Twitterly Love – How gaining support from your Twitter community can make all the difference to your writing career

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Twitter. It shares its popularity with Marmite: you either love it or loathe it. Celebrities love it, Facebook fans despise it.  And writers? Well, writers LOVE twitter. It has a lot to do with being able to show fellow scribes how creative and witty you can be, with only 140 characters at your disposal – including punctuation marks. #DivergentThinking

I love Twitter. As a writer I enjoy meeting (virtually) lots of other writers, poets, those who work in the publishing industry, journalists and some really funny people.   I now belong to an eclectic online community that would not exist were it not for Twitter.  #ItsAWonderfulPlace

Or is it? For every writer who wants to engage and be part of a community there are countless others who view Twitter as just a promotional tool. Some writers – and I am sorry to say it is usually those who are self-published (see my other blogs for my views on that) – tweet constantly about their latest books, complete with amazon  links and reviews. Others are more reticent and will only post their promotional tweets on a weekly basis. None  of these are popular with the writing community.

So, how do you traverse the line between plaguing fellow tweets, and promoting your work?

 I believe that in order to promote your work successful, you need to be supportive towards fellow writers.  #ThinkCourtlyLove

I have applied this to my own activity on Twitter. I have found that the more I retweet my fellow tweeter’s tweets (that’s a difficult thing to write!) and/or comment on their blogs, the more followers I gain and my fellow writers return the favour and retweet my posts. It’s a give-give community.

Overt self-publicity is frowned upon on Twitter. A writer will lose followers if they do not engage with their community. Regardless of how successful they are as a writer. If the only tweets a writer is going to post are about how wonderful their books are selling, then fellow writers will go elsewhere and follow somebody who tweets about educational reform, publishing vs self-publishing, and, cake.  You can never have too many tweets about cake.

You can follow me on @LisaShipman2  #ShamelessPlug

Fantastic NaPoWriMo post by the talented Angela Foxwood…

middleground

I sometimes wonder-

when his eyes meet mine

can he feel my pulse?

There are shadows in sunlight,

I walk alone yet I am surrounded

by each day.

On paper I live in colour, pick strawberries,

draw clouds, like fuzzy felt pictures

or travel, backwards or forwards in life.

Words are vitamins, a daily dose on every page.

And these are mine.

 

A K Foxwood

 

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Benefit Reforms – An open letter from a Benefit Claimant

 ImageToday, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osbourne, will make a speech which defends the coalition Government’s decision to impoverish those who are already living on the breadline. The welfare reforms now enshrined in law have caused a divide between politicians, homeowners, workers and those on benefits themselves. Deliberate or not, the coalition Government have divided a nation. Some believe those on benefits deserve to have their money cut – as they do not earn it, they do not deserve it. Others feel that the rich are the only ones to gain from such devastating cuts.

I must stress that I am not a political analyst. I cannot quote statistics or give a balanced view on the merits of both major political parties. I do not wish to.

I just want to give a layman’s view on what the Government has done to hardworking people, who fall below the threshold of having a comfortable income.  I want to share the impact these cuts have had on a family , my family, that does not fit the prescribed ‘shirkers’ stereotype Mr Osbourne would like the British public to vilify.

I claim Housing Benefit. I also claim Council Tax Benefit and Child Tax Credit. Would it surprise you to know that I am a final year Undergraduate student, have two children ages 13 and 10, one of whom is disabled. My husband works part-time at a well known supermarket. We are clearly not ‘shirkers’.

We have faced a great deal of financial upheaval prior to the benefit changes coming into effect. My husband has lost his entitlement to Working Tax Credits, thanks to the Government’s change to the entitlement thresholds. Far from being a ‘high earner’ my husband does not work enough hours to qualify for Working Tax. Alongside this, my son has lost his entitlement to Disability Living Allowance, despite being registered visually impaired.

You may ask why my husband does not go out and get another job? Or why he works part-time in the first place. The simple answer to that is he had no choice. After being made redundant in 2009, on the back of the Banking Crisis, he was unable to find work anywhere. For every position he applied for, there were countless others vying for the same position.  He was lucky to find work but felt unhappy at taking a part-time job. The Government’s assurances were clear: find work and Working Tax Credits will supplement the shortfall.

For three years my husband has supported his family, on a part-time wage. I have supplemented his income with what little help I receive from Student Finance. We never claimed Housing Benefit nor Council Tax Benefit, prior to the changes made to Working Tax and Disability Living Allowance. We did not have a luxurious lifestyle, but we paid our bills on time and had a little left over to go on family outings, or a trip to the cinema.

Thanks to the Government changes we are now benefit claimants. And have fallen under Mr Osbourne’s ‘shirker’ label. He states that those who ‘get up early in the morning and go to work’ will not be affected by these cuts. In fact those who work will be better off. How? Our income has already been reduced by £300 per month, this past year. How can reducing our income by another £60 per month make things any easier?

Mr Osbourne would like you to believe that those on benefits are the deserving poor. Please do not believe the propaganda. These cuts will not make things fairer. They will stigmatise those who need the most help.

