How to find more bloggers like you…

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Female student outdoors with computer

If you’re short on followers or don’t have many interesting blog posts appearing in your feed, a simple way to search for others who are writing about your interests is to explore via the bloggers that you already follow.

By commenting on your (I’m assuming here) small circle of bloggers posts, others will see those comments and perhaps be intrigued enough to search for you – especially if your comments are witty and / or informative. The more often you comment, the better your chances.

The flip side of this is that when you see a useful comment on a blog site, you can visit that blogger in one of two ways;

Click on the blogger’s name (beside their gravatar) blank Gravatar

and that should route you directly to their site.  You can then browse to see if their content is of interest to you.  If it is, ‘follow’ them, ‘like’ their posts (if applicable – if not, why would you follow?) or even leave a nice comment…which might intrigue other visitors to seek you out.  See how it works?  Caution – if you leave a comment without following too, your comment will most likely be held in a moderation queue pending approval by that blogger.  This will not only delay the posting of your comment, but a busy blogger may miss it altogether.  I know because I’ve discovered pending comments days after they were posted. 😀

Another (sometimes less effective way) to find bloggers is to click on their gravatar.

blank Gravatar

This will route you to the bloggers gravatar page where you can read all about them – assuming they have posted anything.  Not everyone does and you can be left staring at nothing more than a larger version of their gravatar.

Note to other bloggers – please put some details on your gravatar!  Other bloggers are interested in you.

Here’s mine;

my gravatar

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I’ve tried to include as much relevant information on my own gravatar page so that I can be located on WordPress, Twitter, Goodreads, Twitter and LinkedIn.  To find my WordPress site, you’d only need to click on the site name, andrewtoynbee.wordpress.com.

However, even if a blogger that you are desperately keen to follow hasn’t posted any details (and one has to wonder why), the mighty Google can come to the rescue.  Simply copy (or memorise it if you’re good) their blogging name, open the mighty Google (other search engines are available if you prefer) and type ‘WordPress’ followed by their name;

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google wordpress

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Voila!

You can then click to find the site and ‘follow’, comment or ‘like’ as before.  The blogger may be kind enough to follow you in return and hey presto! you have increased your feed and your following in one simple move!

For blog sites that are not hosted by WordPress, you may have to be a little more creative, omitting ‘WordPress’ from the search and perhaps adding spaces in their gravatar name.  If you know which host they are using, add that into the search box instead.  Then, if you wish to follow their feeds, copy their web address, go to your ‘Blogs I Follow’ page and paste their URL into the box at the top of the page.  I’ve covered this in slightly more detail on my How to follow non-Wordpress blogs post.

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Happy blogging!

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Spread the word – linking your posts to other media

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hoefi chain

If you have other social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and LinkedIn, it’s a straightforward matter to have your posts automatically repeated on them, saving you time and the hassle of re-posting each time.

If you want to utilise this, first open the appropriate social media page in another tab or window in the background first.  Depending on your browser settings, WordPress may auto-fill and save you having to re-type manually.

Stage One;

At the bottom of every post is a link to something clever called ‘Publicize’.  Pick a recent post, find the link and click on ‘Settings.’

stage one

Stage Two;

A selection of social media will appear in the next window as per the image below.  Or…

stage two

…if you haven’t any linked sites, you might see a series of social media options;

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Click ‘Add new Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn (use as appropriate) connection.’

This should prompt a permissions box to appear.  I’ve shown the LinkedIn one;

stage three

This may auto fill as you begin typing, or you may have to complete both boxes, depending on your browser settings.  Either way, completing the box should take you to your social media page and allow you to link it to your subsequent WordPress posts.

Beware, though.  Using ‘Update’ on any older posts will cause them to be re-posted (as I’ve found to my cost), so use it sparingly, or your followers will be blasted over and over with your wit and wisdom! 😀

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Let’s play a little game…

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ba1969 tag

You’ve been tagged!

Carissa of ramblingsofabipolarwoman recently tagged me in a little game, the rules of which are as follows:

Rules:
1. Post these rules. (check)
2. Post a photo of yourself (do I have to?) and eleven random facts about you. (check)
3. Answer the questions given to you in the tagger’s post. (check)
4. Create eleven new questions and tag new people to answer them. (check)
5. Go to their blog/Twitter and let them know they’ve been tagged. (done)

Okay; Here’s a picture of me.  It’s not particularly recent, but I rather like the chap who’s standing beside me…I hear he likes Robin Hobb’s dragon stories.

me_and_dragon

I’ve got plans for a better pic that ties in with the Angel of the North, but that’ll keep for later.

