Thanet Creative: New name; new site

The sun is setting on this website – we are moving off to Author Buzz UK. Don’t worry, all the best bits of this website are coming with us.

Our new name, in case you have not guessed, is Thanet Creative which means our work for writers is now Thanet Creative: Writers. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

In the year or so that the Thanet Creative Writers’ blog has been here, we have had a fantastic competition and I’ve written some really fun articles. As a charity, we have struggled with the fact that all the most relevant domain names were being cyber-squatted by mean people. We know who – they said something that told us without ever realising they did.

As a charity, we have struggled with the fact that all the most relevant domain names were being cyber-squatted by mean people. We know who – they said something that told us without ever realising they did. However, as a wonderful side effect of a recent simplification of our name, we have been able to snag much better domain names and can now set up a dedicated website.

I talk about that a bit here.

Meanwhile, we are in the process of moving over to Author Buzz UK and if you check out our new site, you will see it is a lot like this one. All of our projects are listed there already. WordPress.com has been a wonderful host and looked after us very well but it is time to spread our wings and play with more powerful toys.

I will continue to post updates here until we are fully settled in and then this website will be left as an archive to point people to our new site.

I hope that you will join us at our new home. See you there.

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Nathan McGrath: spam or fan?

Nathan McGrath is, by all accounts, an author. His site (to which I am not linking shows he has written 3 books. So why is he scraping out content?

I first noticed Nathan McGrath when I saw an unusual ping on another WordPress blog I write for. What was unusual was that the ping title and body were content I had written.

When I followed the link home, I discovered that Nathan McGrath (or whoever runs Nathan McGrath’s website) had taken articles from Thanet Creative Writers and reposted them on his blog. As he kept the links intact his blog pinged the links. Which is where we came into the story.

It did not take me long to realise that Nathan McGrath’s blog had a lot of our content. Some of it seemed to fit while other parts made no sense for him to have. I’ve worked with things like this before and every time it is the result of something called automated scraping. How that works is a script pulls the content and then posts it.

I’d be tempted to think Nathan McGrath was a fan of our charity had he bothered to link to the source of his article but that, of course, would ping the people he was stealing content from.

I’m really not sure what to do next. On the one hand Nathan McGrath’s books sound somewhat interesting but, on the other hand, I refuse, point blank, to support content theft.

What do you think?

A Round Robin of Writer Blog Posts

Every now and then I like to publish a list of cool things to read on other people’s blogs. This is not quite one of those posts but there are links to other people’s blogs.

However, there are a few posts on those other blogs, that I have written along with other people’s [psts on similar topics. I did something sort of similar with 5 Writer Blogs you Should Definitely Read.

Author Platforms

Sometimes it seems Author Platforms is all I talk about. I promise this is not the case.

First up, for Author Buzz UKA Comprehensive Guide to Author Platforms really is very comprehensive. Hopefully, it is the most definitive explanation of Author Platforms that will ever be needed.

Other posts on author platforms worth a read:

How is your author platform going? Got any questions?

Scary Stories

I recently published an article titled “The thin line between scary and hilarious” on my own Author Buzz network blog. I took a look at how humour and horror were essentially the same things.

I don’t have a list of other writers blogs with scary stories on them. Maybe because I have not found many indie author blogs with scary stories on them. Other than The Legend of Spicer Cove by L. L. Winder, I got nothing.

Can you recommend an author blog with scary stories on it?

Author Earnings

Talking of scary stories, what most authors earn is scary. Scary low. Ever since Author Buzz published the “The Shocking Truth about Author Earnings“, it has been bothering me that we authors do not earn that much. Here are some other views on the subject.

 

 

What do you think about the state of author earnings?

Peace of writing

There have, over the past year or so, been some fairly negative moments in the Thanet literary scene. That’s sad, so let’s fix it.

Thanet Creative Writers can’t, as a single charity, solve every problem in Thanet but maybe we can set an example and take the first step.

Let me first address some of the petty rivalries that have been stoked up between our group and others. Writing has never been a competitive event. Sure, a good plot needs conflict but we writers ourselves do not.

