Lots of Winners

Is it Friday already? Wow. Where did my week go? I honestly figured I would have the winners list published by Wednesday at the latest. This week’s theme of what stops us writing seems oddly appropriate now.

Last week we switched things up and pushed you to start using new social media outposts.

Best Post

Oh ye gods, this is the bit I do not find easy. You are too talented by half. Seriously, very few of you had ever written a blog post before much less ran an entire blog and written for it each week. I am so impressed with all of you that words fail me. Really they do. And, if you know me, you know that words rarely fail me.

This week, I have given up trying to pick one winner and have selected a handful. One overall winner and several category “prizes”.

In the category of most meta post

The award for most meta post of the contest so far goes to Artimis Blake who writes:

I will finish this later…

We have all been there, I think.

In the category of best reflective post

The award for the best reflective article (with a meta twist) goes to Night of the Hats. [1]

[1] Spoiler: I have read the entire thing.

In the category of experimental writing

The award for experimental writing goes to Braidy Spice. Along with this award, comes a link to our guide on linking.

In the category of Romance and Relationships

The award for best post goes to Kentish Rambler. I’d say Kentish has what it takes to write for the large women’s magazines market. This is a top quality entry in this category.

In the category of crime drama

The award goes to ProfBenJ. A great example of well-paid-off foreshadowing. There were some Dirk Gently moments there.

And the overall winner is…

The overall winner this week is Jess Joy with a well-executed sequel to her lady of letters. I am reminded of Irene in “A Lady of Letters” from Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads.

Best Comment

For best comment this week I am going to award the prize to the most prolific commenter: ProfBenJ. Seriously, you seem to be everywhere. Well done.

Reddit voted top post

This is the feature that replaced the “most comments” section. The idea is to vote for what you liked best. The community voted top post was a tie between Niel, ProfBenJ, and JessJoy who all got two votes.

Either you loved each other equally or no one voted for anyone else. I’m going to go ahead and assume the love was flowing freely.

I’m feeling talkative right now and am going to let you in a little secret. After the 12 weeks of this contest are over, there will be one grand winner. The final winner will be chosen by you out of all the posts written for the contest over the entire time it was running. Even ones that were written by me (I’d love to know how you think I stack up).

This final contest will take place here. That is a special Reddit set up just for us and this contest. You may post as many of your entries as you wish, vote for as many as you want, and you may do so from now. (Let’s see who was paying close attention, eh).

Over to you

Everyone who took part did a great job and deserves as much comment, upvote, like, and share love as you can give. Go show these amazing bloggers some serious love.

The one piece of advice I feel qualified to give

The advice I feel qualified to give today is this: Don’t run a competition. Actually, that’s not entirely true – competitions are fun but they are also taxing and this week’s theme is up late.

Competition Theme

This is the theme for this week. Closing date to have posted it online is midnight on Monday the 24th.

The one piece of advice that
I feel qualified to give

You can write anything you want that fits that theme. As little or as much as you feel you need to. If you are new to this and joining us late welcome, thank you for joining us, please see week one’s post and the FAQ if you need more information.

Details

There will still be a “best post” and “best comment” but there will not be a winner for the most comments. Instead, there will be a “most votes on Reddit” section. This week, the Reddit section will be Writers of Thanet. Entries that take part in this new section will be given preference in the event of a tie (and let’s be honest, you are all very good). You will need a Reddit account for the grand finish so if you have not yet joined, it might be time to push yourself again.

Just like last week, to get “best post” you need to have linked to this post (unless you write something which is unequivocally orders of magnitude better than all the rest combined. If you need help with links see this post and if you need general WordPress help see this post.

The Wings of Winners

Last week we challenged you to take flight. The Theme was If I had wings and could fly.

All week I have been going back and forth in my mind trying to pick a winner. Picking a winner, is, without a doubt, the hardest thing I have to do each week. However, after much deliberation, I have finally chosen.

Now, obviously, there are three winners. One for “best” post. One for “best” comment and one for the most comments.

So without any further ado let’s get to that.

The best post award goes to…

Jess Joy for Anchored. A story that was flawlessly captivating and brought us a topic that I am very fond of – dreams. If you have not read this story yet, you jolly well should. It is great.

I don’t want to say too much for fear of giving away the thread of the story. I feel that you should go and get lost in the tale yourself. If you’ve not done so, leave Jess Joy a great comment to let her know you’ve read her story.

