Thursday, November 17, 2016

3 things learned from leaving Facebook

Taking a Break From Facebook



When I joined Facebook several years ago, one of my daughters warned me I'd find it "as addictive as crack." In many ways she was correct. Eventually, I found myself diving into FB numerous times a day, liking posts willy-nilly and taking part in quizzes designed (supposedly) to test general knowledge, vocabulary level or history recall when in truth, although fun, they are time wasters.


Not to say that there are not good uses for Facebook. Getting to know other authors on various writing groups, getting photos and video clips of grandkids far away, chatting with friends and learning their opinions, and following links to useful writing articles is all good.


Fish Beta Reader

Time is the issue. 


For some of us, it can become addictive, and if one is to be writing, pursuing Facebook is a detriment. I started to analyze what I was getting from and doing on FB.  First, I stopped liking most posts. Then I hid everything that was an ad. And finally, I closed my account (with an option to return). I went without for a total of 44 days. 



1) Did I miss any great and wonderful news? 

Not in the least. People who wanted me to know things sent emails or used Messenger which was functional on its own. It turns out that I do not NEED what comes in on Facebook. (As interesting as it seems.) I wrote more personal emails to several people instead of assuming they'd see my updates on their News feed.

2) Did I have withdrawal symptoms? 

Without an active ICON to tempt me into its pages, Facebook almost never entered my mind. I found myself doing other things: more brainstorming, more reading, more (necessary) housework and more writing. When I give my brain a bit more time on its own, it comes up with some pretty unique ideas.

3) Will I go back to using Facebook? 

Yes, I already have. It does have benefits such as keeping in touch with the writing community, family and friends and letting them know what's going on in my world. (Especially bigger events like a new book coming out / mine or others/ - or a spectacular sunset or sunrise - two of my weaknesses) FB also has distractions and those I need to ignore..

 However, I keep in mind that balance is needed.


FB won't melt, disappear in a puff of smoke, or disown me if I don't visit five or six (or more) times a day. Balance people, balance. Once in the morning and once after supper (sort of like dessert) is plenty for me.


And a great big hello-type hug for all those who put up with me on Facebook.

QUESTION:  What does FB do for you? Are you addicted? Or a casual user? Thoughts and comments welcome. 




Thursday, September 29, 2016

Why take a break from social media?

Today's Indie / self-published author must be writer, author, marketer, publisher and more. Sometimes you have to separate the functions and stick to only one for awhile.

Writing is most important. 

If you don't have stories and books you don't have anything to fill the other areas.
When you feel overwhelmed - it's best to let folks know that you're knocking off a few of the functions for a short period of time. IT IS OKAY TO HIDE AWAY AND WRITE. (As long as you remember to return.) 




I'll be back!
with - Home From the Grave

Meanwhile - check these blogs from the past. 
http://www.mahriegreid.com/2014/04/creating-setting-for-your-novel.html
http://www.mahriegreid.com/2016/08/what-heck-are-forerunners-of-death.html
http://www.mahriegreid.com/p/blog.html
http://www.mahriegreid.com/2016/07/how-to-use-5-senses-for-more-vivid.html


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Platform building and use for the newbie or clueless.

The Writer’s Commute - Platform building when you don’t have a clue.

(First published in Opal Publishing, August 2016 )

Going to Work

Going out to work, you have a commute to make the transition. Working at home, it’s difficult to leave home duties and settle into writing. To help me, I developed my Writer’s Commute. It happens in my office, on my computer.

What the heck do I do with this Social Media?

As a woman of a certain age, computers are not my natural habitat. I know the basics and can find articles that tell me what to do. The thought of building a platform overwhelmed me. I was advised to start small and expand slowly. I took an orientation course offered on-line by a member of my writing group. It could have been called: Platform Building for Dummies. Lorraine Paton was patient with us and assured us that slow was fine.

First I formed goals for my platform.

1)      Expand name recognition.
2)      Learn and share about all things writing.
3)      Support other writers.
4)      Promote my books when they are first launched.
5)      Stay up-to-date with the world of Indie writers.




Decide what social media sites will accomplish this for your market.

Over of a year, I hammered out a process I call my writer’s commute. All commutes need coffee, so that’s first. Then I visit, in no particular order:

  • ·        Emails (2 accounts – personal and author link)
  • ·        Facebook – Profile and Author Page and Groups
  • ·        Twitter
  • ·        Blog/webpage
  • ·        Internet in general

Learn how to use the sites you choose.


