feed and spend some time on there commenting and RTing and even tweeting an original though every so often. I liked doing the new pinned book tweet every day, too. It was fun, even if it didn’t sell books. I think I will keep up this practice. And there’s always #TuesdayBookBlogs.

Happy holidays everyone and thanks for reading.

How to Find Holiday Happiness

IMG_4951When I was growing up, Christmas was a mixed blessing. Christmas Eve, all four of my grandparents visited. My teenage aunt and uncle came over as well. Everyone had gifts, and it would have been very fun except Grandpa was often roaring drunk, dressed as Santa and bearing gifts. He was jolly, though, and I wasn’t sure why my mother was so upset. Which made my father a bit upset. One year, Grandpa went to the wrong house and distributed our gifts to the neighbor’s children. That night began with hope and ended in tears.

By Christmas morning all that drama was forgotten. My memories of Christmas Day are of waking up to a Shirley Temple dream. Beautiful dolls and wonderful toys spread around the tree and all about the living room. There was no space where a toy was not. Nothing was gift-wrapped and my presents were in the middle of the room, with my brothers’ to each side. As the only girl, I knew what was mine. The little kitchen table and chairs, the sweet easy bake oven, with real cake mixes. The dolls, the velvet dresses, the necklaces and bracelets and the satin-lined box that opened to a twirling ballerina.

Christmas morning was always the best morning of the year. It’s why, despite knowing it’s not true, I still sometimes equate gifts with love, money with love, abundance with love. As a young single mom, I tried very hard to duplicate those Christmases for my own children. With very little money for gifts, I tried my best. I went into debt, even. I’m not poor anymore, but when I was, I could not afford to pay off my debt, so I stayed under its steady thumb, struggling just to pay the outrageous interest so my boys could have a semblance of what I thought of as a magical Christmas.

Christmas is why I became a romance writer. When life is too stressful, too harsh, too much to take, I make another world. One that can be difficult but always ends with the feeling of Christmas morning and its beautiful treasures. I remember that feeling and it’s what I went for in my HEAs, every month of the year. Now that I write crime fiction, there’s still that satisfying ending when the criminal is captured and the world is set right again.

When I’m not writing, I have other December ways to deal with unromantic reality. I watch Christmas movies, read Christmas novels, listen to Christmas music and deck the halls. I keep the tree lit and a fire burns all day long. There is absolutely nothing in my contract with life that says I have to remember the bad Christmases, like when my sweet granny died early one Christmas morning. I only found out when I got to her hospital room for a visit and found her bed stripped, the room devoid of flowers.

That year, and the next, my husband left me home alone so he could visit his family. And I was really alone because my boys were with their father almost every Christmas. He and I wanted to give the boys as much security and continuity as possible, so, most years I had Christmas Eve and he had Christmas Day. Sometimes, when I was home alone on Christmas, I went to visit Granny at the cemetery. I realize life is full of suffering much deeper than my own personal sorrows. Somehow, despite my own sadnesses, I mostly manage to find the holiday sweet spot, which is a feeling and not a place.

Psychology and science now know why bad memories are easier to remember than good ones. The bad times, the sad times, cut a painful impression with which sweeter moments cannot compete. Painful memories remain vivid because they are an evolutionary tool; they keep an awareness of possible danger, learned from experience, front and center to ensure survival. Just knowing this cheers me up and makes me more determined to celebrate life while I’m here.

We don’t have to fall in with those deeper impressions of pain. We don’t have to drown in them. I know several ways to beat the rough hand with which life often slaps us. I write down the good memories, I create new ones, or discover those written by others and read them over and over. Eventually, they replace the painful stuff, which these days I am adept at kicking away before it stomps me down.

People make fun of romance, or the sentimentality of Christmas. Many bemoan the commercial aspects of the holiday season, but that’s okay. I know many suffering Scrooges. I don’t wish to join their chorus. I would rather be happy baking cookies. Music, movies, reading and writing also help make the season bright. During the holidays, I like to sip hot chocolate by the fire and think about all the blessings in my life. Now that I’m older, I don’t need lots of gifts under the tree to feel good. My thoughts dwell on happy times, like Christmas visits with my own grandchildren.

My wish for readers of this blog is that you, too, can be filled with the magic of this season. xo



The Clinton Affair

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I watched this six-part series because I have always been fascinated by Monica Lewinsky.  Horrified by what she went through, what our “justice” system put her through, what our President put her through, what the media did to her. It seemed like a nightmare life. Maybe I like nightmares or flame engulfed car crashes. I also like(d) Bill Clinton.

So many people hate the Clintons, especially Hillary, and I wondered if this documentary would shed some light on why. I did learn a few things, but not why so much of America hates Hillary. I learned for example that Bill Clinton has been accused of rape and sexual harassment. Of course I know about Paula Jones, but she was the only woman who I knew of that claimed he’d forced unwanted sexual attention onto her.

Then I saw the interview with Juanita Broaddrick. And I believed her. She said when Bill Clinton was running for governor, he raped her. She gave details that rang true. About how every time she screamed he’d bite her upper lip and press down hard on her left shoulder. Very precise. And her emotion was unmistakable. She said she had to quit going to church after the rape because in her church there was always a prayer for the President and she couldn’t pray for him.

