Should Writers use their Author Platforms for Political Posts?

This post is a question – a question I don’t have an answer for. I’m truly interested in hearing from you – whether you’re a reader, a writer, or you just stumbled across my blog for the first time. I’d love to hear your opinions and views.

If there’s one thing that we can probably all agree on it’s that the political climate of America – and the world – is highly charged right now. Everyone has an opinion, and many people are not shy about voicing it. As a writer, I fully agree with this in principle – the freedom of speech is precious, and we all have a right to our opinions, even when our opinions may or may not be right.

However, in the highly charged atmosphere of today’s world, I’ve noticed some changing trends. Many authors who I follow on social media are posting more political content – some to the point of excluding all other content. I have actually unfollowed several authors on various platforms because all I see them post are political rants. Even those who post political content that I agree with I have unfollowed, because I did not initially choose to follow them for their political beliefs. I wanted to follow these authors because of the content they shared about their books, the publishing industry, writing tips, geeky book memes, or gifs of cats falling off furniture.

I am all for transparency and authenticity on social media. I believe that authors should be themselves, because people want to connect with other people, not just faceless products. Nobody likes posts of nothing but “buy my book!” Continue reading

Homophones: Some Commonly Misused Words

Homophones are words that sound the same but are spelled differently. English is full of these little confusing gems, which can cause people a lot of difficulty when it comes to the written word. Spell check likely won’t catch homophones, because the word you’ve used is spelled correctly, but is just the wrong word for the sentence. Here are a few homophones that often cause a lot of confusion:

Principle/Principal

Principle: an accepted code of rules, like the principles of mathematics, or a person who has strong moral principles.

Principal: first and foremost, or highest in rank, like the principal of a school.

Peek/Peak/Pique

Peek: to take a quick look, like peeking around the corner.

Peak: a summit or the top, like a mountain peak.

Pique: to provoke an emotion or reaction, like to pique his curiosity. Continue reading

Creating Fantasy Creatures: It’s Okay to be Unoriginal

Everybody loves Hobbits and Thestrals and Wookies.

A Thestral from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

A Thestral from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

What do these creatures all have in common? They are unique to their particular stories or worlds (as in Middle-Earth, the Harry Potter series, and Star Wars, respectively). It’s fun to read about (or watch) new creatures in fantasy stories, and it’s just as fun to create them. Inventing the name for your new creature, what the adults look like versus what the babies look like, culture and language, what they eat, where they live. All of these are important world-building tasks, especially if you’re inventing a new species from scratch. We all want to be original and have our fantastical races stand out in the fantasy-creatures crowd.

But I’d like to make the argument that it’s okay to be unoriginal – at least to start with. Thousands of years of human culture has given us hundreds of amazing and creative creatures in mythology and folktales from around the world. Continue reading

3 Twitter Tips for Authors

Twitter is a great platform for writers. I’ve been on Twitter for almost five years now, and I love using it for sharing, conversing, and learning. In case you didn’t know, I’m a bit of a social media lover in general – and I work in social media as part of my day job. Social media may be still a relatively new industry, but it’s a powerful one; and it’s not going anywhere. Twitter is one of the powerhouse players in this realm of social media. 

At the end of this month, I’m going to be teaching a seminar on how writers can use Twitter. If you’re near the central Virginia area the last weekend in January, you should totally check out the Agile Writer Conference. There will be plenty to learn besides just social media – everything from drafting characters to self-publishing on Amazon and even tips for NaNoWriMo.

Anyway, I’m going to share with you a little taste of what I’ll be talking about at my seminar. Even if you can’t make it to the Agile Writers Conference, I hope these tips can help you to feel more confident on Twitter. So let’s dive in:

Use a Picture of You as your Avatar

If you’re running a company or a business, it makes sense to use the logo as the avatar (also known as profile picture). But if you’re a writer trying to build your brand and reach new readers, then it’s best to use a picture of yourself. Please don’t use the cover of your book as your avatar. People want to connect with people, not objects. People want to follow you as a writer, not just your latest book. Continue reading