Carrie’s Top 5 List of Danielle’s 2015 Posts

5 Favorite Blog PostsFollowing are my five favorite posts of those Danielle published this year. By way of explanation, these are the posts I enjoyed the most or learned the most from. I can’t rank them (which was the funniest, which was the most instructive, etc.) because they’re all good. So I’m presenting them in alphabetical order.

I hope you enjoy them again!

Or, if you’re new to Indie Plot Twist, I hope you’ll enjoy them for the first time.

A Different Way to Identify Your Target Audience

Writers—and others—hear all the time that they must identify their target audience and create an ideal reader. The problem is that most of those admonitions lack concrete advice. We know we need to do it. Tell us how. That’s just what Danielle has done in this post.

Embrace the Muck that is First Draft

LOL, who can’t identify with this concept! While Danielle’s talking specifically about those hardy souls who do NaNoWriMo each year, the principles she shares apply to all authors and all first drafts. Whether or not you ever participate in NaNo, you can benefit from her helpful and sensible tips while wading through your own first drafts.

I Write Fiction. What Should I Blog About?

Ah. This is something I wrestle with just like every other unpublished fiction author. What in the world do I blog about!? She even includes the first thing I thought I should do but shouldn’t have.  But she doesn’t stop there and includes lists of potential topics in two categories. If you’re a fiction author and if you’re still unpublished, but you want to blog—or are blogging—this could be one of the most helpful posts you’ll read this month.

First Draft: Several Thousand Things That Won’t Work

I didn’t even need to read this post to know it would be a favorite! Why? Because I have my own list of things that didn’t work. But that’s another post. Danielle’s list of wrong turns, blind alleys, and rabbit trails is not only fun and funny, it’s very helpful. Whether you’re working on a first draft, getting ready for revisions, or have yet to get started, this post is well worth the read.

How to Be a Massively Successful Author

In this post, Danielle tackles a few of the major hurdles every writer must get over in order to realize success. It’s a good basic guide for writers of all ages and at all levels of publication.

5 Tips for Blogging Your Way Through the Holidays

5 Tips for Blogging Through the HolidaysThe year-end holidays are rapidly approaching. Thanksgiving is this coming Thursday. (Doesn’t it seem like we just celebrated Thanksgiving?)

If you’re a blogger, the holidays can be a difficult time to get any writing done. Actually, they can be a difficult even if you don’t blog.

I’ve been blogging somewhere for about ten years. I make no claims to knowing everything there is to know on the subject—who does? But I know more than I did ten years ago.

Here at Indie Plot Twist, I’m responsible for five weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year so I’m going to share five ideas for getting through the season. Some of them I know I’ll use; some I may not. You’ll have to check in each of the next five weeks to see!

Holiday Memories

I’m planning to publish memories of Thanksgiving in the old farmhouse on my personal/author blog around Thanksgiving. It’s been written for several weeks because I got a chance to trip down memory lane and do some creative writing just for fun. It’s a pretty decent post, too, if I say so myself.

Pick a favorite Thanksgiving or Christmas and describe it. Or you might choose a funny one or an unusual one.

For Christmas, you could also describe the best (or worst) gift you received (or gave). There’s four posts right there!

Link Posts

Last December, I listed five blogs every writer should read. I provided links to each blog, a few lines about what the blog was about, and why I thought it was important. It was easy to write and proved quite popular.

You can do the same thing. The best part about this type of post is that you can write it now, schedule it, and be done with it!

List Posts

This is like a link post, but with a theme. The theme can be whatever you want it to be. Favorite movies. Favorite recipes. Favorite books.

Last December, I shared my favorite posts from all those Danielle wrote in 2014. Danielle turned right around and published a list of her favorite posts from all those I’d written.

Find a blogger you really like and share your favorite links with your readers. Just make sure the posts you share will also interest your readers.

Photo Essay

If you like photography, put together a photo essay. It could be a themed essay such as Christmas decorations or snowfall or it could be an unthemed collection of favorite photos. You might even show your favorites from the entire year. Sort of a look back over the year in images.

The one thing I’d stress with a post of this type is that you use pictures you’ve taken. That gives the photo essay a more personal feel.

Seasons Greetings

Christmas 2014Then there are always seasons greeting posts. This is what Danielle posted here last year.

Not only are they quick and easy to read for your readers; they give you an opportunity to connect with your readers in a manner that’s less formal and more personal.

Besides, if you make your own electronic greetings, it can be a lot of fun!

And if you do a Thanksgiving greeting and a Christmas greeting, you’ve taken care of two weeks.

The reason I like these types of posts is that they can be written and scheduled ahead of time. I made holiday greetings and inserted them into posts for my personal blog in the middle of September (or was it August).

When it comes to the holidays, the more posts you can schedule in advance, the less blogging work you’ll have during the holidays.