11 facts about me:

1. I have a large collection of silly T-Shirts at home.

2. I have just had to accept the fact that I am ageing – by buying reading glasses!

3. This year I will be 49…but in my mind, 50 is the new 30! 😀

4. If it wasn’t for my current job, I would probably never find the time to write.

5. I cannot concentrate on poetry…my eyes simply skip across it – but I am determined to change.

6. I have never lost the joy of watching falling snow.

7. I enjoy watching chick flicks.  Some of them, anyway.  My Best Friend’s Wedding was cool.

8. I enjoy making short YouTube videos [add a link?] by matching songs to modern movies.

9. If I was ever to visit the US, I would have absolutely no idea where to begin!

10. My MP3 is filled only with soundtracks and similar music.

11. I only recently discovered The Walking Dead and I am now a huge fan!

Now to answer the questions given to me by Carissa:

1. What is one of your fondest childhood memories?

Sitting beside a Scottish river whilst my parents fished for trout.  To this day, I can still find peace beside a river.

2. What town & country were you born in?

I was born in a town called Burnley in Northern England

3. What is something you HATE to eat?

Eggs – in almost any form.  It’s taken me years of determination to be able to touch an omlette or the yolk of an egg.

4. What is a talent you wish that you had or that you were better at?

I wish I could master a musical instrument – I love music, but learning the technicalities seems to take all the pleasure out of it.

5. Why did you join WordPress?

To journal my writing progress in 2010.  I didn’t post anything until July 2012.  Now I love it!

6. What is one of your most favorite dishes to make/eat?

Anything that has a cheese topping.  Lasagne and macaroni cheese is at the top of my list.

7. Where is somewhere you haven’t been that you’d like to travel to?

The US…

8. What animal do you think best suits your personality?

I’ve always felt an affinity towards bees.  They work from dawn till dusk without complaint, but always manage to stay under the radar.

9. Do you like sports, if so…what is your favorite to watch?

I used to watch motor racing – my favourite sport – but not since the UK’s TV coverage messed up.

10. Have you ever played a musical instrument, if so…what and if not, what you play if you could be taught?

See 4. above.  I think it’s best left to the professionals.  But if I was suddenly given the ability to play, I would like to be able to play either keyboard or a guitar.

11. What do you think your best qualities are?

Persistence and determination.  It’s served me well in my job and in my desire to be an Author.

11 questions that I will ask those I choose to tag…..

1. What was the last book that you read?

2. If you could retire within the next five years, to where would you like to retire?

3. What genre are you writing – and have you attempted any other genres in the past?

4. Fruit or chocolate?

5.  What stage is your current WIP at?

6. What colour is your hair – and your eyes?

7. Agent or self-publish?  And why?

8. What was the last movie you went to see?  With friends or alone?

9.  How long have you been with WordPress – and what was your first post about?

10. What can you see beyond your screen?  If it’s a wall, what’s immediately behind you?

11. Do you type head-down or head-up?

* * *

* *

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ba1969 tag2

Tag along!

Now I’ve got to tag a few people and let them know that they’ve been tagged.

I hope that the following bloggers will join in the fun and pass the game along.  That way we can all learn a little more about each other!

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Jon

Sonya

Candace

Ryan

Kisa

Pat

To anyone else reading this, feel free to participate and keep this going!

How to follow non-WordPress Blogs

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This has frustrated me for a while – but now the answer is here!

how to follow blogs

If you’re not aware of this handy little WordPress instruction (that I found quite by accident), it makes the following of non-Wordpress blogs (and I have found many that I’ve had to follow by email instead) simple and straightforward.

How to follow blogs2

Just copy the web address into the URL box and presto!  More input into your ‘Blogs I Follow’ stream.

Apologies to everyone who’d already picked this up.  I hope this proves useful to anyone who hasn’t found it yet.

Write on!

It’s all about the journey

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I’d long been an avid cynic of reality TV shows such as X Factory, Pop Idle, Big Brooder, (disparaging mis-spellings intentional) et al, citing them as simple ratings magnets that were all hype and no substance.

I’d avoid them like the cliche, eschewing Saturday night television altogether, tutting at the oft-hyped results and the acres of tabloid coverage they seemed to generate.

But little by little, weekend visits to a friend’s house resulted in the television (which seemed to have no ‘off ‘ function) drawing my eye and ear towards the (often hapless) auditionees on ‘X Factor’ and ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ every Saturday night. 

