Saturday, August 29, 2015

5 Tips to Prevent Social Media Online Overwhelm

Whether I'm wearing my author, reader or actor hat, the amount of online information and sources for that information are overwhelming.

Yet so much valuable material is shared, including:

  • casting notices-some of which are taken down as soon as enough submissions are received 
  • writing, marketing and social media tips in Facebook groups and articles/posts
  • specific projects editors/agents are looking for right now
  • info about writing conferences and contests

I don't want to miss anything I might need, but I also don't want to be one of those people always checking/online instead of getting things done. So how do we get the info we need in the most time-effective manner?

1) Only check some things certain times of the day. And/or set a time limit. There are apps for this, or you exercise self-discipline.

2) Take advantage of custom notifications. I have different email accounts for different purposes: one personal, one for acting, one for writing, one for shopping and one for miscellaneous things. Each account has a different notification (the shopping one is silent!), so I only have to stop what I'm doing and check if I hear certain sounds.

I also have Facebook notifications for all groups I really care about, and check notifications every hour or so to see if there's anything I need to pursue.

Your phone can be distracting, too. I also have custom ring tones for certain friends and one for talent agencies ("Popular" from Wicked). The only downside is I don't have all clients and obviously potential clients in my phone, and sometimes agents use other numbers. So when I hear the default ringtone, I often check rather than wait to see if someone leaves a message.

3) Focus on one or two social media outlets you like best and find their shortcuts. For example, I use lists on Twitter (casting, authors, publishing, etc.) and favorites on Facebook. This takes a bit of time to set up, but will save time going forward.

4) Skim and skedaddle. You don't have to read every word of every post. Learn to skim for highlights and to skedaddle as soon as you realize something isn't as important or interesting as you thought it would be.

5) Respond efficiently. While you want to be careful what you post (as we keep hearing, the Internet lives forever), keep track of how long you spend on each comment or post. See if you can trim that time.

If you have other tips, please share!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The power of "Yes, and...."

I'm a pantser, not a plotter, which means I don't write an outline or synopsis (summary of the entire story) before I write the pages. I start with an idea, maybe asking a few "what if" or "what next" questions, then let the characters tell me what to write by seeing their world through their eyes.

Sometimes I do need to make decisions in advance. In my second release, FOLLOW YOUR HEART, the heroine Joanna is a glass-painter. I knew I had to have at least one scene in her workshop with other characters present so I could show her at work. But I didn't know what would happen in those scenes or whose point of view they'd be in. 

Other times, things happen that I didn't see coming--such as an event near the middle of FYH involving an antagonist. I was so surprised at a certain discovery that my jaw literally dropped. Instead of wondering how I was going to make that work because it took the story in a different direction, I couldn't wait to see what happened next. I did step out of the scene for a bit o think how I could heighten the stakes even more. Once I figured that out, the characters were back in charge.  

Perhaps because I've had so much improv training (including Second City) and performance experience, I believe in following the rule of "Yes, and" when writing. This means that once something has been established in a scene, you can't deny it or say no. You must agree with it and add something new. 

For example, if we were scene partners in an improv class or show and you said, "I'm so glad you're my sister," I couldn't say, "No, I'm not. I'm your mother." I could say, "Me, too. And being the oldest is the best." This moves the scene forward by providing new information, which is a gift to your partner. 

This can be time-consuming at first if something happens that sends me off to do a lot more research, but I'm sharing the characters' story.

I hope readers enjoy Joanna and Adrian's story as much as I did writing it. 

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Ruth's Blog Hop Winners & Castles, Knights and Chivalry news

Medieval Madness-Ruth's Winners: Thanks to everyone who participated in the 11-author Medieval Madness Blog Hop August 2-8.

The three winners of my contest are: Amanda S., kaisquared and Linda. Congratulations! You'll each win Castles, Knights and Chivalry, the Amazon Best Seller boxed set featuring my first medieval At His Command and medievals by Laurel O'Donnell, Elizabeth Rose and Kathryn Loch.

Please send your contact info to If I don't hear from you by the 16th, I'll see if I can find you. If I can't, I'll generate more random numbers to find new winners.

Castles, Knights and Chivalry News: I'm thrilled to report that CKC is currently:
Thanks to everyone who's reading it or planning to. I hope you'll let one of us know what you think, and/or post a review. 

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Medieval Madness: participate in our multi-author blog hop to win prizes!

Hello! Welcome to the Medieval Madness Multi-Author Hop! 

My featured book is FOLLOW YOUR HEART. She's a stained glass painter struggling to save her workshop from ruin. He's on a quest to restore his family estate. Passion makes their marriage of convenience inconvenient. 

Here's how you can participate in Medieval Madness:

ENTER TO WIN A KINDLE FIRE H6: Visit all of our sites! See the banner to the right for instructions.

ENTER MY CONTEST: Leave a comment on this post about why you love to read medievals. Three commenters will receive Castles, Knights and Chivalry. This boxed set of 4 medievals that released 8/1 features At His Command by me and books by Laurel O'Donnell, Elizabeth Rose and Kathryn Loch.

ENJOY OUR RECIPES: Here's mine! I thought about including a medieval recipe from one of the great books I have about medieval food, but decided on this one instead.

Love chocolate? These easy cookies may not be the most attractive in the box, but they taste amazing. Let me know what you think!

Chocolate Nut Drop Cookies (Selma Weiss)
Melt in double boiler (my mom figured out you can microwave in a glass bowl):
1 can Eagle milk (I figured out you can use low fat or fat free)
1 1/2 c. chocolate chips
2 T butter

Mix in well:
1 C sifted all-purpose flour
1 1/2 C chopped nuts (I prefer walnuts)

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 12 minutes. Watch closely so bottoms don't burn. Makes appx. 60 cookies.

FOR MORE INFO: Check out all of these medieval authors' sites to learn about them and their books:

1) Elizabeth Rose            2) Laurel O’Donnell
5) April Holthaus           6) Emma Prince
7) Suzan Tisdale             8) Keira Montclair
9) Eliza Knight               10) Ruth Kaufman
11) Lana Williams

Thanks to Elizabeth Rose for arranging this event.