The most comments award goes to…

Benjdeal’s blog post, Wings. This was not a simple comment count like it has been in past entries. As we get more popular spam comments become a problem. If you read a comment, sometimes you can see that the comment has nothing to do with the post and is just there for the “free link” that leaving a comment brings.

Even taking into account spam comments, Benjdeal got more legitimate comments. I would suggest Akismet, or JetPack, or something, to keep those under control.

Of course, this week we are not judging by most comments but most votes. So it is entirely up to you.

The best comment award goes to…

Kentish Rambler for her comment on Jess Joy’s post. There were many great comments posted on most of the entries this week. But this one I felt really typified what I think of as a good comment.

For me, a good comment is one that repays the writer by showing not only that you enjoyed the post but that you read it and engaged with it. You are all very, very good at posting great comments.

Over to you

Which comment would you have picked as a winner? Have you ever had comment spam? What would you do if you had wings and could fly?

Got a comment or thought – why not share it with us in the comments below.

 

Five things authors can do to build a platform

Building a platform worthy of attracting publisher attention is no small feat. Here are five easy tasks that will get you in the right direction.

If you have never heard of an Authorial Platform (an author’s platform) before then I highly recommend that you read What is an Author Platform. You might also want to keep the Platform Building Jargon buster handy

1. Have a good blog

A blog or a full website can easily form the foundation of your platform.

Ideally, you should have your own website with your own domain name where you can publish whatever you want (including running a blog).

When you are just starting out, this is often a bit much to ask. Often because of the technical requirements that you have to reach. That said there are some excellent hosting services with very good customer support that will help you through almost all of the steps. So this is less of a barrier if you have a little cash to throw at the problem.

A blog, such as WordPressTumblrmblR or similar can be a good enough place to start. Best of all it they are free and fairly easy to set up. So if you are not yet ready to set up a full website a free blog can be just as good.

All you need to do is decide how many times a week you are going to publish and keep to that. If you only publish once a week (not a bad start) then pick a day for the content to go live. Try and write your post some time before publication day so it is ready when the time arrives.

For ideas of things to talk about, see our platform building themes from the competition we have been running.

2. Connect with others

Almost all of the remaining tips there are to give are in some way social. The first step after setting up your blog is to connect with other bloggers. There are a few ways to connect but they all boil down to showing some attention and communicating:

  • Talk on local forums of Facebook groups
  • Comment on other author’s blogs
  • Chat via email
  • Connect of Facebook
  • Follow on WordPress

Connecting with others gives you a loose assosiation fo fellow writers to bounce ideas off of, to read and get ideas from, and to trade comments with. Think of your network of fellow writer-bloggers as a writers group online.

This community is the first seeds of the community and following that you are trying to build arround yourself.

3. Get the word out

Now you have your community foundation in place it is time to get the word out. There are many different ways to do that and what works for you really depends on who you are and where the kind of people taht are interested in you and your writing might be found.

The only way to figure that out, sometimes, is to suck it and see.

  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook (page not group)
  • Tumblr
  • Reddit

Each of those places that you can promote your content has different requirements for success and differing levels of commitment. For example, a Facebook page should have a solid piece of content every single day for maximum effect. When you are just starting out forming a small public group for writers to share their blog posts with each other might be a better way to go; or it might be a terrible idea. These things are not cut and dry by any means.

Figure out what works for you and stick to it.

4. Link yourself up

One trick authors often miss is that they write great content which then vanishes into the archives never to be seen again. Don’t let that be you.

Instead, revisit the themes you have touched on in the past.

Once you have been going a year, if you find yourself short of ideas to write about, look back one year and publish a revised and updated look at the same topic. Not only will most of your readers have missed the first one but the idea itself will be fresh again.

Link readers back to the older stuff when you mention it as part of your new content. The chances are that at least half of your readers will have never seen what you published six months or a year ago.

By linking to other content you provide your readers with somewhere to go after they are done with the page they are currently reading. Why do you think wikis, which do this all the time, are so popular? You can browse those all day, jumping from topic to topic.

5. Don’t stop.

Whatever you do, don’t stop. Keep going.

Platforms take time to establish. That hard work can drain away if you leave your blog or soical media outposts without fresh updates. When you are knee deep in novel creation, you might only manage an update saying how many hours, words, or pages you managed. That’s fine for a while.

If you are working hard for a longer period of time there arre some other ways to keep those plates spinning.

