Sunday, March 27, 2011

Twitter and Third Grade Kickball

In third grade I had a crush on a kid named Eric and I loved playing kickball. Loved. What I loved more than playing kickball was winning at kickball. Burned into my memory is the day my teacher chose me as team captain. Being team captain meant all sort of wonderfulness. I got to be the roller and I got a reprieve from standing in line praying that I wasn’t picked last.

Of course, the first kid I picked was Eric and I intended my friend, Tiffany, to be next. As the other team captain (also a girl) worried over which of her two best friends she should pick first, Eric whispered in my ear to pick Mark. Wow – dilemma time. Do I pick who I want, Tiffany, or do I make Eric happy? Eric presented very good reasons on why I should select Mark, all of which he explained while the other girl did eeny meeny miny moe: if I wanted to win, which he knew I did, I would pick who he suggested.

Standing in line, staring at me, waiting patiently for me to pick her was Tiffany. Guess what? I picked her then I chose exactly who Eric told me to select. From the first day of school, I dreamed about being team captain. I thought the moment would be awesome and exhilarating. It was, but then it wasn’t. Nothing made me more uncomfortable than when we got down to selecting the final two. The pressure rested on me who would be chosen last. Eric – who had plenty of opinions until that point, told me I could choose.

That moment severely sucked – I had to put someone in the scenario I prayed so hard would never happen to me.

So what does any of this have to do with social networking? Nothing really, other than when after I sold my manuscript, my agent encouraged me to join Twitter. When I opened my Twitter account, the memories of that day in third grade tumbled into the forefront of my brain. I knew no one. Not a soul. It was just me, my profile, my profile picture, and my whole zero Twitter followers! I was officially the last kid.

Unlike Facebook, when you follow someone on Twitter, they don’t automatically follow you back. As I selected my first people to follow, the day in third grade rested heavily on my heart. Would I be the one person on the face of the planet with zero Twitter followers? Would I become the laughing stock of the writing community as the only pre-published author no one wanted to follow? Would my agent and publishing house look at me and my zero followers and wonder what the hell they were doing with me?

Um…no, but try telling that to the very pessimistic side of me that took over that evening.

A few minutes later my first follower showed up. By the end of the night, I had five followers. Five. Me and my whole five Twitter followers were going to take over the world (Mwa hahaha). Okay – not really, but I had to think of something to make me laugh. Entering the world of Twitter was a very humbling experience.

Not only did I have to find people to follow, I hoped that people would follow me. Then if and when anyone did follow me, I had to have something worth saying in 140 characters or less and it should be interesting. Wow – that’s no pressure.

So, while I’ve gone on to have more than five followers (I’ve broken in to triple digits), I’m not even close to suggesting that I have figured Twitter out. Stumbling around in the darkness with ear muffs is probably a better way to describe it. With that being said, I have learned a few things that I would love to pass along to anyone else considering jumping into the deep end of the ocean:

Who to follow? Well, anyone, but I suggest following people who would interest you.

• Is there an author you really like or admire? See if they are on Twitter.
• At first, I found most of the people I followed by going through organizations I belong to – YARWA, SCBWI, and the Apocalypsies. Some of my friends in these organizations have what are called Twitter lists. Twitter lists are created by the user so they can follow the Twitter feeds of that specific group instead of scrolling down all the feeds to find those specific people. Sometimes I used my friend's Twitter lists to find people to follow. For instance, one of the Apocalypsies made a list of all the other Apocalypsies on Twitter. I went to her list to find them.
• Twitter is also helpful in suggesting who to follow.
• If I’m reading a blog, I will now look to see if they have a link to Twitter so I can follow them.

