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 >>>

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Advice Winners

Here is some free advice: Keep track of things you need to do that have a deadline.

That was some advice that this week I should have been paying attention to. Which is somewhat ironic as the competition theme for last week was about advice.

It seems I managed to confuse myself and not publish the winners. So, better late than never, here they are. Before w get to that, let me say you cannot win if you do not enter. And now on with the show, as they say.

Winning by votes

To win this section you had to post a link in Writers of Thanet. This week was a tie between first place winner nwillcox and first place winner ProfBenj.

Winning comment

Picking a winning comment was, this week, the hardest thing for me to do. After much mind changing and debate I settled on this comment by Jess Joy. Comments that show that you read the post are always a kindness and (if you ask me) always welcome.

Winning post

I write poetry myself and my internal critic voices its opinions about all poets. Thus I am very critical of other poets inside my head that my one rule is that I keep my thoughts to myself. I’m telling you this to try and give you a feel for just how impressed I was with the winner this week.

Don’t, just don’t by Authority is something everyone should read. It is that good!

Over to you

We are about to hit the deadline for this week’s competition and I am about to do this all over again. Feel free to nag if I take too long posting the next batch of winners.

Who was your pick for best post and why?

 

My favourite book ever

If you ask me what my favourite book is I am likely to tell you that it is whatever amazing book I am reading at the moment. That said, I am quite likely to quote you such books as “Purple Cow” by Seth Godin. Our theme this week is favourite books.

Competition Theme

This is the theme for this week. Closing date to have posted it online is midnight on Monday the 1st.

My favourite book ever

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.

How to win

There will still be a “best post” and “best comment” but as you might have realised by now, we no longer have a “most comments”. Instead, there will be a “most votes on Reddit” section. This week, and going forward for the last few weeks, the Reddit section will be a special one created for the competition. This is also where the grand, overall, winner will be chosen by you.

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).

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.