If you are part of this rather silly conflict then you know who you are, and if you are not then you have not missed out. But each and every person who was caught up in all this, I am publicly inviting to become friends.

As of this moment, consider the past a closed box; the slate wiped clean. Let us work together and make the enjoyment of writing our only priority.

As for my part in all this silliness, I have no doubt that I have not been perfect. For whatever slights, real or imagined, that you feel that I personally had any part in, I ask for your pardon. I am not really sure what I, or the group I chair, stands accused of but I am willing to ask for forgiveness anyway. The reality is that whatever the facts are (and they might forever be hidden) if feelings have been hurt, I want to start the process of healing.

Let me personally extend an open invitation to all of you to come and go from our groups, events, and website as you see fit. You are as welcome as any other and I would be pleased to see you. No one (and I will make that my personal responsibility) will bring up the past. The past is over and no one can change that but we can choose how we move forward. I want us to move forward inclusively.

The local blogger who felt the need to unload on us publicly. You know who you are but let us put that behind us. Sure what you wrote hurt a lot of people, and maybe there may be some repercussions to unpack from that event. I doubt either of us covered ourselves in glory in the way we behaved and no one was ever helped by a war of words (which no one can win).

It is too easy to hate people when they have no face, so come and join with us, not to unpack the past but to start a fresh relationship. Come to one of our trustee meetings if you want, or one of our tea and chat events, or poetry events. Come and meet the people that enjoy our group. Let us be friends.

The local poet who spat out a massive wall of vitriolic text at me over private message, you too. You know who you are. I am going to choose to believe that you were just having a bad day and needed to vent. I am glad that I was able to be that vent for you. It is fine. I’m big enough to take it.

You, sir, are still welcome to come to our poetry events on the last Thursday of the month. Not just welcome but actively invited. Let us have a cuppa, share some rhymes, and put the past behind us.

Finally, the person or persons who feel the need to stir up hatred. All I can do is ask that you stop. Hate and conflict have no place outside of the plots we write. Let us keep conflict where it belongs – in fiction alone.

There is so much good that we can build together. Our future lies with each other. Let us start building it today.

Writers’ Blog Train: Stop number one

Toot, toot. The blog train is pulling into the station. Kickstarting a weekly roundup of blog posts that will move from blog to blog.

<<< Previous Blog Train (actually the “about blog trains” post)

To help me get this first entry in the blog train written I am going to be working from the Directory of Thanet Writers’ blogs. When the train lands on your blog, you don’t have to stick just with the blogs listed there, but it can make a good starting point.

Jess Joy

Jess is a relatively new blogger. As far as I knew her first attempt at blogging was as part of our competition. She’s really great at it and always a joy to read. It turns out, however, that Jess has written blogs before. Lots.

Jess often posts short form fiction. One worthy pair of posts worth a mention features the same character. They are both competition entries and very clever twists of the theme at that.

Jess recently turned an obvious biographic prompt into a fantastic short story. “Something to write home about” is definitely worth a read.

Thanet Star

I’m letting this blog in on a technicality. While not about writing Thanet Star is written by a writer (me). Topics tend to cover Broadstairs (and what a nice place it is), Manston (and how it should not be houses), and local politics. Also, when the mood takes me, I write about writer news such related to Thanet.

AUTHORity

Another regular participant in our competitions. Irving Benjamin not only writes but maintains a list of his favourite reading, and useful links for writers. Irving is also a poet and you can find poems he has written in a handy-dandy drop-down menu at the top of his site.

  • Just Don’t – which was a competition entry
  • My Canal – which was also an entry for an entirely different competition

Author Buzz

Author Buzz is a project to try and help writers and readers find each other. It’s still pretty new and a lot of work is still needed. Author Buzz needs some beta testers if you are interested in helping out.

Stories from the edge

I hope this blog has not gone into long term hibernation as the author has been a regular participant in the Thanet Creative Writers competition. The last post was In Response to the Prompt ‘Who do I admire?’ at the end of march.

Night of the Hats

Night of the Hats is a relative rarity among Thanet based or connected writers’ blogs (I know we are not really all from Thanet) in that it is hosted on blogspot. The last post was a competition prompt containing not just a little advice.