And the more you can enjoy the holiday-specific work with family!

Do you have other tips for blogging through the holidays? Share one or two in the comment box below.

5 Ideas for Your First Blog Post

So you’ve taken the big step. You thought about whether or not to blog and decided it was a good idea. You asked yourself pertinent questions before getting started and you set up your blog. Everything is the way you want it, the blog is live. You’re ready to start.

2015-07-06 Question Mark Chalk BoardThere’s only one problem.

You have no idea what to write about!

Danielle recently shared a few thoughts on that very topic. She suggested ideas for fiction writers to blog about. Some time ago, I also tackled the issue and you can read that post here.

All of those posts are good and you’ll want to read them, but I know they don’t answer all the questions. How do I know? Because I’ve been in your position more than once. I had to come up with the very first post for my very first blog many years ago.

Every new blog has also required a first post. I wish the blogging platform gurus—or someone!—would come up with a plugin to take care of this, but until that happens, there’s no way around it. Someone HAS to write the first post.

You are that someone!

Personal Experience

Danielle and I have both started author blogs since starting this blog. Granted, the target audiences for each blog is different, but they all needed that dreaded First Post.

So between us, there are three first posts.

We also listed possible post ideas.

Danielle’s list wasn’t specifically for first posts, but you might still want to take a look at it. She suggested blogging about a real-life place that inspired your fictional setting and abstract things like social issues related to your novel. For instance, her lead character is a fatherless girl, so fatherlessness is one thing Danielle blogs about very well. You may not want to jump right into those sorts of things on your first post, but then again, you might.

My ideas for a first post included a personal introduction (sort of like an informal bio), telling readers what you write and why. If you’re published, you can talk about the books you’ve published and if you’re not published, you can blog a little bit about what you’re working on.

But is that all there is? That’s a pretty short list. Granted, you only need to write one first post, but is that all there is?

5 Ideas for First Blog Posts

What type of story do you write? This includes such details as genre, sub-genre and that sort of thing. If you write more than one genre, there’s a wealth of possible posts in answering just this question.

But even if you specialize in one genre, this is a great place to start. Tell readers why you like that genre and what got you started writing in that genre.

woods-and-waterLocation, location, location. Where is your current work-in-progress set? Is it an actual location? Talk about that place. Even if it isn’t an actual location, if your setting is based on a specific location, you can talk about that place and how it’s similar—and different from—your fictional setting. Want to see how this is done well? Check out Danielle’s author blog. Her novel is based on Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, so you can see how to weave fiction and reality into a very nice tapestry.

If your story world is totally made up—as in fantasy or science fiction—you could post about how the story world came into being. Where did the idea start? How did you develop it?

Do you have maps or drawings? This would be a great place to share them. Personally speaking, I love maps of story world. It gives me a sense of place beyond the story itself.

manual-typewriterHow do you write? What’s your writing process. Where do your story ideas come from. Some of your readers will be interested in what goes on behind the writing scenes, but be careful. A little bit goes a long way unless your target audience is full of writers.

Works-in-Progress. This may seem like a no-brainer, but I’ve discovered that if I don’t state the obvious, I quite often overlook it. So let’s talk about that novel in progress. Don’t go into deep detail because you don’t want to give anything away, but tell your readers something about the story.

This would be an ideal place for a paragraph summary or back cover copy. Yes, you’ll have to take time to come up with paragraph summary, but what’s the harm in that? It will give you a blog post and define your novel a little more clearly in your mind. That’s a good thing. Trust me.

Current Events Related to your WIP. This works especially well if you happen to be writing a political thriller, prophetical, or legal or procedural thriller, but it works for any novel that has anything to do with current events.

Working on a historical novel? That’s okay. This topic works just as well with past events—recent or ancient. If you are writing a historical novel, you have the added benefit of writing about the ways people lived back then.

If none of those sound right, you can always start like I did by telling people why you write or what gives you inspiration.

If you’re getting the idea that there’s really no right topic for a first blog post, you’re getting the idea.  First posts are as unique and individual as bloggers. No two bloggers will begin their blogging careers with the same type of post.

So try on a few posts before you hit the publish button. Write until you find the right one.

But even if you publish the first post you write, don’t fret. You’ll get better at writing blog posts with every post you write. Think of it as on the job training. Write. Learn. Write some more. Repeat.

You’ll do fine!

How to Use the Revive Old Post Plugin to Tweet Old Content

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I’d installed a new plugin on one of my blogs. Revive Old Post. For those who are interested, I thought I’d share more information about it.

The Revive Old Post plugin is available from the WordPress plugin repository. It’s a free plugin that comes with a paid add-on, which makes it ideal for trying out. The free version is very useful, but there are a couple of features that make the $10 upgrade fee for the Pro version very cost effective.