Tasks to do on each site


It is not necessary to do every single thing, every day.


  • I review both personal and writer accounts and respond to items requiring short answers. 
  • If a writing newsletter arrives, read it and make a short comment. 
  • Most sites have a place to put your website. Be sure to add it.
 If it’s a social chatty email, I come back to it and respond in depth at the END of my writing day (or at lunch).

Blogging

I use Blogger from blogspot.com. (Where we are right now.) I find it user friendly and simple enough that even my older brain can grasp it. I played with it before hitting publish. The layout and content on the blog expanded as I became more familiar with the layout function. There is no rush. Take your time to learn.

   Blog/webpage 

       On my blog homepage, I post bi-monthly blogs. Choose a frequency you can maintain and a  content based on topics relating to your stories, your life and your hobbies.

    I have additional pages to this blog one. (See the other tabs above. About me, Why Writers Write) Set up a permanent sidebar or similar. It is best (so I’ve read) to be consistent and to set a schedule you can maintain. I alter my content between items for readers and those for writers and do interviews with writers launching books my followers might like. (www.mahriegreid.com)

    Tweet, twitter, tiddly winks     

    One day, I bit the bullet and added a Twitter account. It confused me. However, I followed along and got the hang of it. (@MahrieGReid)


      Twitter –you don’t need to check every day.


    Tweet about your new blogs or book launches. Pre-write six posts and post them through the day with links to your blog or book. Otherwise, scan the tweets and re-tweet interesting posts. If you click through and read an article, retweet making a specific comment.

    Go to notifications and see who has retweeted or followed you. Check them out. Follow back if you like. The ones that want your business, you don’t have follow. Do tweet thanking all followers and re-tweeters using their Twitter address. Be polite

    Internet Browsing


    • For the general internet, I decided on topics and went searching. As I found sites I liked, I added them to my save-list. If a site offered an email link, I often chose that option.
    • If you see groups you like, ask to join them. That way their posts will show up in your feed and cut out the task of going to the group. I belong to a few private groups and several public groups. Follow sites you'd like to be in touch with. (Other author pages and so on.)  
        


    • Scan profile news list quickly. Many posts are cute but not helpful to a writer’s career. Pass them over. Read short writerly articles and comment. Personal items can be left for later.
    • Check Author Page and answer any messages plus respond to comments even if it is only a “like.” Post a new message once or twice a week. Promote books by other authors and/or add a teaser with a link to your newest blog post. Post any launch information for your own books. (https://www.facebook.com/MahrieGReid/ )
    • Visit a couple of your writer/author groups a day. You can follow on an irregular schedule. Reply, share or comment on a post that catches your eye. Become known as a contributor. 

    The Internet

    If you have time left – pick one of the sites on your saved-list and click-in to check out their most recent articles. Again, here’s where you can leave a comment and a link to your information. Participate Positively

    When 1 hour is up 

    I’ve reviewed in-coming information, responded appropriately, and liked, linked or commented. Most important my brain is transitioned to writing. I open my Word or Scrivener, or grab pen and paper and get to the writing. Give it a try and good luck in designing a writer’s commute that works for you.

    Sunday, August 21, 2016

    Three Steps to Creating a Contemporary Setting for your Novel


    World Building - Creating Fictional Communities

    Red fisheries sheds, Tancook Island
    Writers can be inspired by characters or an event, but as the story evolves the characters need a place to live. Setting is a character is it's own right and often dictates direction in the story. Some writers set books in real places. In a large city, this works. However, using a smaller, limited population creates privacy issues and limits events. The solution is to create a fictional community to showcase the story. Caleb's Cove in the Caleb Cove Mystery series is a created community inspired by three real-life geographical locations.

    Although a contemporary setting is easier to create than a fantasy world, it's still necessary to define geography, to understand and remember the residents' philosophy and to know who in "town" your characters can trust.

    To create your fictional, contemporary world:

    First:
    Brainstorm what type of community you want.

    • Do you want a large place or a cozy, hamlet? 
    • Will you locate it on the ocean's edge or the prairie's bold sweeping field?
    • Canada has been settled by varied ethnic groups over the years. 
    • What is the origin of the community? Has the town grown from the WW11 interment camps in Canada? Or did its settlers arrive in the 1700s?
    • Is a second language spoken in the area you are creating?
    • What about the geography, the buildings, the occupations in your newly created town?


    Second:
    Find towns and locations that have your wanted ingredients.