Thanet.Blog

That’s not a typing mistake, that’s the domain this blog is hosted on. not a writer as such (aside from the obvious fact that the blog is written) but an example of good writing nevertheless. Thanet spirit quest part one: The theatre of dreams is a travel log style ramble about Thanet and a good read too.

Writer Without a Clue

This is a blog written by a Thanet Creative writers founder and regular attendee. Criminally I have failed to award any competition wins to this blog even though it is very deserving. (Not to self, change that).

If you want to read an example of realistic and well-written dialog I suggest you check out Second Trust.

Kentish Rambler

Subtitled, “Writer, walker and rambling writer in the Kent countryside” that should tell you everything you need to know about the Kentish Rambler blog. The last post made at the start of May and titled March Ramblings contains a stunning array of beautiful photography.

Matthew Munson

Matthew Munson is a Thanet based author with at least two published books under his belt. He writes on a variety of topics and recently talked about homeschooling.

Aside from being a successful author and having a cool name, Matthew is also a really nice bloke. He is also far better at grammar and spelling than I am.

Matthew D. Brown

One blog you might not be familiar with is my writing blog. It’s pretty new and part of why there had to be a pause in the competition (it turns out even I have limits). The Matthew D. Brown blog is also host to serialised stories which come out roughly each week (give or take a bit).

Currently, there are two stories:

  1. That story with a cat in it – a sci-fi spoof
  2. Legend – a fresh take on fairy tales and fantasy

I’d really appreciate some attention in the form of comment so I know if the stories I am posting catch your interest or not. I am probably going to tailor things based on the feedback I get so your comments matter a great deal to me.

A writing prompt

I though it would be nice to end the train this week with a writing prompt. We’ve been publishing them most weeks so there are plenty to choose from. I thought I would pick a personal favourite of mine – “And then the murders began“. Do with that one what you will.

Over to you

I hope I have shown you something that might be worth a read. Feel free to copy the general pattern of this post (and the images) for your own train posts or, when the train is with you, mix it up as you see fit.

I nominate Jess Joy to host the next blog train. Jess, over to you. (Don’t worry, you don’t need to anywhere near as verbose as me).

(this will be linked up when it is live) Next Blog Train >>>

Competition thoughts

There should have been a new entry for this week. I know it is late. There should have been one (or is it two) sets of winners announced this week too.

I’m going to get to that in just a moment. Before I do, would you mind if I rambled on about what I have been so caught up in this last few weeks?

Brilliant, thank you.

A few weeks ago I started working on a new article. One of the big, well-researched ones that I have not written for a while. This one was about the author of the Martian. In the article, I focused on how Andy Wier used his platform to get a book and film deal (in the same week). One of the things that Wier did was publish his work as a serial.

One of the things that Wier did was publish his work as a serial. Serial writing seemed like a lot of fun and something I wanted to try.

As a typical over-thinker, I started thinking not about the easiest way to do this but the best way. In no time at all, I had cooked up a whole batch of ideas. One of those ideas was a project I had been sitting on for years and years – Author Buzz. I had owned authorbuzz.co.uk for a long time and at some point I let it expire.

My chosen domain name was available again so I registered it. But not before I suggested to Thanet Creative Writers that we start a portal for all writers. Both the idea of serial writing and the portal received a positive response and so I went ahead.

chimpanzee_seated_at_typewriter

What I did was create an entire WordPress network (like wordpress.com but just for authors). I then had to start writing and fixing and integrating and coding and theming like a wizard. I am not a wizard. This is much, much harder than I thought it would be.

This is an actual photograph of how I felt while I was doing this.

As a result, I have not kept up with everything. For that, I apologise. It was not fair to keep you guys hanging.

If it is okay with everyone, what I will do is pause the competition for this week. Which adds an extra week for the deadline of our last theme. During the week I will announce our winners and on Monday I will announce the winners of last week (and this week, now). I will also set the next theme ready to publish. In case you want to get writing, here was the sneak peek of what the themes will be. I had planned all twelve before we even started.

