Sunday, November 27, 2011

Social Media Done Wrong

As if writers needed anything more to occupy our time, the advent of social media has ensured that our days are filled with tweets, Facebook posts and pages. Article after article stresses the importance of good social interaction: we have to be on Google+, Twitter, Linked In AND Facebook, because the days of the invisible author are OVER! Social karma and etiquette demands that we tweet and re-tweet, follow and be interesting in every message.

Here's where I fess up: I'm a social media failure. I rarely use Twitter and post more on my personal Facebook page to catch up with family in Barbados or the UK, than I add anything to my author page. For all the advice which says authors should be actively using social media to promote our work, I give a half-hearted, grudging shrug. Sometimes I try the techniques suggested, but more often than not, it's a failure from the outset because I just don't believe it helps. I do nothing to promote Sultana through the usual social channels, yet it consistently sells well each month. Beyond the occasional monthly promotion on my website or mention of it on this blog, I don't talk about it. Yet people are finding the book, writing me, visiting my web pages and talking about the story in their reading groups. The social media pundits must forgive me for saying so, but the best promotion of an author's work is a good book. It isn't spamming each other every day with our latest reviews and "buy my book" pitches. Good social media usage is the same as conducting ourselves like normal people offline - would you ask someone to marry you one minute after the initial meeting? So, why DM people about buying your book as soon as they follow you on Twitter?  
Stop spamming your friends! If they like your book, they'll buy it.
I don't doubt that social media can be an effective tool when it's used the right way. How's that? Start by letting people get to know YOU. When we look for the best advice, we turn to those whom we trust, our friends. Friendships aren't established overnight - they're earned through time and trust. For an author just starting out, it can feel as we have to rush into everything and use every means at our disposal to get our names out there as quickly as possible. Just as a good friendship takes time to grow, so to does good social interaction and karma take time to produce results. Unfortunately, some of us are going about this the wrong way and alienating the very people we're trying to reach. How many people have you unfollowed on Twitter or deleted as friends as Facebook, just because all they do is promote their work all day?

Go forth and be social! The right way.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Updated website and blog

Have you ever seen a grown woman dissolve in a fit of total despair? You would have last week, when Tripod completely @#$%^&*"}?! my old site.

I'm a big girl, but watching years of hard work just disappear because someone at Tripod felt it was time for a site upgrade was NOT fun. Web stats? Gone. Ability to sell books directly from the site? Poof! Other custom HTML and hidden exclusives for readers of my book? No more. As for Tripod - gone too, at least my reliance on the company for web hosting. Never cancelled a contract so fast in my life.

If there's one thing I love about being a Scorpio, it's that wallowing in misery for too long is not an option. So, I spent part of what should have been a restful weekend setting up a new website. While those custom QR codes I had designed for readers of my book will now point to public pages that everyone can access, at least I salvaged most of the original elements. You can now find me on the web at Please be sure to check out the new site and let me know what you think.

For a long time, I've wanted to link this blog to my website. Now that I've done that, it seemed time to update the look and feel too. This particular theme includes the Brooklyn Bridge, which fits perfectly given the blog's title - you got all that, right? 

Necessity isn't the only mother of invention. Sometimes, disaster works just as well.    

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Joy of Just Writing

After a ten-day business trip to Canada, it's back to the daily grind for me, which usually involves a hellish commute. My bus route takes me past Zucotti Park in lovely downtown Manhattan, but this morning I didn't even look up to see what might be happening with the Occupy Wall Street protesters. I'll give you a good guess why, and it wouldn't be because I've grown tired of trying to understand what this movement hopes to accomplish. No, I was too busy writing scenes of my next, The Burning Candle.

Years ago, I used to wake up early in the morning and write for an hour before I went to work. My productivity level often soared after a decent night's sleep and the creative energies would just flow on to the page and later, computer screen. Lately? To hell with that! I need as much rest as I can get, especially since my sleeping habits border on insomnia. I've started spending more mornings on Twitter and email than doing the one thing I love best.