  • Pay an assistant writer to publish content for you
  • Ask your community of fellow writers to provide guest posts
  • Build up a backlog of extra posts for times when you are busy
  • Publish a list of your posts about a single theme
  • Take a few pictures of your pet and post them

There are many one-off posts that have very littleto do with you and your writing and readers will happily accept one or two highly off topic posts every now and then without complaint. The rule of thumb is the 80:20 rule or about 1 off topic post for every 4 on topic posts.

Some writers, when they are working on a new novel will publish excerpts fromt he novel that they are very proud of. Others will grab a camera and read a page or two and put up a video.

There are many ways to turn what you are doing into more content.

Keep going.

Over to you

  • What are your tips for keeping going or platform building?
  • Have you tried something and it just did not work at all?
  • Have you found anything that works really well for you?

Tell us in the comments sections below.

What stops me writing?

This week our competition hits the half way mark and comes with a twist in the tale. If you are new to this and joining us late welcome, thank you for joining us, please see week one’s post and the FAQ if you need more information.

As with every week, there is a theme. As with every week, there will be three winners. This week, however, things change a little.

There will still be a “best post” and “best comment” but there will not be a winner for the most comments. Instead, it is time for us to push ourselves and enhance the platform we have been building with our blogs. Entries that take part in this new section will be given preference in the event of a tie (and let’s be honest, you are all very good).

Additionally, to get “best post” you need to have linked to this post (unless you write something which is unequivocally orders of magnitude better than all the rest combined. If you need help with links see this post and if you need general WordPress help see this post.

But first the theme, this one is a sequal:

Competition Theme

This is the theme for this week. Closing date to have posted it online is midnight on Monday the 17th.

What stops me writing?

You can write anything you want that fits that theme. As little or as much as you feel you need to.

A bonus will be awarded to any writer that manages to link back to their own “What gets me writing” post (week one) in a way that fits with the post and seems natural. If judging is as hard as it normally is, that bonus could help.

How to really win this week

In preparation to our big finish, you will need to step out of your comfort zone once more. This time, however, it is not such a big step. If you can sign up for Facebook, then you can do this too.

Have you ever used Reddit? You will need an account there. It is free to sign up and free to use (just like Facebook or Twitter).

On Reddit is a section called Thanet Blogs. I created it a few months ago and it has been mostly dormant for a while now. That makes it perfect for our new competition element.

Once you have published your blog post, you will need to post a link to the Reddit. WordPress users, that means making sure you post the public URL and not your private one.

The winner will be the post with the most up votes (down voting by competition entrants is not allowed). Aside from us, anyone who uses Reddit could come and vote. You could, for example, get your friends to come and vote for you. You might want to be sporting and vote for each other too.

If you use WordPress (or Google analytics on Blogger) you may see traffic (that is visitors) being sent to you from Reddit. This is good. Once you are comfortable posting on Reddit you might feel like extending out from the sandbox of this particular subreddit and finding larger communities. Writers of Thanet, for example, or the global Writers, if you are feeling brave. There is even a Thanet Creative Writers (which is just about Thanet Creative Writers).

Getting your links out into relevant places is part of establishing and growing your platform. (The opposite of getting your link in irrelevant places – which is spam).

The answer to the question “what stops me writing?” might now be “reading reddit”. You have been warned.

You will be needed your Reddit account for the total lack of grand prize and the Overall Winner selection at the end.

Writers Writing Update: Winners and links

I’ve restarted this opening paragraph a dozen or so times today. Even as I write I am also fighting the urge to delete what I have written and write something else instead.

I want to write a post that looks back on some of the highlights of the competition so far, link out to all the entries that I have found for this week and also brings you the winners from last week’s entries.

That is probably asking just a bit too much from myself. It’s been a busy week and this is the first day where I have had a chance to catch up with things. I’m also a bit torn because we’ve recently started publishing writing prompts and I want to go and play with them too.

If I had wings…

If I had wings, I would probably forget all this and take to the sky. Forget the ground, I’d be up there thinking “man this is so much fun but I need a thicker coat”. Our theme for this week is: If I had wings and could fly. The superhero I’ve daydreamed about being more often than any other is Angel (who does have wings and can fly).

My fantasies aside, let’s look at what you have been publishing.

As far as I can tell, that’s all the folks that have published for this week so far. At least, that was all the ones I found when I checked yesterday evening.

Who do I admire?

If you read the rambling that I write for Thanet Creative Writers, Thanet Star, The Fantastic site, and so forth, then you will probably know that I have a few writers that I utterly adore. Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, Neil Gaiman, Iain M Banks, Ted Dekker, and Anne Rice, to name but a few.

In cast you missed it: Last week’s theme was about admiration. Here are the winners.