We have two themes and the grand vote off to go and I want to give you wonderful writers my full attention while it takes place.

I also want to shout out to Jess Joy for reminding me just how far from the straight and narrow I have wandered lately. I also want to thank not just Jess but AUTHORity, Artimis Blake, Kentish Rambler, L. L. Winder, Neil, and Anstey for your wonderful contributions. Reading your work has been a pleasure and a joy. I truly hope that all of you continue to write after the competition has ended.

Once more, please forgive this interruption. We will get back on track next week. That’s a promise.

Thanet Writers: A general Statement

I need to discuss, publically, a very difficult topic. This post is not about writing and if you came here for a writing post can I suggest this or this.

Normally when I write for this blog, I do so as Matt – a guy who loves writing. Today I am writing as Matthew Brown, chair of the Thanet Creative Writers charity. With my chair hat well and truly on, I have to point out that I am speaking only for myself – this is not an official proclamation by the charity, just an expression of sadness.

We recently updated our listing of Thanet based writers’ groups. Almost immediately there was aggression and abuse over content relating to one of the many groups called Thanet writers’ (or something similar). Someone actually went to the trouble of registering a new WordPress blog just to express their hate.

To clarify which Thanet writers’ group jennykettle was trolling for: I am not talking about this Thanet Writers who (as far as I know) launched their website at the same time Thanet Creative Writers formed and I am not talking about any of the Thanet (insert word here) writers’ groups (honestly, check the listing, there are a lot of similarly named groups). Back when we were the same group we met in the chapel. That specific Thanet writers’ group, which might or might not meet in the chapel now, is the group in question. They, like others, go by the name Thanet Writers.

In the year since they parted from Thanet Creative Writers, individuals have periodically taken it upon themselves to attack us on their behalf. That’s not good for anyone. The trustees of Thanet Writers have written to assure us that they are not behind the attacks and it is nothing to do with them.

I have said it before and, because it apparently needs saying again, I will say it again. I wish Thanet Writers all the best. Anyone working to support local writers is doing a good thing. If those who wish to enjoy writing are helped then this is a win. I’ve even recommended that particular Thanet writers’ group to people I’ve met who live in Broadstairs. There is no war to fight here, people. I am at a loss as to what else to do.

The entirety of the trustees of Thanet Creative Writers are at a loss to explain why some local people have gotten a bee in their bonnet about our two groups but please leave us (both groups) out of it. We have had to endure spiteful rants from local creatives on Facebook; a hate filled diatribe published on the blog of a local publisher filled with all sorts of misinformation and non-facts; and now, trollish comments on our blog. Even giving the first question of the ask us hard questions series the benefit of the doubt, enough is enough.

I have no idea who is out there trying to stir up hate but at Thanet Creative Writers we are all about peace, kindness, and respect. Thanet Creative Writers exists to foster creativity, to enable people, and to help those that want to enjoy writing to jolly well enjoy writing. We are pretty sure that this is what Thanet Writers are all about too. All this other nonsense is doing no one any good. Please stop.

Yes, I know that the details (in our listing) for Thanet Writers is sketchy at best. This is because their website (at least what was their website when we were the same group) does not load for me. All I have to go on what I remember, hear on the grapevine, or find on other websites.

Clearly, this was not good enough for jennykettle. A user who is now the sole occupant of the site’s blacklist.

I’m at my wits’ end with this. This website exists to raise awareness of the good works of Thanet Creative Writers as a charity and support writers in the joy of writing. The aim of publishing a listing of writers’ groups was to help people connect with other writers. It is not here for petty individuals to start fights. Take your school bully mentality somewhere else – it is not wanted here.

In light of this ongoing abuse, I have come to an editorial decision to carry no further information about this particular Thanet based writers’ group. Thanet Writers, I truly am sorry that your loudest fans seem to be loud and obnoxious but I cannot keep dealing with this aggression from parties unknown. It is really not worth the hassle.

This policy will stand until such time as the board of trustees directs me to change the policy or another, better, approach presents itself. Future editions of the comprehensive listing of writers and poets groups and events will carry a link to this post but no details at all. Unless the trustees want to write to me with definitive details of when and where they currently meet in which case I will include that information.