I found myself becoming intrigued, for no reason that I could fathom.  I didn’t know these people, these fame-seeking wannabes (only some of whom were quietly talented and later became successful) and yet I found myself increasingly drawn into their stories as they inched their way towards the stars.  I followed them from their earliest beginnings.  I saw their spotlight-dazzled faces as they shuffled reluctantly onto an over-large stage to croak out a few nervous bars of their favourite song.  And then I watched their eyes light up as the crowd called out its approval.

But why was I watching this IQ-sapping drivel; this thinly-disguised attempt to solicit viewers (and before you mentally compose hate-mail, please let me finish), this apparent waste of valuable writing time?

It suddenly became clear to me when I unexpectedly became hooked on yet another reality TV show – Masterchef.  

Hooked? Why?  I know nothing about food.  I can barely make mashed potato or an edible cheese sauce.  To this day I am still able to slide rock-hard frozen food onto a microwave platter with only a basic idea of why it emerges twenty minutes later as a hot, steaming meal.  I have no aspirations to create Langoustine consommé with lemon tuiles and pea puree, or to begin experimenting with molecular gastronomy (although liquid Nitrogen does look like a wonderful toy).

The chemistry of food defies my kind of logic.  It’s a pleasure to eat, true, but the assembly is an alien process to me and most likely will forever remain that way. 

But there I was, week after fascinated week, watching untrained but enthusiastic amateurs, their fumbling fingers creating elegantly-assembled dishes of confit duck on a bed of celeriac mash to Michelin-class standards.   But why?  In the name of the knife, fork and spoon, why??

Then it finally clicked.  The title of this post says it all.  It was about the journey.

We aspiring writers have very similar goals to those clumsy cooks, those shaking singers, those jittering jugglers.  We are all on the same journey of self-discovery – with the hope of our own selves being discovered.  Or our work, at least.

I realised that by watching these rising stars gain new skills and achieve undreamed-of heights, my thoughts were paralleling their journey with my own aspirations, because I hoped that I would also (one day) experience a similar journey. 

My mind had latched onto these stories in an unconscious act of self-preparation.

It may be that every individual who achieved the final three of Masterchef, X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent has already inspired me; proved to me that it IS possible to lift our (literary) voices from behind the background noise of society enough to be heard. 

Ordinary mortals like us can achieve great things.  But it takes time.  It takes a measure of confidence.  But it can require a good measure of encouragement from our peers too. 

It is perhaps because of all of this that I am mentally prepared for the next step of ePublishing, the quiet, stealthy equivalent of seeing my work in Bookers or Waterstones.  I dare to touch my toe to the chill waters of public consumption and say to them ‘nibble on that,’ whilst thinking ‘pleasedon’tbite, pleasedon’tbite!’

The journey from ‘I could write a book’ through ‘could I write a book?’ to ‘I have written a book’ is moving forward.  Who was it that said; ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’?

But where is your journey taking you? How far have you already come?

Have you been inspired by stories of success or sheer determination? 

Have you watched others climbing the ladder towards success, feeling that your journey was headed the same way?

Do you feel (particularly with ePublishing opening up new possibilities) that the impossible is now possible?

Share your story with us.  Tell us where your journey is taking you.

Write on – and encourage others to do the same in every way that you can.

  

Reader Appreciation Award

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This post has been a long time due and so, for that, I apologise.

The whirl of completing my Twelfth Draft, the decision to ePublish and the creating of my book cover scoured my brain of much of my daily to-do list.

Anyway, last month I was fortunate enough to receive a nomination for the Reader Appreciation Award, not once but twice!

Thank you Mymagical escape (I tried to find your name on your blog, but couldn’t) for this award.   I love the image – it just so happens that big, bright sunflowers are a favourite of mine.

Also, Sonya Loveday nominated me the following day, a lovely thought.

The conditions of this award seem to be similar to those of the Liebster and Lovely Blog awards.

I tried to back-track through Mymagicalescape’s nominator, Pat Wood or as I like to think of her, Caress Arborea *winks*, but I couldn’t find any specific conditions listed on her blog.

Sonya mentions that the Reader Appreciation Award Foundation stipulate six nominations, so I will do that, but add in Mymagicalescape’s format and write seven things about myself first – stuff that I haven’t already said after receiving previous nominations.

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1. I believe in Angels – just not necessarily the kind that appear in popular literature.

2. I live in the same town as Jenna Burtenshaw and have received a great deal of encouragement from her.

3.  It was my wife’s tottering stack of vampire novels that compelled me to write ‘A Construct of Angels’.

4.  Movie soundtracks inspire my writing.

5.  My ‘day job’ takes me all over the UK.  75% of the time it gifts me writing opportunities that I wouldn’t otherwise enjoy.

