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Ranking Social Media

Posted on October 18, 2017 at 3:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Unless we are completely tuned out all of us are on some form of social media. Most people are on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram but which ranks best? Which form of social media is where you should be? Some people and advice will tell you you need to be everywhere..yes but in a sense. You don’t need to be on every single social media because some sites are simply not for everyone. Below is my list of social media and how I think they rank up to one another, why they are popular and whether or not they are beneficial to you or worth your consideration.

 

1. Facebook

Yes Facebook is hit a bit of a snag recently but don’t let that nonsense and small talk fool you as Facebook is what most people have, what most people use and where they are at. Of course the one thing you’ll need to remember is as an author or blogger that you eed your own Author/Brand Page. Giving people your personal page is a big no no so don’t do that. SO why is Facebook so popular? Well for one most people have one, you can join groups, find readers and bloggers, create events and your brand page is stacked with a ton of things you can do to interact with people. Also Facebook Ads are still the best bet in order to gain an audience or get sales. Facebook may not work for you however even so it’s at the very least a good social media site you need to be on so people know you exist.

 

2. Twitter

Some don’t get Twitter but to me it’s very easy once you get the hang of it and it can be quite interactive once you know your way around. With Twitter you can carve out your small bio to let people know what you are and what you do. You can use hashtags which is the best way to gain a following, show people you know your stuff and it’s a great way to interact with people. You can use many Twitter tools, images and while it’s not the caliber that Facebook is, it can be a great way to get notoriety for you and your brand. Like Facebook, I believe Twitter is a place you need to be. Some find it boring or difficult but it’s something that works better than it looks and if you spend a little time on it each day you’ll find yourself liking it and making the most of it in no time.

 

3. Instagram

All the buzz seems to be on instagram as the place you need to be. I just recently joined instagram but have heard many things about it and have had numerous people tell me to join so I finally did. Instagram is good because it’s an image based site, using images to capture your attention and the best part is unlike a limit on Twitter you can go hashtag crazy on here usually 20-30. The key to instagram is getting likes on what you post and to make sure what you post is quality content and stuff you want people to see. For authors you want to sort of give them an inside look at your daily writing life, behind the scenes stuff or even teasers. Between the popularity, hashtags and content you want to get the right people to see your stuff. Instagram is where it’s at right now, I just joined so I can’t give the best advice but It’s definitely where you should be or at least give a try on.

 

4. Youtube

Youtube could technically be in the Top 2 but I don’t think of it as a true social media site but more as a video sharing and viewing site. If you go by the number of people on there then it falls as 2nd but when it comes to using it as social media well..hence the reason it’s 4th on my list. Youtube is great for making videos, sharing content and getting the most content you can to learn on to expand your brand. Most people have a Youtube account but I imagine not many use it to their advantage or use it from a social media standpoint. For those who do use it as such it can be a great tool as video is one of the hottest things right now so if you can carve out a solid niche on Youtube then your doing pretty well for yourself.

 

5. Pinterest

I know what your thinking, really? Pinterest? Well again this is my personal preference but in all honesty I could put two other sites here and give you the same type of results and you’d have the same reaction. Pinterest is the most underrated out of the five hands down. However Pinterest is also probably the most under utilized and unique social media site of them all. Pinterest allows you to great boards and you place images within those boards. Think of it as Instagram but organized and you can create categories, and you love Instagram don’t you? Pinterest is rather difficult to gain a following but again like Instagram once you get the hang of it, post great quality content and establish your brand and reach your audience you’ll find it is a spot you’ll not only need to be but you’ll have fun and want to be there as well.

Simple and Easy Ways to Improve Your Pinterest

Posted on October 16, 2017 at 4:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Simple and Easy Ways to Improve Your Pinterest

 

When it comes to social media we all tend to want the same thing, to know how to make the most of it and to cash in so to speak. One social media outlet I’ve come to enjoy is Pinterest. Like many people it took me a while to get the hang of and even more so after I figured out how it worked I still needed to know how to make it work for me. So while I am by no means an expert on Pinterest and how to make the most of it I do have some simple tips on how you can improve your experience on the site.