How do you attract followers?
• Be active. Like everything else in life, you have to participate for people to know who you are. Don’t consider yourself a social butterfly? Don’t worry about it. You’re only typing 140 characters. No one will see you sweating or your red cheeks or know that you reread your twitter fifteen times before you posted it.
• Comment on other people’s twitter comments. I’ll be honest, I smile when I notice someone has replied to something I said on Twitter. I imagine most people feel the same way. If they aren’t following you before, they may follow you if you show an interest in them.
• Talk about a wide range of things. I’m a writer so I talk about writing. I’m writing a story that involves baseball and I love music so sometimes I talk about that. Most of my Twitter followers are writers, but I also have a few Mumford & Sons fans and baseball fans following me now.

Random things I’ve learned along the way:
• Twitter is a great tool for promotion which is why my agent suggested it, but Twitter should not be used only as a promotional tool. If the only reason you get on it is to push your blog or book people will notice. I have a tendency to overlook those links because I don’t know anything about those people. On the flip side, if someone who actively tweets about random things in their life and is invested in the Twitter community posts a link – I’m more likely to check the link out.
• Don’t Retweet everything. I can’t stand it when the same person Retweets fifty things in a row. Retweeting can be fun and awesome, but pick your favorite ones or divide them out amongst the day. Maybe this is something that annoys only me.
• Don’t let Twitter overtake your life. It can become very consuming. I started following people in batches of fives (kind of like querying agents). I slowly worked up to the Twitter following I have now. I’m in Twitter to network. It won’t help me if I follow a thousand people in the first week and then can’t cultivate a single relationship because I’m too overwhelmed with all the feeds.

I still have lots to learn and welcome any tips, advice, and comments on the above.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Heather Smith Meloche

I've written for television news, print news, and corporate marketing, and I taught English as a Second Language at the college level for over a decade. However, with the birth of my first son, I started writing children's poems and stories. After taking a course with The Institute of Children’s Literature, my first story, “Mrs. McRitter’s Cricket,” appeared in SPIDER magazine. I also published in ONCE UPON A TIME, and went on to have my short story, “The Fog Bell,” place 5th for the children’s/YA category in the 2007 WRITER'S DIGEST Annual Competition. Through work-for-hire assignments, I co-wrote two picture books, The Clubhouse Conundrum and Cubbie The Mackinac Island Bear. The latter book is currently selling well in Northern Michigan. Somewhere along the way, I found my sixteen-year-old writing voice and began writing young adult novels. In 2011, I won 1st place in the children’s/YA category of the WRITER'S DIGEST Annual Competition for my middle grade short story, “The Emperor’s New Crows,” and I also placed 1st in the HUNGER MOUNTAIN Katherine Paterson Prize for a young adult story in verse titled, “Him.” I am a member of the Society of Children's Book Writer's and Illustrators (SCBWI) as well as a member of Romance Writer's of America (RWA). I currently live in Rochester Hills, Michigan with my very witty and wonderful husband, two beautiful sons, my big fluffy white dog, and two curious cats.  

Current Projects:

Mending Medusa -- A YA historical fantasy about a girl plucked from the streets of Athens by Athena to become a slave to Medusa on the Gorgons' island.

The Crystal Walk -- In this dystopian YA novel, Analiv Collins has been chosen by the Gods to cross from her labor-intensive, smog-filled world into a world of divinity and perfection. At first, it seems like a miraculous blessing, but Analiv quickly discovers that the Heaven her people have prayed to for ages is far from divine.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Lisa Tapp

Lisa lives outside Louisville, Kentucky with her wonderdog, Pooka. (Her three grown children are scattered across the US.) Her passion for writing surfaced early and was encouraged through every step of her formal education. She recently decided to pursue this passion toward a goal of publication. Her interest turned to YA following a visit to the Smithsonian "Bones" exhibit. "Finding Beth," her first YA manuscript, is set at the Jamestown Rediscovery site in Virginia. It's the story of a sixteen-year-old who confronts her issues of love and loss as she helps the ghost of an original settler search for the remains of his wife.

Jus Accardo

Jus Accardo is the author of YA paranormal romance and urban fantasy fiction. A native New Yorker, she lives in the middle of nowhere with her husband, three dogs, and sometimes guard bear, Oswald.