Juanita didn’t tell her story for a long time. Why? Because she didn’t think anybody would believe her. That also rings so true. Women know all about this. Just ask Christine Ford. And Monica. Monica was a revelation. She didn’t do a strip tease, feeding out juicy morsels to the public, one at a time. She didn’t save her blue dress for the big reveal. She was betrayed by a friend, entrapped by the FBI, used and dumped by Bill Clinton. She only testified after she got an immunity deal, which was smart, but she wasn’t trying to be smart, she was scared of going to jail. The FBI had also threatened her with putting her mother in jail, too.

Ken Starr is a horrible person. But he also did something surely unintended for women. He made Monica so infamous that everyone knows her name. Everyone knows a lot of things about her. And everyone, including me, judged her too harshly. She was 22 years old when Clinton beguiled her. This was, at the very least, an abuse of power. I didn’t use to think so. I thought their affair was consensual. She admitted she loved him, after all. She started the flirting. She inexplicably saved the blue dress.

I had no idea to the extent our government went to silence women who had been sexually abused by Clinton. Kathleen Willett. I remembered her. How did I brush that off? Where the hell does HE get off treating women like that? There’s a story I used to tell myself: all men, given power or money, will behave this way with women, so be careful. Don’t ever be alone with a guy like that, because sexual abuse of women by men is a DNA fact of life. My own life history supports that idea, but I don’t believe it anymore. I don’t think Obama ever raped or sexually abused a women in his life. Nor did Jimmy Carter.

I have always supported Bill and Hillary Clinton but that’s changed. I now support Monica Lewinsky and Juanita Broaddrick. And I no longer think, given half a chance, all men are sexual predators. My own experiences led me to that crazy theory. Maybe yours did, too. But we are in a new era. Eyes have been opened, including mine.


How to Write a Fast First Draft

Limit social activity online and IRL. Don’t stop everything, just cut down. Remember this is a fast draft, 50K words in a month in NaNoWriMo terms. NaNoWriMo is the best tool I’ve ever used to get a fast draft. Sure, you can do it on your own any old time, but that doesn’t always work for me. If November rolls around and I need a kick in my pantser butt, I join the team. Here’s what my stats look like today and I could not be happier! Just seeing the graph and the stats does something internally to make me want to get those pages down every day. I can’t on Thanksgiving because I am cooking, but I’m ahead just enough to take those few days I need off from writing and still meet my goal. Try it!


Old Fashioned Letter Reading & Writing

41xpVHwa4ML._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_I have been, and continue to be, a life-long letter writer. It is true that now my most faithful and frequent correspondence is online in the form of email, but the spirit of the letter writing me remains.

My husband, who is not a writer of more than an occasional text, does not understand this “weird thing” I do, writing letters, but I’ve had pen pals my entire life, starting with Shelly Wong, who lived in San Francisco, when I was 11 and Shelly was 12. My mother, who worked for Shelly’s father, hooked us up. I still remember Shelly’s fat looping penmanship, although I have no idea what we wrote to each other.

I wrote my grandmother, too, when she returned to the south after my grandfather retired. Again, I can recall her handwriting more than the words we wrote to each other. I had started writing diaries about this time, a habit, like writing to penpals, I still keep to this day. I throw the diaries (I call them “morning pages” now) away as soon as I fill a book, and I was the same way with letters. I never wrapped them into a packet with a ribbon.

For a few years, I wrote to Kelly, who lived in Toronto. We met because her boyfriend was a friend of my husband. Al and I traveled to Toronto often, but when she was there and I was here, we corresponded regularly. We mostly talked about our love lives. When the internet happened, and I started a blog, I sometimes struck up years’ long correspondences with people who’d read a post. There was Kris, a fellow teacher of English, who was a RL friend who had moved a few hours north. We wrote every single day for a while. There was Becky, who loved writing, psychology and self-help as much as I did. She lived in Washington D.C. and I finally met her IRL when she came to Wayne State University for a course requirement.

The only penpal I have never met is the one I’ve been writing to for the longest time. It’s been a few years now and it’s a cherished and almost daily habit. Ali lives in England; we met when she reviewed one of my novels on her website. Back then we didn’t call people like Ali book bloggers, we called them reviewers. Eventually Ali reviewed all my titles, and, when she closed down her website, we began to correspond about more than books. We share our lives like best friends who’ve never met will do. She’s younger (and also wiser) than I am, but we fight many of the same daily battles. We talk about everything.

My husband thinks me odd for this habit of writing letters, emails and morning pages. I told him it wasn’t odd at all, but, admittedly old-fashioned. Like penmanship. Like reading real books. Like using the post office. We both remember all those things before the world changed with iPhones and laptops and pod casts. I was a little stung by his comment. I’m just doing what I’ve always done. It might make me strange, but I keep good company.

I explained to him that famous writers are sometimes also letter writers. When two such start a correspondence, they often save their letters, and when they die, the letters are published in books. I have read many such books myself. I offered to go to the bookshelf where they’re kept and show him one. He said no. This is just one more thing about me he doesn’t understand.

This morning, as I read the New York Times Book Review, another old habit I continue but now read on Kindle, I found to my pleasure that the long awaited second volume of Sylvia’s Plath’s letters has been published. After I read it, it will go on my bookshelves, with my Plath collection, and therefore I ordered a print version, which will be delivered to my door on Tuesday via Amazon. I can’t wait to show it to my husband.