But first, every last person who entered – just so you know that I did not (or maybe I did) miss anyone out.

Side note: Your blogs are starting to gain traction and I detected the first sniff of spam slipping past the filters. I’m going to write about spam comments soon, I think. Attracting spam, though bad, is often the first sign that you are reaching the world. Keep doing what you do.

We admire the participants

I’m guessing that this topic was not a hugely inspirational prompt for you wonderful writers. That’s a shame as influences are an important topic for writers to disclose but never mind, it’s all good. And I have less to try and pick a winner from (so that’s good for me).

The winners

Winners are found in three categories each week.

  1. Best post
  2. Most comments
  3. Best comment

This week we have one single winner. Which has forced me to go and do some editing to this finish. The awards for best post, best comment, and most comments goes to…

…profbenj.

I did not realise that we had just one winner until I looked at my notes and realised that all three sections had been given to the same person. I was tempted to give the best post to someone else just to split it up a bit but the truth is profbenj has written a most deserving post – “Whom do I admire?” is a newspaper quality personal story with a narrative that catches you up and takes you back through a memory. It also has a deservingly large collection of comments.

Likewise, the comment on Jess Joy’s post leapt out at me as an ideal comment. It showed that the comment poster had read and participated in the post they had read and yet raises interesting questions and adds, I feel, true value to the post. It was not the only comment to do that but this one struck me as saying a lot with a few words. I’m not even sure I can say what I liked so much about it but as soon as I read it I thought “this might be the winner”.

Congratulations to all who took part but particularly to last week’s winner. This week’s winner(s) are going to be just as hard to pick, I can tell that already. You only have a few days so if you have not yet posted. I’d not hang around much longer if I were you.

Writing Competition: If I had wings and could fly

Another week, another great theme for our writing competition that also builds your author platform. If you are new to this and joining us late welcome, thank you for joining us, please see week one’s post and the FAQ if you need more information.

Competition Theme

This is the theme for this week. Closing date to have posted it online is midnight on Monday the 3rd 10th (oops).

If I had wings and could fly

You can write anything you want that fits that theme. As little or as much as you feel you need to.

Take flight with this open-ended theme

This theme is designed to be very open-ended. If you have been writing biographically for the competition then this might be a time to talk about your dreams or, equally, a chance to engage in some fiction. The sky, literally, is the limit this week.

As always, we strongly encourage you to link to this post. This lets your readers know why you are writing this but also lets us know (most of the time) that you have entered this week’s competition.

For winning that coveted most comments award, your best bet is to publish early and then to share it on your Facebook and Twitter feeds.

I wish you all the best of luck and look forward to reading what you write.

Last week’s winners

All things being equal I will be compiling a list of last week’s winners. as you might have realised, this is really hard as you are all very good. I will try to publish that list as soon as I can. That said, this is a busy week for me so there may be delays. If I keep on top of everything, the winners will be posted today. If not… Well, they will be published eventually.

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.

My Genre: Winners

As I think I might have mentioned, I have struggled to choose one winner this week. At last, I think I have picked one but it was not at all easy.

The theme was why I write in my genre – a question that not all professionals can answer. You each approached the theme in a different way and I was deeply impressed with each and every post I read. You are a very talented bunch.

The participants

Below I have listed all the posts that I found. If yours is not here then I did not find it. I checked the pings & comments, the regulars, and the Facebook group. Only four of you commented a link or pinged the blog I awarded you four non-countable bonus points which are only redeemable for bragging rights. (If you need help linking).

Up to this point, there have always been seven or eight of you but some of you took a week off. At least I hope you did because I would feel terrible if I missed anyone out.

Now for the winners. Drum roll, please.

Best Comment and Most Comments

Jess Joy was the runaway winner this week in terms of comment count. Posting something fun and easy to engage with can do wonders for getting comments going. This is a great platform building technique in and of itself.

The most commented post was also the home of some amazing comments. Many of the comments mimicked the style of the post and it looks like you all had a lot of fun with it. So I am awarding Ansteysp the best comment prize.

Best Post

This week I am awarding the prize to Artimis Blake’s “Why do I write in my Genre”. While every single last post was a contender for the prize, for different reasons this post spoke to me where I live. This is purely chance, I think, but as I have to choose just one and it was so very, very close…

From a platform building perspective, this post is very good content because it is something fans and the press can quote easily.

Over to you

Feel free to heap likes, comments, praise, and general congratulations to our winners.

There is no right or wrong answer here, who would you choose as the winner from this set?

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?