This is an heartfelt account of why traditional publishing should not be pushed aside by the emerging trend of ebook publications.

middleground

It is worrying to me that my beloved books may soon be a thing of the past. With the growth of e-readers and e-publishing, that feeling of holding a creation, its worn, slightly faded pages, in my hands could fade away with tape recorders and typewriters. From what I am witnessing, I believe that within five years the ‘big five’ (because two recently became one) will either have transferred completely to e-books, or gone under. To think that my son will grow up with his entire book collection stored on a microchip, breaks my heart. But to him, this will be the norm. He won’t need storage boxes and walls of shelves like I do. He won’t have the problem of where to put all of those university essential reading tomes, or trawling around bookshops to see if they stock Francois Sagan. And the dust- that beautiful moment when you open a wonderfully…

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Poetry for the soul.

personality theories

 if Erikson’s theories are true

then I have moved onto

stage seven

and you

are basking

in stage six

you spread yourself

lux

urious

ly

over everyone, everything

i am left behind

accused of being too clever

too sensible

feed my ego

you whisper in my ear

i feed you

Plato, Plath

Moore

i read you sonnets

each number resonates

too deeply within me

each page turn

a paper cut

deep within my heart

and try as i might

i cannot translate them

they mean nothing to you

you want more

you want flesh

you take me

pound by pound

pounding, pounding,

groaning, sweating,

this is love, you say

as my head hits the board

This

Is

Love.

if Erikson’s theories are true

i am in love with you

and you

you are in love with yourself

 I created this piece after reading Personality Theories: Erik Erikson 1902-1994, by Dr. George Boeree. Erikson followed on from Freud although he believed there are more than three stages of psychological development of infants and children. Erikson devised a model which included eight stages of psychological growth. Stage six deals with the transition from adolescence to adulthood (18-20’s). He summised that by the time a adult reaches their 30s they know more about love, fidelity and commitment. Those who have tackled this stage of their lives, without conflict, move onto stage seven: it is a time when most adults consider raising a family. They also become increasingly aware of the importance of society and their role within it. More fulfilled adults will also look for career advancement and/or personal development.

I added this information for reference only. I think the poem works equally well, without knowing who Erikson is. I hope you enjoy reading it. Please feel free to comment – positive and negative are both welcome here!

Second Issue Now Open For Submissions

Well worth a look. The Poor Press; literary fiction and poetry.

The Poor Press

A very happy new year from the Poor Press!

We are delighted to announce that submissions for our second edition are open! The theme for this issue is ‘Small Mercies’ and the deadline for submissions is the 7th of March. (Please note the deadline has been extended!)

As before we welcome any form or genre responding to the title theme, in less than 500 words. We are also looking for an illustrator or photographer to feature on our front cover and in an interior double page spread.

Before you contact us we recommend you view our submission guidelines here.

We very much look forward to reading your entries, which should be directed to us as usual at thepoorpress@gmail.com with the subject line ‘Small Mercies’.

Throughout 2013 we will host events for readers and writers alike. You will be notified of these through our mailing list or you can follow…

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To self-publish or not self-publish, that is the question.

Since when has having an agent been a bench-mark for great writing?

I’ve noticed an emerging trend on social media sites recently. It’s a ‘them’ versus ‘us’ war of words. On one side of the camp you have traditionally published authors. On the other, there are THOSE WHO SHALL NOT BE NAMED: the self-published writers. But where has all of this aminosity come from?

I read a post on reddit entitled: ‘A short rant on self-publishing’. It was a short rant, so the title was correct. But most of what was written smacked of sour grapes. Here is a quote from the blog:

Self-publishing seems to me a cheat, a farce. And the ebook revolution is only making matters worse. Instead of publishers selecting well-written prose, any hack with a computer and a couple of bucks to spare can throw their work on the web and offer it to people cheap-as-free.

I was intrigued by this. Who exactly is being cheated? Are the readers being cheated because the author has not gone through the correct channels of publication? I’d like to offer this question out to the blogging community: Has anybody read a printed book, which was badly written or had a terrible plot and wooden characters? I know I have.

There is a great deal of misconception about ebooks. I know there are countless bad examples out there, and usually its the free ones that have shoddy fonts/terrible grammar/spelling mistakes. But if done well, ebooks shine. Mel Sherrat is a fine example of a self-published writer. She does not ‘throw’ her work on the web. She spends more than ‘a couple of bucks’ on the editorial process.
Ultimately, the public will vote with their wallets. Many large chain bookstores are facing an uncertain future. Amazon is basking in record sales for books of both formats. Agree or disagree, ebooks are here to stay.

Another fine interview from @EMAlderd

Strange Alliances

At the Dying of the Year Book Cover

I’m very fortunate that, at the moment, Chris Nickson lives in Nottingham. We had initially bumped into each other on Twitter and because of this I began reading his Richard Nottingham books. We finally met in Derby on a tweet-up after I had interviewed independent researcher Helen Kara (coming up soon). Not wanting to waste the opportunity, I interviewed Chris on the way back to Nottingham in a remarkably noisy sprinter train. Between the roar of the power units and singing children, I told Chris that this was the most unusual place I had ever interviewed a writer. Chris had no trouble toping that several times over. I suspect if he ever got down to writing an autobiography it would make riveting reading. So I am sure that Chris’s wealth of life experience will ensure we’re going to be treated to a huge variety of fascinating books for many years…

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A beautiful, tightly constructed poem, transmuting the personal to the poetical.

avbarber

An unusual blog this week as for only the second time I am publishing a poem. Regular visitors will know that usually I only publish poems as a part of a collection, but there are occasionally exceptions, and today is one of them.

I was recently persuaded to break one of my golden rules of NEVER entering poetry competitions and submitted to the Fenland Poet Laureate event. I have since discovered I haven’t made the shortlist which means I can now share the work with you.

I will give a brief explanation of the poem following its line.

Lady of the Fen
By spring in rise from slumber long,
She smiles with light and morning song.
In fertile bloom as colours burst,
Her gentle arms, embrace while nurse.

A lady as by summer’s grace,
Adorned in ribbons and gilded lace.
Braids of green while flaxen hair,
With softest touch and…

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