I installed the plugin on my old writing blog. Carrie Lynn Lewis Writing Well was my first writing blog. When I upgraded design and moved my writing blog to a new domain, the old blog was still popular enough that I decided to keep it going as an archive base.

But I wanted to continue presenting evergreen (always useful) content without having to log into the blog every day or week or manually schedule through an app like HootSuite.

So I looked around for a suitable plugin. After a rabbit trail or two, I found Revive Old Post.

Revive Old Post

Formerly known as Tweet Old Post, Revive Old Post allows you to present old content to your tweeps.

It’s very easy to install and set up. It took me about 20 minutes, but I like this sort of thing. The average, non-tech inclined user can still install and configure the plugin quickly. The default settings are very functional, so unless you really enjoy getting into the guts of a plugin, install it, activate it, and go. If that describes you, you can install it and have it tweeting old content in ten minutes or less.

For those who are interested, here’s a step-by-step on customizing Revive Old Post.

Accounts

Link to your social media accounts here. The basic free version includes options for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Xing, and Tumblr.

Select the ones you want to link to. You’ll be asked to sign into each account remotely, but this is just so the plugin knows where to send your content.

See the little blue bird to the right of the Twitter option? If you have multiple Twitter accounts, you can link to each one, but only if you have the Pro version.

General Settings

On the General Settings tab, you can customize settings for tweet frequency, minimum and maximum age of posts, the number of posts to share each time, and the categories and tags you want to exclude from posting.

One of the options I most appreciate with this plugin is the option to set frequency for less than one hour. For example, notice I’ve typed in .45 on the first line. My posts will go out every 45 minutes. With almost 200 posts from which to choose, I can post at that rate and still not duplicate posts for several days.

It also causes tweets to appear at different times around the clock. For most of my scheduled tweets, I prefer to stick to the top and bottom of each hour. This rotating schedule gives me the flexibility to post in between those times.

The plugin automatically loads all the categories you’ve used. From that list, you can select those you want to exclude.

What should you exclude?

Posts that are time sensitive such as giveaways or limited time offers are good candidates for exclusion. The giveaway or offer has expired, so there’s no sense in advertising it. If you do tweet those posts, you run the risk of confusing tweeps at best and maybe even alienating them.

I’ve selected a few here to illustrate the process.

Tags are also loaded by the plugin and you can select tags to exclude by checking the boxes.

If you haven’t been using tags on your posts, there will not be a tag list or it will be limited to the default tag, which is Uncategorized with WordPress. If that’s the only tag showing, don’t check it. If you do, you’ll have nothing to post!

Post Format

On this tab, you determine how your tweets will look.

Post content defaults to the title only, but you also can choose body only, title and body, or a custom field. Click on the blue down arrow to access the drop down menu and make your selection. If you choose the custom field option, you will have to tell Revive Old Post what field to use. That setting is line 3 on this tab.

You can also set the length of the post (140 is the default), add additional text and position the additional text, choose whether or not to include a hyperlink (the default is yes), and decide whether or not to shorten the link.

Finally, if you so choose, you can have hashtags added to the tweet. I tried a couple variations on this, but was unsatisfied with the control provided by the free version of Revive Old Post. I either had too many hashtags or none.

One note here, if you haven’t been paying any attention to the way you title your posts, now is the time to start. When the title of a post is all a tweep sees, they need to have a clear idea what the post is about. You also need to give them as many possible reasons to click the link and read more as you can. Clever, cute, or humorous titles usually aren’t the best way to go.

Don’t worry if you haven’t given post titles much thought in the past. I never used to, either, and I was a big fan of clever titles. But choosing the right title is important when the post first publishes and it’s even more important when you start using a republishing plugin of any type.

Now, back to the regular programming…

Post Previews

This feature is another of my favorite things about this plugin. After you’ve customized the settings, click on the Preview Post link at the bottom of the page and a sample post will appear in this pop up.

If you like what you see, click the Post Now link and off it goes.

If you don’t like it, close the preview, change the settings you want to change, and try another preview.

This is an invaluable tool, in my opinion. I went through this process three or four times before getting things the way I wanted them. Without being able to preview posts, I would have had to have my Twitter account opened to see tweets and would have had to delete anything I didn’t like.

Going Pro

The Pro version costs $59 per year for personal use (one blog). For that price, you get the options to upload images as well as post titles. You can also do more precise scheduling. Even for a frugal person like me, that’s a good buy.

Conclusion

I’m very happy with this plugin on my older blog. I had no difficulties in installing it–the entire process took less than 20 minutes and the first seven minutes was watching a video review. I’ve been using the plugin since May 2 and so far, it’s performed flawlessly.

But you don’t have to take my word for it. Here’s the video review. It’s from Brett Bumeter at VidMag. Brett has upgraded to the pro version so you get a little more information on that option.