    • You do not have to take a whole town,  you can choose elements and relocate them to wherever you like in your town. I found elements in a number of places and combined them to create Caleb's Cove, set on Dane's islands off Nova Scotia's South Shore. following are some of those places. 
    • Several real locations provided inspiration, visuals and ambiance for Caleb's Cove. However, all people and story events are products of my writer's imagination and other than the awesome ocean setting, bear no connection to any real person in the three background communities.

    Third:
    Create your town, describe it, download pictures and draw a map of the areas in your book.

    TANCOOK ISLANDS, Nova Scotia, Canada 

    Tancook Island started it all. I've had a fascination with Tancook for decades. My sister-in-law's mother worked on Little Tancook and I loved her stories and the name. At eight I thought it a great setting for a mystery and wrote (longhand in a Hilary Scribbler) The Mystery on Tancook Island.

    Accidentally, or at the bidding of  my unconscious, my mystery series is set on an island off Nova Scotia. Additional details and ideas for Caleb's Cove came from Tancook and two other Nova Scotia locations. (For more on Nova Scotia visit: http://www.novascotia.com/explore)

    BELL'S ISLAND 


    What is know as Bell island today is actually three older islands that were combined when the road through the LaHave Islands was built. The road now joins Jenkin's Island, LaHave Island and Bell's Island into one large island know collectively as Bell Island.



    PETITE RIVIERE


    • Caleb's Cove is on a fictional set of islands modeled on current day Bell Island. Bridges join the three separate parts and the main fictional island is larger than the real one.
    • The hamlet and various buildings and stores are based on Petite Riviere along the 331 and Fisherman's Wharf located in Eastern Passage, back of Dartmouth.























    Monday, July 18, 2016

    How to use the 5 senses for more vivid writing

    Using the five senses enriches the setting, enhances character and shows your reader the story.

    Used wisely and folded into the world of your characters, the senses ground your reader in a unique location, add textures and atmosphere to the story, and draw your reader in.

    The five senses at work.

    Sight

    What does you character see in the surroundings? What is unique to the current location?


    Trees crowded the road but here and there squares of cleared land sported buildings. On the inner side of the island he saw a house with an outbuilding and a circle of trees at its back. The clearings on the left, the ocean side, often left gaps and he caught glimpses of water, dark, rolling and cold looking. Some of the houses were older two story places— weathered and over-painted, houses of time and displayed character. (A glimpse at Dane's Island and Caleb's Cove in the Caleb Cove Mystery Series.)

    Sound

    Are the sounds those of a city, an ocean, a mountain? A city boy at night in the country will be aware in a different manner than a country boy in the same spot. How does your character react to the sounds around them? What memories or anticipations do those sounds trigger?

    Frank tipped his head against the tree and closed his eyes tuning in to the sounds. Two birds nattered above him. A slight breeze brushed the tree, the sound not soft enough to be a rustle, not sharp enough to be a clatter. He'd spent years drunk, sleeping in parks and culverts in good weather and heading to the homeless shelters in bad. Back then he wouldn't have noticed the birds or the breeze. He'd have been too consumed with locating the next drink.
    A cough echoed around him, and he jerked up. He checked the open area, the rock pile off to the right and the bush on the left. There was a second cough. Tension drained away. Some poor slob was behind the bushes. A drunk who couldn't or wouldn't get sober. (Excerpt from Came Home to a Killing, Book 2 in the Caleb Cove Mystery Series)


    Touch


    This is much more than a hand on an object. It is the brush of air against a cheek or the chill seeping into toes about to freeze. Air can be perceived as soft or harsh, breezy or still. The elements, air, water, fire, and earth create touch.

    She breathed in. There is air. I won’t smother. She rolled onto her knees and felt with her hands. One hand plunged in the water. She lost her balance, rolled and hit the ocean's cold, gasping, she sank under the surface. The shock stopped her breath for a heartbeat. She kicked and came up sputtering and clawing at the ledge. Fright once again had her by the neck. (Excerpt: Came Home Too Late, Book 3)

    Smell

    The odors of a farm yard are very different from the local bus terminal. Smell evokes the strongest memories and reactions. Use it to your advantage when portraying your characters.

    He sipped his coffee and savored both it and the pungent salt odor of seaweed roiled by the storm and the damp, old smell of the dock soaked by the waves. (Came Home Dead)

    Taste

    This gives you a wide area in which to play. Can we taste the air? Experience city grit when rain hits our tongues? Does the freshness of ripe cherries burst over our senses when we kiss our lover?

