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Celebrate Imagination

super imaginatorOne of the perks of being a less-than-talkative introvert is that, even after several years of marriage, you can surprise your spouse with trivial facts about yourself. You know, the random kind of information most people would have exchanged during their first year of dating.

The other day my husband and I were discussing an invitation to a Halloween party. I made the comment that Halloween was my favorite holiday, and he replied, “It is? Why?” After my initial thought of How can he not know this?, I scrounged up a few words to explain.

Other kids went to haunted houses or watched scary movies. I stayed home to watch the Peanuts Halloween special on TV and stuff myself with caramel apples and popcorn balls. Other kids dressed up as witches and vampires. I borrowed a wig to complete my Princess Leia costume. In the days before attending Comic Con was cool, I looked forward to Halloween because it was the one day of the year that I could dress up like a space princess without being labeled as a nerd or a freak. For one day, I didn’t have to worry about reality. I could be Princess Leia. I could lead a group of ragtag rebels against the Empire and win.

Growing up, Halloween was about picking a costume and becoming a character, the perfect holiday for a future novelist. It was a day for me to celebrate imagination, and it still is. Halloween is one of the rare occasions when it’s socially acceptable for adults to play pretend—to imagine who they could be and what they could do—and I refuse to give that up.

Where will your imagination take you this Halloween?

 

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The Reading Connection

The pleasure of all reading is doubledI attended the annual ACFW conference in St. Louis last week. It was a great opportunity to learn about the craft of writing and get the latest news of the publishing industry. It was also a lot of fun to hang out with my writing peeps. They get me.

We talked about writing books, of course, but we also talked about reading them. When it comes down to it, we novelists are readers first. We write because we love books, and we believe in the power of story. Reading the same book creates a connection. It provides common ground to discuss thoughts and emotions. The pleasure of reading is one of the few things in life that multiplies when it’s shared.

Are you part of a book club? A member of Goodreads? How do you share the experience with other readers?

 

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Top 10 Ways to Show Twitter Love to Authors

twitterI have to admit it. I wasn’t a fan of Twitter when I first joined, but it’s really grown on me the last couple of years. It’s become one of the most versatile forms of social media out there, and that makes Twitter one of the best places to show social media love to authors.

My Top 10 Ways to Show Twitter Love to Authors:

1. Follow your favorite authors. Just keep in mind that an author’s Twitter handle might not be the same as their name. (For example, Jessica Keller’s handle is @AuthorKeller.) If you’re not sure about the author’s Twitter handle, enter their name in the search bar at the top of the screen, and a list of suggestions will pop up. Another option is to start at the author’s website. Most authors will have a link from their website to their Twitter profile.

2. Favorite a tweet. It could be a big announcement or just a random thought for the day. Whatever it is, let those authors know that you like what they’re saying.

3. Retweet. Don’t just favorite that tweet, retweet it, especially if it’s an announcement about something fun like a giveaway. You can generate excitement and get people talking about your favorite authors.

4. Reply. A lot of authors tweet questions for their followers, so take advantage of it and reply! Or maybe an author just announced a book signing event in your area. Tell them you can’t wait to meet them. Let your favorite authors know that you’re out there and you’re listening.

5. Mention your favorite authors. Tweet something fun or intriguing about the author’s book that will encourage your followers to check it out. When you do, mention the author by including their Twitter handle in your tweet.

Twitter mention

6. Use a hashtag. The #hashtag phenomenon originated with Twitter, and it’s one of the most effective (and fun) tools to show some social media love to your favorite authors. When you mention an author or tweet about one of their books, be sure to include a hashtag. It can be a popular hashtag like #amreading, or you can get creative and make up one of your own: #NewBookBoyfriend, #fictionalhottie, #YAawesomeness.

7. Create a list. A list is a group or collection of Twitter accounts that you put together.

Twitter list 1

When you view the list timeline, you only see tweets from the accounts you’ve selected.

Twitter list tweets

Other Twitter users can subscribe to your list, so make it easy for people to find and follow your favorite authors. Create a list and give it a clever (but descriptive) name so your followers won’t be able to resist checking it out. For more info on making a list, go to https://support.twitter.com/articles/76460-using-twitter-lists.

8. Give a Follow Friday shout-out. Friday is the traditional day for recommending accounts to other Twitter users, so it’s the perfect excuse to mention your favorite authors. Include a short description like “Must-read YA” in your tweet along with the author’s Twitter handle and one of the Follow Friday hashtags: #FF, #followfriday, or #ff.

Follow Friday tweet

9. Tweet a picture. Twitter only allows 140 characters per tweet, but “a picture is worth a thousand words,” so post a selfie of you with the latest book from your favorite author. Or how about a shelfie—a picture of your bookshelf with that awesome new addition? Do you have a new book-inspired manicure or tattoo? It’s all good. Just be sure to mention your favorite author when you post your tweet.

Twitter image

10.Tweet a video. Share a book trailer from the author’s website or from YouTube. Or post a six-second Vine showing your reaction to the five-star book you just finished. Don’t forget to mention the author and include a hashtag.

What other ways can you show Twitter love to your favorite authors?