Crazy, right?
I can't blame my former malaise on a lack of energy or sleep. It's also has a lot to do with my foray into self-publishing. Four of my books are now available for sale since summer 2010. Expect two or three in 2012, dependent on whether I can get various pieces in place. In the past 17 months, I've spent so much more time than I ever expected on the books I have produced, with scant attention on the manuscript I'd like to finish. The concept of completing a manuscript just so I can sell the book makes me queasy; I swear, my stomach just tied in knots as I wrote that line. If there is one negative aspect of self-publishing , it's that it has changed how I view writing. What used to be a joy is now a chore; one more thing than has to be done in an otherwise busy day. I can't wait to type "The End" so I can be done with the damned thing, yet I dread all that comes afterward. I don't like feeling that way. I want to get back to the place where I loved to write, just for the sake of telling a good story. I plan to get back to the joy of just writing, one morning at a time. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A letter to my 18-year old self

Eighteen years ago today when I turned eighteen, I was a first semester sophomore at SUNY Stony Brook, which apparently must now be referred to as the slightly more pretentious prestigious Stony Brook University. I got a great education there and had a blast with my best buds. It was far enough from home for the experience of living away, yet close enough so I could hop on the train and surprise my mom for her birthday / raid the fridge and cupboards / beg for money. I had all the hopes of dreams any person would have at eighteen, including plans to become a lawyer making thousands and thousands of dollars at a job that I would find incredibly interesting. Yeah.

Eighteen years later, things haven't quite turned out the way I expected, in some good, bad and very interesting ways. If I could talk to my eighteen year-old self, I'd have a lot to say about acceptance of people and situations. This would be some of my sage advice: 
  • Don't worry about becoming a lawyer or any of that career track you're on now. Inside of you, the heart of a writer beats with one desire: to share your love of storytelling with the world, one reader at a time. It's not going to be easy, but you don't take the easy route on anything.
  • Enjoy these college years to the fullest, because what's coming will require harder work, tougher commitments and bigger decisions than anything you've faced before.
  • Develop better eating habits now and exercise more. Otherwise, your family history of diabetes and hypertension is going to catch up with you.
  • Friendships change in ways you don't expect. People will come and go out of your life for different reasons. Accept them for who they are when they are there and wish them well when they are gone. 
  • You’re never going to forget your first love. No matter what happens, he’ll leave his mark. Don’t make assumptions about other guys based on him. Learn to love again without fear. 
  • Your parents aren't perfect. Forgive your father for his frailties and love him despite them, cause in a few years, he'll be gone and you'll only have your mom. She's going to depend on you a lot more, even though she taught you to be very independent. Remember the strength inside you comes from her.
  • Get to know your sister a lot better too. It may seem like a generational divide now, but she will become your most constant ally and supporter, if you let her. And, she's going to be the best mom in the world and you will be the proudest aunt.
  • Whatever's going wrong now will be meaningless in a few months and years. Laugh more.
  • And by the way, you're going to LOVE your thirties!  

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Sultana & Sultana's Legacy FREE

Starting today, I'm offering TWO Goodreads giveaways that will run all month long, each for three paperback copies of Sultana and Sultana's Legacy. It's my way of celebrating the completion of the latest book in my series on Moorish Spain. Winners will be chosen by Goodreads at random and I'll provide each with a signed paperback copy of one of the books.

You can enter the drawing by clicking the links below. Good luck!  

Goodreads Book Giveaway
Sultana's Legacy by Lisa J. Yarde

Sultana's Legacy

by Lisa J. Yarde

Giveaway ends November 30, 2011.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Sultana by Lisa J. Yarde


by Lisa J. Yarde

Giveaway ends November 30, 2011.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win
Want to download the e-book copies of Sultana and Sultana's Legacy for FREE now? All you have to do is pay me with a Tweet. Yes, you read that correctly. Go to my website and click the Historical Fiction link, or copy and paste the following link into your browser, Choose from Sultana, Sultana's Legacy, or get them both. All you have to do is click on the Pay With a Tweet button next to your selection. The application connects to your Twitter account and asks you to send the Tweet to your followers. You can modify the text of the tweet, but you can't alter the link to my site. After you've Tweeted, you'll be redirected to Media Fire, where you can get the Kindle and / or Nook copies of the ebook of your choice.    

Time flies when you're having fun, or writing novels.

It's been a tremendous twelve months. A new job and health issues have impacted my writing time, but I'm still at it, trying to wrap...