So if in the future, there is no information at all about Thanet Writers, it is because of the bullies and the trolls. Congratulations I hope this makes you happy, mean people.

Seriously, though, I do not want to disadvantage one group because of a hate filled minority but I cannot and will not keep putting up with this bullying.

I appeal to the trustees of Thanet Writers to join us in taking a stand against bullying and aggression. The aims of our two groups overlap extensively – work with us so that the trolls cannot win.

Thanet Creative Writers and Thanet Writers are siblings and that, in so far as writers’ groups go, makes us family. Family should stand together. Between us, we must surely have more than enough active supporters and volunteers to pack out many of the smaller functions rooms at local venues. Imagine the kind of events we could run if we work together.

Let us write a new chapter in which the small-minded and mean-spirited have no place and writers new and established can work together.

To avoid ending this post on a downer. Here is a fun video about not feeding the trolls.

Do unto others as they should do to you…

Anyway, this is me signing off and wishing you all peace, love, and a joyful writing experience.

Update

What do you know, commonsense has prevailed.

Screenshot from 2017-04-23 20:15:08.png

Thank you for your change of heart.

Vote Day 2017

This Star Wars day (May the 4th be with you), we in Thanet and other areas will be electing county councillors.

What has this got to do with writing?

In and of itself very little. Except that your county council runs the local libraries. Libraries, of course, being a high volume consumer of books.

Libraries are also a good place to find or run literary events. for us writers, libraries matter. A lot.

Each year libraries are closed, downsized or merged in with other services which sometimes take over from the core aspects of literacy and book sharing. This is bad for us writers.

So before you vote this year, ask your local representatives what they will be doing to support libraries. Perhaps ask them what they will be doing to keep your local library open and well funded.

Thanet’s Writers

Creative Writers of Thanet and nearby areas have a lot to say about all sorts of things. I thought it might be an idea to experiment with creating a semi-regular post giving an overview of what other writers of Thanet are saying.

So as we amble gently past the 50 posts count, let’s go through the list of local writer’s blogs (found in the directory) and see what everyone has been saying (that’s not a competition entry).

There is a lot of good writing going on in and around Thanet and by in and around, I mean linked in some way to Thanet if only by virtue of participation. Location, when it comes tot he web, is as much a state of mind as a state of location.

Writer’s Tea and Chat regular, Artimis Blake has not posted anything on his blog aside from his competition entries but he has been vlogging, or video blogging.

His last post was about procrastination. Something we writers all suffer from sometimes. If you follow this blog (or my other blogs) you will realise I have a huge procrastination problem myself.

Jess Joy has been posting some very emotive fiction. Most recently Wave Cloud which I have struggled and failed to describe without spoiling. Just read it. When you are done with that, leave her a comment and then read Russian Doll. Anything I say will fail to do it justice so, again, just read it.

Nestled among the competition entry posts on Kentish Rambler’s blog is a poem: Home. It is not about what you think it might be about.

Brady Spice takes a look at the topic of the hook within a story. The hook is a vital part of the story crafting art. Hooked on reading is a good introduction to hooks and how they affect a reader. Some solid advice for writers there.

Local Author, Matthew Munson, last blogged about his fire walking experiences. So if fire walking was something you wanted to write about in your fiction, but you have never tried it, this very well written report on Matthew’s experiences may be valuable research. If you’ve not read his blog before, remember to leave a good comment so he knows that you were there.

Night of the hats looked most recently at the question of solving 3,000 year old crimes. Neil takes us through the steps of constructing a mystery plot and examining the science and logic of the solution. He also dishes up some solid advice on removing coincidence and unexplained unlikely events from a plot. After all a story, unlike real life, has to make sense.

These are not the only great posts on the blogs I have linked to. Get in there and see if you can’t find some more. Perhaps write about your five favourites in a blog post of your own.

A question for you “Thanet” writers.

So what do you think? Did you like this little review of the local writer’s blogging scene? Should this be a somewhat regular post that we make here?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Everything you ever wated to know about sharing links

During the competition, I have had a lot of people direct questions to me on the subject of sharing links. I am going to try and explain everything I know in a way that I hope will be useful.