©2014 Kim Vandel

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Top 10 Ways to Show Goodreads Love to Authors

gToday’s guest post is by Amanda G. Stevens, debut author and Goodreads ninja. 

If you love books, you’re probably already on Goodreads. It’s the most obvious social media platform for book lovers, and it’s a great place to show love to your favorite authors—in both obvious and not-so-obvious ways.

Top 10 Ways to Show Goodreads Love to Authors:

 1. Rate books. This is a straightforward process. Add the book to your “read” shelf and give it a star rating.

2. Review books. Goodreads reviews vary a lot in length. You can post two sentences or ten paragraphs. Reviews can be text only, or you can get creative with gifs. Be engaging and detailed. So you loved the book—why? What makes this book different from others in its genre? What makes this a book you will remember forever? How did it make you feel? GR Post (Review)

3. Recommend books. Do this thoughtfully: don’t recommend one book to your entire friend list. Choose the friends who read similar books, who would most likely enjoy this one. The more reliable your recommendations are, the more friends will trust them and check them out.

4. Talk about the author and book in discussion groups. If you haven’t joined a Goodreads group yet, why not? This is where you get to chat with people about the stories you all love. Be sure to use “add book/author” when you comment, so readers can click on the book rather than having to search for it. Update your reading progress. Every time you do this, the book shows up in your friends’ news feeds. And don’t post only the page number you’re on. Include an intriguing comment. Make fellow readers curious about the book. Tell them why you can’t put it down (without giving spoilers).

5. Update your reading progress. Every time you do this, the book shows up in your friends’ news feeds. And don’t post only the page number you’re on. Include an intriguing comment. Make fellow readers curious about the book. Tell them why you can’t put it down (without giving spoilers).

GR Post (Reading Progress)

6. Become a fan of the author. Again, this shows up in your News Feed and on your profile page and gives the author a nudge of visibility. And it’s easy. Go to the author’s page and, under their picture on the left, click “Become a Fan.”

7. Interact when you see someone else reading the book. Like their progress updates and ask questions relevant to where they are in the book. Let them know how much you enjoyed it.

8. Vote on lists. In Listopia, you’ll find everything from “Books With Boys on the Cover” to “Sigh-Worthy Kisses” to “Greatest Literature of the Twenty-First Century.” Voting a book onto (appropriate) lists is especially helpful if a few of your friends will vote, too. One vote won’t help a book stand out, but five or six can make a surprising difference. GR Post (Listopia)

9. Share the book’s Goodreads page on your other platforms. Goodreads makes this wonderfully easy with their “Share This Book” feature, which includes Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, and Pinterest.

10. Create fun stuff! Goodreads allows readers to create quizzes and trivia questions. This is a fun way to engage other readers of the book, and again, when you take a book quiz, your results show up in your News Feed.

One of the most helpful things you can do for an author is simply to remind fellow readers that this book is out there, and you read it, and you loved it. Now it’s your turn: how have you shown Goodreads love to an author?

stevens-LR-4As a child, Amanda G. Stevens disparaged Mary Poppins and Stuart Little because they could never happen. Now, she writes speculative fiction. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in English and has taught literature and composition to home-school students. She lives in Michigan and loves books, film, music, and white cheddar popcorn. Amanda’s first novel, Seek and Hide, will be available September 15, 2014 from David C Cook. She can be found online at her website, on Twitter, and of course on Goodreads.

Congratulations to Amanda on her debut! Be sure to add Seek and Hide to your Goodreads “Want to Read” list today! 

 

48215_10203599576063825_5868202758901641120_o©2014 Amanda G Stevens and Kim Vandel

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Indie Tuesday

Indie Tuesday on The Write ConversationToday is “Indie Tuesday” over at The Write Conversation, and I’m guest blogging. I’m giving the reader’s perspective on why quality writing is important, so be sure to stop by and share your thoughts!

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A Fictional Vacation

John Lubbock quote

Not everyone has a vacation scheduled for this summer. Maybe it’s due to a shortage of time or money or both. But the lack of vacation doesn’t mean you can’t do some traveling. Books are one of my favorite ways to travel. You can go a lot farther for a lot less money.

Some of my favorite book destinations have been Hogwarts, Alagaësia, and Ravka. Forks, Panem, and Dauntless headquarters. Arrakis and New Beijing. And yes, for most of those, I’m very glad I was only a visitor.

What are your favorite book destinations? What book destinations would you like to visit?

©2014 Kim Vandel

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Inspiration from Kilauea

Kilauea collage

I had the privilege of vacationing on the island of Hawaii this summer (The Big Island). One of the highlights was visiting Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Watching the sun go down over Kilauea is an unforgettable experience. It should be on everyone’s bucket list.

The best viewpoint is at the Jaggar Museum on the rim of the Kilauea Caldera. (Arrive well before sundown if you want a decent parking spot.) Of course, I had to visit the museum’s gift shop while I was there, and I found postcards featuring quotes from Ilan Shamir. His quotes are simple yet insightful, and while they’re intended as advice for life in general, the writer in me immediately applied them to my writing journey. This week I thought I’d share a little bit of the inspiration I found at that gift shop overlooking Kilauea.

Advice from a Volcano

©2014 Kim Vandel

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