Twitter for Beginners

This is the basic format I intend to follow today as I help some friends get comfortable with Twitter.

First, sign up.

Now add a picture and bio. Make sure your bio links to your blog.

Follow some people. Use hashtags #writing or whatever interests you to find like-minded people. DWW conference hashtag is #aWritersWorth. I did a thing where you sort of claim the hashtag, but anybody can post with that hashtag attached. Whenever you see that hashtag or anything about DWW, hit retweet.

Follow each other.

Twitter is unlike Facebook in that it is considered polite to follow back. But you have to weigh the follow. Look at bio, check out blog, see what the follower tweets. Don’t follow bots. Don’t follow anyone who only retweets or only quotes. Don’t follow people who say they can give you a thousand follows for $10. Etc.

To follow, simply click the name @CynthiaHarriso1 and then click follow. Try to keep your follows and followers about the same number. “Just Unfollow” lets you see who is not following you and allows you to unfollow a certain number of folks for free.

Links are great. But with 140 characters to work with, sometimes links can be too lengthy. is great for condensing links. Twitter condenses links to some websites.

I spend the most time on Twitter on “connect” not on “home” ~ home is not really home-like at all. It is a bewildering stream of nonsense unless you understand Twitter.

Read blog posts on “What Not To Do” on Twitter. @bodiciasapple and @mollygreene are two of my favorite bloggers. Molly does a lot with Twitter and Bodicia is a book blogger. Writers need book bloggers, and Bodicia is the best. When I first joined Twitter, I read “The Tao of Twitter” and it was quite helpful.

Why tweet? It’s supposed to be a marketing thing. But I don’t do a lot of “buy my book” posts. I do link to my blog if I think the topic may be interesting. I do talk  about my books, but mostly I just connect to other writers.

I like to balance original tweets (or as my friend @JohnLacey says, carry on monologues with myself), quotes, books I’m reading, blogs I like, retweeting (RT) valuable or fun tweets or links. If you venture into home, you can always butt into a conversation. Most people will let you in. Sure, there are snobs on Twitter just like anywhere. Ignore them.

When I first met Linda Anger, I asked her to tell me the biggest marketing secret. She said “name recognition” and this is why I tweet, so people recognize my name, and maybe they’ll buy a book “Oh yeah, she’s funny on Twitter” or “She wrote that great post about bragging.”

That’s why if you are building a platform for marketing your work, you want to use your own name on Twitter. @CynthiaHarrison was taken, so I got @CynthiaHarriso1.

Check in daily with Twitter. Just to see who followed you. Follow them back. Who RTed you. RT them back unless they are a silly bot who RTed something stupid, like a line in the middle of a conversation that  makes no sense out of context. Check in with your friends. You can put people in lists, it’s pretty easy. Then you just go to lists and check on your pals. What are they up to? What are they blogging about? If it’s helpful to you, RT it. If you think it will be helpful to others, RT it.


Twitter Inspiration

Found out about National Romance Novel Writing Month, aka NaRoNoWriMo, a little late but decided to jump in anyway. Need all the inspiration I can get for Luke and Chloe, the star-crossed lovers in my WIP. Plus, they’re on Twitter @naronowrimo so I can check in. Got 300 more hard-won words today, and that’s all good. I revised 45 pages as well.

Traditionally, NaNoWriMo is “all new words” but that’s not what I need and I don’t think NaRoNoWriMo cares that I’m in revision mode. For me, that means going through, page by page, and adding to the story, upping the conflict and hotness factor. When I say hotness factor, I’m not talking 50 Shades of anything–I’m talking about the initial attraction between two people who are perfect for each other.

That’s priority one for me. I want the romance to shoot the moon. And when I wrote the first draft, I didn’t take it far enough. (Thank you to my critique group: Vernie Dale, Tom Phillips, and Bob Baker!) The other thing I need to do is flesh out a skimpy subplot that absolutely plays into the main theme of the story and is tightly entwined. In the first draft, that got very short shrift. My writing pals sat in my dining room a week or two ago and helped me brainstorm where the book needed filling out.

Because for me, it’s always about filling in the parts I skip over. Every writer has her weak spot, and that’s mine. What that means in practical terms is the first draft will be short, lots of it will be internal monologue (telling where it should be showing) instead of action, dialogue and conflict. So I need to use what I have but carefully cut the “sitting and thinking” and fill in the right stuff. The best stuff: Action. Dialogue. Conflict.

Revising, I also look at language and try to add color and humor. Cut those cliches right out of my book! One way to do that is to switch the cliche up with a new edge. Thank you Twitter for leading me yet again into inspiration! If you’d like to follow me, I’m @CynthiaHarriso1. I always follow back real people who are not scary:)


My favorite hashtag on Twitter is #amwriting. If I do nothing else in my day, I want to write. And then I want someone to know. I’m not doing NaNoWriMo this year, but I am writing. One project out of the way: A 15 page report on how to put together a writer’s conference that DWW members requested I write. I didn’t want to do it. I was over the conference and all the time it took away from my own work. But I did it, because I was asked and because the info was fresh in my head.

Tomorrow critique group meets here, so I wrote another chapter on the Sister Issues sequel. I am only at about 20,000 words into that one. I am not sure why I’m finding it so difficult to string together some writing days for just that fiction project, but something else too ofen calls.

I have another writing project, this with a friend. I can’t believe I’m collaborating on a book. I never thought I would do that. But this is a non-fic project close to both of our hearts and I’m giving a ton of time to it. It is time well spent and when I can I will say more.

Also working on an essay about Steps (as in step families) for possible inclusion in an anthology. I have a draft written but it needs more work. My sons have a step dad and a step mom and we’ve been in this step situation 28 years. So…I have a few things to say.

Congrats to everyone who is tackling NaNoWriMo. With several writing projects pulling me in all directions, I just can’t fit it in, but I #amwriting.

#am writing

Now that the long holiday weekend has passed, it’s back to work. Putting together a writer’s conference, at this point, with less than two weeks to go, is like a job. There’s lots to do and I’ll be working steadily, for several hours every day, until it’s over.

I’m not complaining. I knew what I was getting myself into, and a conference is something I’ve been pushing for since I joined DWW several years ago. It’s only fitting that I take on the challenge of chairing this event and commit my time accordingly. So, where does that leave my novel-in-progress?

I sat down this morning with my cup of tea and thought about it. The irony of it. My book is almost finished. The conference is almost here. I have two big items on my agenda and all I really want to do it read. I want to bury my head in the sand. I want a day to relax after all the socializing of the holiday. I want to prepare myself mentally for a funeral service tonight, the husband of a friend, who is younger than I am by ten years. He leaves behind not just his grieving widow but two heartbroken teenagers.

When I don’t feel like working on my novel, I usually default to morning pages and ask myself why. What happens most often is, with pen in hand, writing in my notebook, I remember where I was with the manuscript and what is left to do. And then I flip to a fresh notebook page and write by hand. Four pages today. And a blog!

Not bad for someone who feels the way I do today. Sad. Mournful. Anxious. Talked out. Ready for a rest. It doesn’t matter what’s happening in your life. If you’re a writer, that’s what you do. You write. First. Before anything. At least for me. Then I pop onto Twitter and check in with my tweeps at #amwriting. It’s what we do, no matter what.

The Rules of Romance

I have a guest post right here at my friend Terri’s website. Some people are just so nice and encouraging, and she’s one of them. She offered to host me, she helped me brainstorm an idea, and it turned out to be something I really wanted to blog about. It’s all about what I learned about the rules of romance writing when I was editing The Paris Notebook.