 

-Pick Your Topics Wisely-

If you’re an author or blogger what are the 3-4 main topics you write about, know a lot about and are passionate about? Start off by making boards for these topics as it will show potential followers who you are and what you’re all about. It shows them you not only enjoy and care about these topics but you have a great deal of knowledge on them as well. Another helpful tip here is if you have a sub-topic that is a bit broad as in too broad to just talk about in one of your main four you can always make a board for that too. I have an Unknown, Unexplained and Conspiracies Board and I found myself posting a lot of UFO stuff in there so rather than keep posting all of them there I created a UFO board, see? Be diverse and expand if needed. After a while between people you follow and stuff you post you’ll find other ideas to make boards for.

 

-Re-Pin YouButt Off!

This is a little unconventional but I haven’t seen it as a bad thing. Go to your homepage and load up by re-pinning any image that fits your boards. Just keep scrolling down and re-pin, re-pin and re-pin. I don’t believe there is a limit but then again you don’t wanna go too nuts. Try pinning ten to twenty images to a board. I personally like to re-pin a ton before bed so that way when I wake up I see how many people liked, re-pinned my stuff or followed me or my boards. Pinerest is more about re-pinning others content than it is about what you bring into the site. You can bring in as many outside images as you want but the site is more based off re-pinning others so make the most of it.

 

-Upgrade to a Business Page

If you’re an author ro blogger you should change your account to a business page. With a business page you can use analytics to see whose following you, your most popular images, which topics are being re-pinned the most and which categories are getting the most traffic. This helps you know your audience or at least gives you a general idea of who you’re appealing to. Another cool thing about using a business page is it gives you slideshows. You can put up to 5 slideshows and what it does is it shows your boards at the top of your page. This helps showcase your Top boards to other users and interests them into following you and gives them an idea of what you’re about. A good tip, use the 4 topics your into as I mentioned earlier and make them a part of your slideshow.

 

-Follow How You Wish

Some people follow a ton of people in hopes in getting followed back and others are casual about it and follow a few here and there and do the ole follow back. I personally am casual about who I follow as I don’t want to go nuts especially since Pinterest took away showing when the last time someone was on. So follow people on Pinterest with what makes you most comfortable, either go nuts and follow a ton or be casual about it, the choice is yours. A site that helps you with Pinterest, Traffic Wonker suggests doing a mass following and that you follow 100-150 people a day, this is a good thing to go by if you want followers but again with Pinterest no longer showing you when people have been on last it may mean you follow people but don’t get that follow back. Again the choice is yours and always remember to follow people or boards that appeal to you and are about topics that you have or are interested in seeing.

 

-Make Your Descriptions Pop

It’s been said that boards that have descriptions that are up to 400 characters or a small paragraph long tend to be more noticed then boards that have less or no descriptions at all. The reason for this is people want to know what your board is about and reading the description will help them do that. Also the long descriptions show people you are dedicated to your board and you clearly must know your stuff if you wrote a lot about it. Traffic Wonker again goes into detail about this. Start off by writing long descriptions for your top boards and see how the progress goes. Then start with your mid range popular boards then do your least ones last.

 

-Check Out TrafficWonker

TrafficWonker is a site that helps you improve and gain a bigger following on Pinterest. You start off with a free 30 day trial then you can pay a small fee afterwards if you enjoy it. What you can do it schedule what boards are shown and it shuffles your pins to your followers and to people who may follow you. It also automatically does it doe you so all you have to do is schedule and watch the results. I tried it and I was impressed with it, it’s worth checking out if you want an easy and unique way to improve your Pinterest experience.

So I Watched Carrie (1976) and (2013)

Posted on September 18, 2017 at 4:50 PM Comments comments (0)

Zahra Akbar is my latest guest who wrote an article on her watching of one of Stephen King's classic films, Carrie. She watched both versions and gives her thoughts on both of the films. 

So I Watched Carrie (1976) and Carrie (2013)

Margaret: Red. I might have known it would be red.

Carrie: It's pink, Mama.

Carrie: Look what Tommy gave me, Mama. Aren't they beautiful?

Margaret: I can see your dirty pillows. Everyone will.

Carrie: Breasts, Mama. They're called breasts, and every woman has them.

Carrie is a quite popular novel by Stephen King and though, it had been on my reading list, I happened to come across its 2013 movie adaptation first. And then, I couldn’t help but watch the 1976 adaptation as well. If you’re into horror, you’ll probably love Carrie. If you’re into high school movies, like Mean Girls, you should give Carrie a chance, though Stephen King’s mean girls receive more than just a lesson.

