Twitter Hashtags for Writers

I love Twitter, and I’ve used it for years. I believe that Twitter is one of the best social media sites for writers, because it’s so easy to engage with people. You can follow, be followed by, and actually chat directly with everyone from readers and fans to editors, agents, and publishing companies.

Another powerful aspect of Twitter is the hashtag. The # symbol (yes, it can also be called a pound sign, number sign, or sharp sign) is called a hashtag when used on social media sites like Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

The hashtag is a powerful search tool. When you click on a hashtag, it brings up every tweet that contains that hashtagged word or phrase. This can be a great way to reach readers, commune with other writers, find other professionals in the book industry, even find new story ideas or writing prompts.

Here are some powerful hashtags that writers of every genre and level of experience can use on a regular basis: Continue reading

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Research for Fantasy Stories: Dieselpunk Research

Yes, you can – and should – do research for your writing, even if you’re writing fantasy. Especially if you’re writing historical fantasy. 

The dieselpunk short story series I’m working on is just that – historical fiction with elements of fantasy. While dieselpunk traditionally involves retro-futuristic technology (think the flying jetpack from The Rocketeer), it can also include elements of the paranormal or the fantastical. And to write any or all of these nuances well requires a bit of research.

Here are some of the things that I’m currently researching for my historical fantasy/dieselpunk series:

Jazz-Age Fashion and Aesthetics

The stories I’m writing take place during the Roaring 20s, and my protagonist, Cornelia Jones, is a wealthy socialite. While Cornelia’s adventures don’t really focus on the details of day-to-day life, I do want to give the readers an accurate feeling for the setting and the time period. The clothes that an upper-class woman in the mid-twenties would have worn, the kind of car she owns, other details like the use of telegrams and iceboxes and gramophones all help to build the world. Continue reading

Blogging Topics for 2018: What Do You Want?

Well, here it is – my first blog post of 2018! Whee!

I’ve been a disciplined blogger for years – I’ve posted at least one blog post a week for several years now, missing only a few weeks here and there in all that time. However, I’ve never been a particularly organized blogger; that is, I’ve never had blog topics and outlines planned out for weeks or months in advance. I count myself productive if I have even one post written ahead of time.

And in all my new year’s resolutions and goals, becoming an organized blogger is not one of them. Sorry, but there it is. Perhaps that makes me less of a professional writer; but I have enough trouble outlining and keeping up with the books I’m writing. Continue reading

2017 – A Year in Review

This has been quite a year for me. For all of my followers, I hope you have enjoyed reading my posts, and have gotten some useful and insightful tidbits from this blog. And I hope you continue to read, because in 2018 I plan to delve deeper into all things writerly, both for myself and to share with my fans and followers.

2017 has been a busy year for me, full of learning experiences, dreams being realized, and unexpected blessings. Here’s a quick rundown of my year:

  • In the spring, I left the only home I’d ever known (central Virginia) and moved across the country to the inland northwest (north Idaho). I had no job or place to live lined up, but my sister and her family had moved out there the year before, and I was ready for a change. So I packed up my cat and my books in a U-Haul (don’t panic – the cat rode in the car, not the trailer) and drove across the country.
  • Just a few short months later, I’m living in a little cottage built in 1929, surrounded by fruit trees and mountain views. My town has one traffic light, no McDonald’s, and no movie theater. Most of my neighbors have chickens, and it’s not uncommon to see someone riding a horse through downtown. It’s a border town, so I see as many Montana and British Columbia license plates as I do Idaho plates. My town does have a library and a used book store, though, so there’s that.
  • I’ve met so many new writers this year, both in real life and online. There’s a pretty vibrant writing/artistic community in my area. And Twitter is a wonderful platform for connecting with writers from all over.
  • I published three books this year. They’re all short (a novella and two short stories), but hey, it still makes me an officially published author.
  • I’ve been delving into dieselpunk this year, and learning more and more about all the different nuances of this “punk” sub-genre of science fiction or historical fantasy. I’m learning that there’s a niche for every interest, and a market (even if it’s a small one) for every niche. If you’re not sure who your target audience is for your books, or what to call the kind of books that you’re writing, then keep searching and keep reaching out. You’ll find your people.
  • I had a white Christmas for the first time in forever. I think I experienced a white Christmas perhaps twice my whole life in Virginia. I’m a big lover of snow, and an even bigger lover of Christmas and all things holiday, so having two feet of white powder on Christmas was pretty much a dream come true.

I hope every one of you had some good experiences in 2017. Whether 2017 was your best year or not, find something to be thankful, something you can learn from, and set your goals and dreams for the upcoming year.

Onward to 2018!

Magic versus Technology: Setting the Rules for Your Fictional World

Today the terms “fantasy” and “science fiction” are becoming broad, catch-all terms that encompass a wide range of sub-genres. Most people don’t just write fantasy, they write urban paranormal romance or YA epic fantasy. The same with science fiction: there’s everything from space fantasy to steampunk to retro-futurism. This is a good thing, because the person who likes fairytale retellings with a dark urban flair may not be a fan of epic high fantasy. There’s room for all of the sci-fi, fantasy, and speculative sub-genres, and all their mash-ups and cross-overs, too.

But even with all of the genre-crossing, I believe it’s still important to define whether your world is magic-based or technology-based.

This does not mean that anything with magic is automatically fantasy, nor does it mean that anything with technology more advanced than the steam engine is science-fiction. I believe the distinction lies is how the world of the story is governed. More to the point, it’s how you as the writer establish the rules of your world. A magic-based versus technology-based world has more to do with the culture of the characters and how they interact with world around them, and less to do with whether the characters wave magic wands or fly around in space ships. Continue reading

Retrofuturism, Historical Fantasy, and Dieselpunk Tech

 As you may know, I’m currently writing a historical fantasy series. It’s set in the 1920s, and the title character Mrs. Jones has assorted adventures; magic, a touch of the paranormal, and a lot of “futuristic” retro-technology are key elements in her world.

I wrote a post last year giving some tips on how to write convincing technobabble for science fiction stories. This blog post is in a similar vein – but it’s for writing “historical technobabble.”

“Retro-futurism” is technology or other sci-fi elements that might have existed in the past, but didn’t. And so, to offer some tips on how to write retro-futurism or historical sci-fi, I’m sending you over to a guest post I wrote on The Old Shelter blog.

Read on to find out all about Retrofuturism and Dieselpunk: How they Work in a 1920s Setting!