6. Currently, my favourite writing tool is my Acer Netbook.

7. I am the closest I have ever been to publishing a book and cannot quite believe it.

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Now, the nominations;

I’m supposed to nominate six bloggers for this Reader Appreciation award, so here are my choices;

1. Candace Knoebel

2. Ryan Casey

3. M D Kenning

4. Sonya Loveday

5. Carly Sarah

6. Michelle Proulx

7. Abusively Baboozan

8. Pat Wood blogging

Oops – I can’t count.  I know Candace, Sonya and Carlyysarah had already been nominated by Mymagicalescape and Pat Wood nominated her in the first place, but I love them so much, I felt compelled to repeat the nomination.

Who’s to say that I can’t?  :p

Oh, oh.  Yellow card approaching from the Reader Appreciation Award Foundation.

Enjoy, bask if you like, but don’t forget to spread the love!

 

Write on!

Do you empathise with your characters?

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Do you?

I mean really get down into the mud with them and feel their pain as if it was your own?

In this age of guts, gore and death on both the big and the small screen, it’s all too easy to sit back and munch popcorn as a larger-than-life action figure takes a bullet, then fights on to the expected victory.  The heroine, meanwhile, hangs by a single finger over a fatal drop before she is rescued in the very last instant by a strong grip around her slender wrist.

Yeah, sure he groans as the bullet buries itself in his flesh.  She shrieks as her finger slips. 

But what do they really feel?  Can you, as a writer, firstly imagine the pain, the sheer terror that these characters ought to be feeling?  And can you, secondly, convince the reader that these unfortunate, suffering characters know that a life-stopping moment is but a heartbeat away?   We are all buzzing bags of emotion, not unfeeling machines.  Readers know this – and we must deliver. 

I’ve dreamed of plunging to my death in a car, then woken in a cold, shaking sweat, hardly able to convince myself that I’d survived.  In one brief moment, I’d mentally wrapped up my life, regretted things unfinished, and wondered if non-corporeal existence or oblivion awaited me.  Then; bang;  I was a crumpled statistic – but one with an answer.  One with an edge to create better death scenes; and to recognise shallow ones.  And although it was a dream, I’d been there.  I’d actually felt it.

If you’re in any doubt that you are tuned into your characters, retire to a quiet place after you’ve written your action sequence.   Become one with your character of choice.  Climb into their skin, then re-run the action.  Hang from a stone gargoyle one hundred storeys above the city.  Plunge over a waterfall, not knowing if you’re going to see the next minute.  Switch off all the lights and spin around three times to experience some of the disorientation of being inside a darkened warehouse (but please don’t injure yourself – even if you are researching pain!).

Better still, if the geography or architecture allows, visit the closest possible parallels to your scene and lean over that edge; feel the power of the wind and water.  Picture the last seconds of your life as gravity claims its prize. 

Your character would.

Imagine how you’d feel if someone close to you went over the edge instead; feel that anger, that helplessness, that utter and permanent loss.

And relax…breathe.  Then get it down on paper / screen.

I’ve dealt largely with falls so far.  Other fates are available, naturally. 

And of course, this technique doesn’t just apply to action scenes. 

Pain is not the only emotion;

Betrayal?  Your best friend has just eloped with your significant other / taken your expensive car / smuggled out your priceless show cat.  Get angry; feel betrayed.  Just don’t call that friend until you’ve simmered down and put your hurt and anger into black-and-white.

Love?  A trickier one this, one that relies on previous experience.   Think of it as the ultimate head-and-heart battle.  Except that the head belongs to an adult, and the heart is a wanton, wailing, selfish four-year-old that (almost) always gets their way.  How wrenching would that be as an internal monologue?

Fear?  There are many shades of fear, too many to list here.  Briefly, though; Fear of death (brief pain and it’s all over – but you might leave everything unfinished); Fear of loss – what is it that you could not stand to exist without?  Fear of change; your comfort zone – obliterated.

Feel them all – no, really.  Feel them all.  And then create characters that we can really relate to – and emotions that stir our own. 

What better than a novel that takes us upon a roller-coaster ride that leaves us emotionally wrought, but thoroughly satisfied?

For further reading I’d recommend Rivet your readers with Deep POV.  Please note that I am in no way affiliated with this work  – I just found it to be instructive.

So, over to you;

What techniques do you use to get beneath your character’s skin?  

Do you perform mental walk-throughs? 

Do you research on-line for the experiences of others, or even query them face-to-face?

WordPress has a sense of humour!