DEBUT: Touch (November 2011 from Entangled Publishing)

A seventeen-year-old adrenaline junkie with a penchant for irritating her father goes on the run with a boy whose touch kills, inadvertently igniting a war between the powerful corporation who "owns" him, and a rogue group of talents determined to bring them down.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Kristen Simmons

BIO: Kristen was raised in Sparks, Nevada, just below Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. In high school she was a triple threat of awesomeness: Girl Scouts, Jazz Choir, and marching band. She attended several colleges in several states before finally receiving a BA in psychology and a master’s in social work. After working everywhere from a domestic violence shelter to a group home for at-risk teens, she became a mental health therapist. After surrendering to the addiction of all things chocolate, she became a Jazzercise instructor.

Kristen is married, and has a rescued greyhound named Rudy. Her first novel, ARTICLE 5, the first installment of her young adult dystopian trilogy, will be released by Tor Teen in February 2012. Learn more about Kristen and her writing at

DEBUT: ARTICLE 5 (Tor Teen, Winter 2012)

New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC have been abandoned.

The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes.

There are no more police — instead, there are soldiers. There are no more fines for bad behavior — instead, there are arrests, trials, and maybe worse. People who get arrested don’t usually come back.

17-year-old Ember Miller is old enough to remember that things weren’t always this way. Living with her rebellious single mother, it’s hard to forget that people weren’t always arrested for reading the wrong books or staying out after dark. That life in the United States used to be different.

In the three years since the war ended, Ember has perfected the art of keeping a low profile. She knows how to get the things she needs, like food stamps and hand-me-down clothes, and how to pass the random home inspections by the Federal Bureau of Reformation. Her life is as close to peaceful as circumstances allow. That is, until her mother is arrested for noncompliance with Article 5 of the Moral Statutes. And what’s worse, one of the arresting officers is none other than Chase Jennings…the only boy Ember has ever loved.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Bethany Griffin

Hi, I'm Bethany Griffin, and I've been stalling to post anything about me, because I've been waiting for this to become official, and it just did, on Friday!

Young Adult
Bethany Griffin's MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH, a post-Apocalyptic reimagining of Poe's gothic horror story of the same name, in which a girl trying to escape everything holds not only her own life in her hands, but also those of two boys warring for her heart...and the fate of her crumbling society, to Martha Mihalick at Greenwillow Books, in a three-book deal, for publication in Summer 2012, byMichael Bourret at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management (NA).

 I am a high school English teacher. Besides English II, I teach Young Adult Literature, Speculative Literature, A Survey of Poetry and Lyrics, and Creative Writing. I love my job!

After the publication of my first YA novel, Handcuffs (Delacorte), I scandalized a few people with some public readings, as Kurt and Collette will attest, and then settled in to write something completely different. This weekend I've had the first experience of referring to myself as the author of The Masque of the Red Death. It feels pretty weird! Also, like maybe I should avoid alcoholic beverages, since I don't want to be found out passed out in an alley (Poe reference, not an indication of my extracurricular activities).

I have  two fabulous children, a husband who does all the bed-time reading so I can write, and a great network of writer and non-writer friends, both IRL and online!

Also, I have recently become obsessed with English Major Armadillo (I have a BA in English from U of L, as well as Masters in the Art of Teaching and Secondary Education)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Kristin Lenz

BIO: Kristin Lenz is a writer and social worker whose career has taken her from a teen runaway shelter to an urban hospital, from rural Appalachia to inner-city Detroit. Currently, she lives with her husband and daughter in Michigan. She is the newsletter editor for the Michigan chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), and is represented by Carrie Pestritto at The Prospect Agency.

PUBLICATIONS and AWARDS: Kristin's writing has been published by Hunger Mountain, Great Lakes Review, and The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). She was a 2011 finalist for Hunger Mountain's Katherine Paterson Prize for The Power of Butterflies, children's fiction, and the 2011 first place winner in the Chicago North RWA Fire and Ice contest for her young adult novel, The Art of Holding On and Letting Go. Read some of her work at the links below.