In my opening paragraph, you might have noticed some differently coloured clickable text. The word “competition” links to the competition overview from week 1 while the word “links” leads to the jargon buster (which tells you what a link is). Pretty nifty right?

You can also share links on Facebook. I have no doubt that you have seen friends sharing news and funny blog posts every single day. You can also share your own content too.

Sharing links on Facebook the easy way

Take a look at almost any blog or news site and you will see things that look something like this.

Screenshot from 2017-03-17 14:27:44.png

That is from one of our competition entries.

Do you notice the button that says “Facebook”? This is what that link looks like on this blog.

Screenshot from 2017-03-17 14:29:59.png

You can see that three shares have already been detected. Is that not awesome?

Give the “Facebook” button a click. And this happens.

Screenshot from 2017-03-17 14:31:34.png

That box is all ready for me to share that link to my Facebook wall. There is even a box which invites me to “say something about this”. When I am done I can press “Post to Facebook” (bottom right).

That is all well and good but I want to share this link to our group. Do you see where it says “share on your own timeline”? Let’s click that and change it.

Screenshot from 2017-03-17 14:32:45.png

I chose “share in group”. And then when the group box appeared I started typing until the group I wanted was in the list. Then I gave that a click.

Now I get to share the link to the group instead.

Sharing links to Facebook the advanced way

That was the easy way to share links. Now we are going to learn about an advanced way to share links that will also help you learn something about blogging.

It’s actually almost as easy. However, this link sharing method is just a touch more fiddly.

Look up right now. At the top of your screen – you can probably see a long bar. Something like this:

Screenshot from 2017-03-17 14:34:19

Do you see the text inside the box? That is the address of the page you are looking at. As you did not have to log in or enter any magic passwords to see this post, if you were to give this link to someone else, they would see this article just the same as you would.

copy-url

Now, let us copy that. You can highlight the text, right-click, and press copy; or you can highlight the text and press control+C; on an android device long press and choose copy.

If you take that text and go over to the facebook group you can paste it into a message. You will see exactly the same stuff appear as when you shared it from the button.

However, there will be this big bit of ugly text. You can go ahead and remove that from your post – facebook is done with it now and understands that you want to share the link.

This technique allows you to share almost any page on Facebook. You can even use it to share the group, pages, and events too.

How to share links in a blog post

Links on blog posts are formatted using the a tag and the href attribute. Don’t worry – you don’t need to know about that if you are using WordPress. If you are interested you can check the HTML view of your post later and see what I mean.

WP-post

If you have posted on a blog before then you have probably seen something like this before. If you have yet to get that far check out this guide which will talk you through everything you need to know about getting started with posting on WordPress.

Take a close look at the toolbar. After the B for bold and I for italics, there are two links for bulleted and numbered lists. After that is an icon which is supposed to look like links in a chain. That’s for linking with.

First, you highlight your text that you want linked and then you press that link button. You should get a box like this:

Screenshot from 2017-03-17 14:43:11

You will probably notice that there are a list of our blog posts in the big box. That’s a helpful tool to help you make links to your own stuff. Linking to related content that you have already posted is a great idea but that is a story for another time.

Right now we are interested in the first box that says URL. URL is another name for the link text that we copied before. Paste the link text in the URL box. Then press “Add Link”.

That is all there is to it. While you are getting used to adding links I highly recommend that you give your links a test click after you publish to check they are all working. If one has gone wrong you can always hit edit and have another go.

Using links for pings

If you link to the current competition post from the competition entry, you will ping our blog and (once we’ve checked it is a true ping) someone (probably me) will okay it. Then your link will appear in the list under the competition post.

On WordPress, you do not have to do anything special. It will take care of everything for you.

Over to you

I hope that this has proven to be a helpful tutorial. I did not expect to ever write a WordPress tutorial in my life and so far I have written three just for this blog. Please let me know if I was clear enough and if you could follow what I was saying – I am still quite new to writing introductory tutorials.

Do you have anything to add? What neat things have you found to do with links?