2 Comments

I was tidying up my blog yesterday, changing my post A Little Foreword into a page in its own right so it wouldn’t be shunted downwards every time I posted something.

In doing so (and I don’t know how this happened), I must have ‘liked’ A little Foreword.

Today, I received this image in my email;

I did laugh…

Six Sentence Sunday…oh, heck. Too late!

14 Comments

Well, many others have offered up their six sentences, so here are mine.

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“Sara, move!”

The impact of Michael’s hand against my shoulder provided an impetus that thrilled me forwards in a blur of motion – I found myself on the far side of the crossroads in a heartbeat.

A moment later we were sprinting up Sampson Square, flashing past the darkened shops.

My limbs moved faster than I would have thought possible as behind us, a feral howl rolled up the street, blasting through the air and ripping the September leaves from the trees.

“What the hell was – ?”

“Never mind,” Michael yelled.  “Just keep running!”

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Hopefully, this segment coveys the urgency of Sara and Michael’s desperate flight from a horde of Spawn – unfortunate individuals who have been endangered to the point of death, where their souls have been snatched away, leaving them as empty, enslaved monsters.  Michael, an angel (of sorts) is able to assist Sara by temporarily enhancing her muscles with supernatural energy.  These are not standard ‘zombies’.  They are closer to ‘I am Legend’ than ‘Dawn of the Dead’, and are capable of a surprising turn of speed.

This segment is lifted from the chapter where Sara finally realises that the dangers around her are real and that Michael really has a serious purpose on Earth.

Any thoughts or feedback would be gratefully received.

PS I will get the hang of this Sunday / Monday thing.

My first nomination!

6 Comments

Well, this is a brand new and fairly uncertain experience for me.

It came as a complete surprise when C.A Hustead nominated me for the ‘One Lovely Blog Award.’

For the past year or so, the only visitor to this blog has been …me.

Then Aayla Avalon came to visit and boosted my stats by 50%.  Since then, it’s been largely quiet…until about three months ago (I’m guessing here – I will verify that later), I began to get visitors!  Around that time, I made the (rather obvious now) connection that by commenting on other writer’s blogs, those writers might be curious enough to visit my blog. Now I’m following and regularly reading several blogs, as well as discovering new ones each week.

Sadly, my time on-line is limited (work, home life, travelling time) and I can’t be as prolific or entertaining as other bloggers.  My blog was mainly a journal, documenting my experience as a first-time novellist, never designed to impart deep, meaningful thoughts or throw out weekly challenges.

However, now that I have followers for the first time (thanks to everyone who has chosen to follow my humble ramblings!) I will endeavour to raise the entertainment level from the lowly levels of Notch One.

Now, following in the style of Mr Hustead, and Ms. Nine  before him, I believe the format is to nominate seven other bloggers;

The Rules:

1. thank the blogger who nominated you with a link to the site.
2. write seven things about yourself that other bloggers don’t know
3. nominate fifteen other deserving blogs.

The Big Thank You:

Thank you, Mr Hustead, for the kind nomination.  I will attempt to keep up the ‘good work,’ and create meaningful, useful and perhaps even the occasional entertaining posts.

Seven things about myself?

  1. I am spiritual but definitely not religious.
  2. I watch (and enjoy) romantic movies.
  3. I have been within ten feet of Tony Blair, Princess Anne and Jean-Michel Jarre (not all on the same day).
  4. I am afraid of heights and cannot stand roller coasters.
  5. I am a night owl as opposed to a lark.
  6. When I grow up I want to be a bush pilot (4. notwithstanding)
  7. I cried when Freddie Mercury died.

Nominations towards other blogs;

Aayla Avalon for her endearing depiction of a writer struggling to metamoprhise into an author and for her encouraging words to fellow proto-authors.

Kimberly’s writings is informative and always fun to read.

Candace Knoebel for her thoroughly engrossing posts.

Ryan Casey who has done more than anyone to convince me that self-publishing may offer an alternative way to get my novel ‘out there’.

A Journey to Atlantis for always providing a riveting read!

Lillie McFerrin for getting us all to write (or intend to write in my case) Five Sentence Fiction.

Michelle Proulx for not only providing insightful blogging, but for her encouragement of others too.

And finally…

M.D.Kenning, who has provided several thoughtful articles which has led me to re-examine my own prose in a new way.

I know that’s not fifteen, but I have only recently launched my blog into the…um… blogosphere.  I have chosen to follow those blogs that interest me the most and will add new ones as I stumble upon them.  I continue to watch out for recommendations posted upon others blogs.

Again, thanks for the nomination and all the encouragement I have received from my followers.

Andrew Toynbee

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