    Additionally, food eaten is different cultures and areas of the country can add to the texture of the setting. Hodge Podge, a mixture of baby vegetables topped with a butter and cream sauce, followed by a dessert of Blueberry Grunt is a meal indicative of the South Shore of Nova Scotia. (Find the Blueberry Grunt Recipe in last week's blog below.)

    Mix and Match

    The senses can be combined in various ways. The odor of BBQing pork precedes the taste and texture of the meat on our tongues. The sight of a field of ripe, plump blueberries can bring back memories and summon taste experienced from the past. A vivid mix of senses intensifies the experience of a character.

    Heat filled the trailer and voices echoed in the campground and, in one final, jerky movement, Emily sat up. Her hair straggled around her head and strands stuckto her cheeks. Her shoulders ached and her P.J. collar, damp and clammy, clung to her. Her mouth was once again that telltale dryness that followed being drugged. Pounding filled her head and tightened her scalp. One hell of a night. (Came Home Too Late.)




    Monday, June 27, 2016

    How to Stumble into Writing a Series.

    HOW I STUMBLED INTO A SERIES


    Photo by Destination Halifax
    As readers, we tend to love a series. Getting to know characters and having the ability to re-visit them in subsequent books makes for happy reading. Originally, I'd intended this series to be in Toronto. However, the South Shore of Nova Scotia kept popping into my head and we have The Caleb Cove Mystery Series.

    My first book ever (I was about 8 or so) was set on Tancook Island off Nova Scotia. A mystery with an old house, hidden rooms and a ghost, the story starred twins, Pam and Penny. A few years ago, I followed my inner urging and returned to an island off the East Coast for my first published grown-up book. After reading it, a sister-in-law said, "Why don't you write a three book series like Jayne Ann Krentz does?" Off I went and wrote the first three books in the series. (They are not necessarily as well written or romantic as Jayne's.)

    I write what I like to read. 

    My books are traditional mysteries with a touch of suspense and sometimes incorporate the voice of an evil antagonist. Written in a style blended from my favorite authors, Mary Stewart, Dorothy Gilman and Dana Stabenow with an underling hue of Agatha Christie, they are "clean" reads suitable for anyone from an older teen to grandmother.


    Series that Grow After the Fact: 


    I had plots for three books and they became linked as I wrote. However, one original character fell off the grid and his sister took his place. She's quite a demanding character and has insisted on her own book. Therefore the Caleb Cove Mystery Series will continue in Book Four. There are also rumblings from the cast for a five and six as well. It's fun to return to a known group of characters in order to throw in a stumbling block (usually a murder). How they handle it is sometimes a surprise to me.
    For example, in book three they have formed a club called The Touched by Murder Club. I had not seen that coming.

    My advice to writers:

     If a your characters want their own stories - go ahead and create a series. But do start recording details early so you know who is in town when you start the next book. If about book three you realize things will be ongoing, backtrack, re-read your first books and get that character/setting Bible up to date!

    The first three Caleb Cove books are the Came Home books as in ...Dead, ...to a a Killing and ...Too Late. I am looking for a set of titles for three more with a different prefix. (Suggestions welcome.)

    Readers: 

    Caleb Cove Mystery #3
    Please enjoy the current release--Came Home Too Late, (Monday, June 27th, 2016) and if you haven't already done so, check out books One and Two as well. They can be read as stand-alones, but if you'd like to meet the recurring community start with the first one, Came Home Dead**.


    What do you like best about a series? 
    How many books do you think should be in one series? 

    **For an explanation of the term Came Home Dead, visit my interview with Makenzi Fisk on her blog.



    Sunday, April 17, 2016

    Fictional World Building



    How to build a fictional world?

    1) Ask your characters what type of community they want.
    2) Find inspiration in places with ingredients your character likes.
    3) People the world with family, friends and enemies.
    4) Provide jobs on main street; homes on side streets; add beaches, parks or bowling allies as required
    5) Draw a map of the village or town.

    For Caleb's Cove, I looked to Nova Scotia's south shore islands, ocean-side markets and beaches. I sprinkled in hurricanes, boats, history and ghosts.

     Inspiration #1 - Greater TANCOOK ISLAND, Nova Scotia

    WORLD BUILDING - CREATING FICTIONAL COMMUNITIES

    Writers can be inspired by characters or an event, but as the story evolves the characters need a place to live. Setting is a character is it's own right and often dictates direction in the story. Some writers set books in real places. In a large city, this works. However, using a smaller, limited population creates privacy issues and limits events. The solution is to create a fictional community to showcase the story. Caleb's Cove in Came Home Dead and Came Home to A Killing is a created community inspired by three real-life geographical locations including TANCOOK ISLAND.


    Although a contemporary setting is easier to create than a fantasy world, it's still necessary to define geography, to understand and remember the residents' philosophy and to know who in "town" your characters can trust.

    Inspiration # 1 - Tancook Island, Nova Scotia, Canada 


    Three real locations provided inspiration, visuals and ambiance for Caleb's Cove. However, all people and story events are products of my writer's imagination and other than the awesome ocean setting, bear no connection to any real person in the three background communities.

    Tancook Island started it all. I've had a fascination with Tancook for decades. My sister-in-law's mother worked on Little Tancook and I loved her stories and the name. At eight I thought it a great setting for a mystery and wrote (longhand in a Hilary Scribbler) The Mystery on Tancook Island.

    Accidentally, or at the bidding of  my unconscious, my first published novel is set on an island off Nova Scotia. Additional details and ideas for Caleb's Cove came from Tancook and two other Nova Scotia locations. To follow Tancook Island on FB for some great ocean shots, go to: Tancook Island on FB
    For more on Nova Scotia visit: Nova Scotia's South Shore.

    Sweeping his gaze from left to right Greg checked the altered sandy strip, the docks and the rocky protrusions. The waves still arched and crested against the land, splashing through gaps in the boardwalk and sucking back to display the damage. In the harbor beyond, white caps revealed the sea’s continued turmoil. The rhythmic roar and whoosh was primal. He’d wait for calmer seas before launching the dory even if she was designed for rough waters. And you? What are you waiting for?
    Tancook Island-dock in winter

    Came Home Dead 


    Readers, what location would you like to see in a book? 
    Writers, what location inspired a book setting for you?


    Thursday, March 3, 2016

    Who blocks your writing dreams?



        


     

     


    What were your dreams?

    What were the family expectations for you?





    •  I wanted to write mystery stories like Nancy Drew books and Miss Marple stories.
    • Heck, I wanted to solve mysteries like Nancy Drew and be a detective.
    •  I wanted to fix my bicycle myself—not a girly activity in the 60’s—and be a mechanic.
    •  I longed to drive crazy-fast and be a race-car driver.
    •  I loved to play-act and wanted to be an actress.

    AND THEN I FELL VICTIM TO THE FOO – Family of Origin!

    That’s nice dear BUT:


    •  you can’t make money at that
    •  girls don’t do that
    •   <laughter> don’t be silly, ordinary people like us don’t do those things

    I hated the word BUT. However over time, I conformed to the expectations that came with being a small-town minister’s daughter in the ’50’s and 60’s.


    I took figure skating lessons, but never took any tests to get the badges. Testing was on Sunday and we had to pay for them. At that time, exchanging money for goods or services ON THE LORD’S DAY was frowned on. Minister’s daughter had to set an example. No Tests.

     Another phrase I heard often was, ‘what would people think of your father?’

    • ·        if you go the Elvis movie
    • ·        if you date a Roman Catholic
    • ·        if you stay out at that party until midnight?

    And you should have heard the lecture I got when I went to the Homecoming Dance with the captain of the football team. The young man with the wildest reputation in the school who (supposedly) had a condom in his wallet. (And no, I never confirmed that last bit.)

    Looking back, it’s no wonder that I’ve worried about the opinions of the omniscient “they.” That fear slowed me down.

    I see the next generation breaking into a variety of fields, excelling at their work, branching out and being the best they can be. I’m happy for them, I’m excited and I’m proud of them.  The world has come a long way since the 50’s. Thank goodness.

    The FOO may have slowed my down, but it didn't stop me.

    I’ve had my successes in spite of the FOO


    •  First female real estate appraiser in Nova Scotia, drawing down a “man’s” salary in the ‘80s
    • Teacher, trainer and public speaker in a variety of areas
    • And in recent years, author of two published mystery novels.

    I sometimes wonder what I could have accomplished if the FOO had supported me in those early dreams. But I am who I am, and I am happy with me! In retrospect, I learned different lessons and those serve me well in many other ways. I have no regrets - it's been a heck of a ride through life.
    But there is no doubt, the FOO shapes us.
      

    What did your FOO visit on you?

    Did it help you or hinder you? What advice do you offer to others?