I haven’t read the book yet, so I’ll be comparing both the movie adaptations with each other. It’s hard to say which version I liked the most, as both have added their own flavor to King’s original plot. For those who haven’t read the book [SPOILER ALERT], it revolves around a teenager protagonist, Carrie White, who lives with her mother. And Mama has issues – serious issues.

Carrie’s mother Margaret White is the most interesting character in the story. Piper Laurie played Margaret in 1976 version, and in 2013, we see none other than the gorgeous Julianne Moore playing the sociopath and religious fanatic mother of poor Carrie. Both these women portrayed the character amazingly – my favorite, however, was Moore. She added so much intensity to the character. Laurie looks kind of innocent for some part of the movie. I love how King has developed this character. She gives you nightmares – she gives you this sense of having an untold story behind her behavior and actions.

In the 2013 movie, Chloe Grace Mortez plays Carrie. I don’t know why, but I got a sense of gloom and darkness from her even from the first scene she appeared in. She’s definitely pretty – prettier than Carrie White is actually supposed to be. And you can’t help but feel bad for her for having to live with a crazy mother, but you also kind of know even more insanity is about to be unleashed. Sissy Spacek from 1976 adaptation looks more of a regular girl. Innocent and victimized, yes, but not completely unhappy. She seemed like a person who excitement and happiness. Though, Carrie is a tragic character – but I got the vibes of tragedy more from Chloe than Sissy Spacek.

Another important character than I feel the need to talk about is the mean girl, Chris Hargensen. I don’t need to think twice here – my favorite version of Chris is Nancy Allen from the 1976 adaptation. Portia Doubleday (from the 2013 movie) is also as mean as it gets as Chris Hargensen, but she looks like just another mean girl from just another high school drama.

As far as the story is concerned, the 2013 version uses technology to torment Carrie, this just makes the whole scenario more sinister, and we’re also reminded of the cyber bullying in real world.

Author: Zahra Akbar

Intro: Zahra Akbar is a blogger and writer from Pakistan. She blogs at dragonjournal.com


Remembering Hitchcock

Posted on September 18, 2017 at 4:15 PM Comments comments (0)

For this latest piece I once again have a guest. Christine Valentor. She wrote a piece on Alfred Hitchcock that I found very interesting. Here's a little more on her and her article on the great Alfred Hitchcock.

Christine Valentor lives in Chicago and is a Horror/ Fantasy writer. Her blog Witchlike can be found at https://witchlike.wordpress.com/ One of her short stories about Jack the Ripper has recently been featured in the anthology A Box Under The Bed, due for Amazon release on Oct. 1. Link: https://www.amazon.com/Box-Under-Bed-anthology-stories-ebook/dp/B075C9D7L1

She love Anne Rice, Daphne Du Maurier, all things creepy, and of course Hitchcock!


If you have ever watched the original Psycho, or The Birds, or Rebecca (preferably alone on a stormy night, with all your doors bolted) you know what it is to experience Alfred Hitchcock at his best. The Master of Suspense, the Sorcerer of Shock, and the King of Comeuppance Hitchcock is by far one of the best film directors of the 20th century.

Alfred Joseph Hitchcock was born on August 13, 1899 in Leytonstone England. His father was a greengrocer, his mother a homemaker. He was the youngest of three children, an average student and a bit of loner.

But yawn. That story is far too mundane! In researching Hitch, I suspected something must have happened in his formative years. Some weird event must have helped create this creative and twisted genius, who would later alarm the world with his disturbing psychological horror.

It turns out a few things did happen.

When he was five years old, Hitchcock's father wanted to punish him for behaving badly. Little Alfred was sent to the local police station with a note asking the officer to ock him up in jail for five minutes. This incident left a lifelong scar on Hitchcock, possibly influencing his frequent themes of harsh punishments, wrongful accusations and sly retributions for evil doers. He had a permanent fear of the police.

He also had a permanent fear of Jesuits.

Hitchcock was raised Roman Catholic and attended Jesuit Grammar School at Saint Ignatius College. Years later, when asked in an interview how he an ostensibly polite gentleman managed to create such malevolent stories, Hitchcock replied: spent three years studying with the Jesuits. They used to terrify me to death with everything they did, and now I'm getting my own back by terrifying other people.

Hitch incorporated dark aspects of religion in his 1953 film I Confess. It starred Montgomery Clift as a Catholic priest who is wrongly accused of murder, but also hears the confession of the true murderer and is sworn to secrecy by his priestly vows.

Hitchcock's first job was as a draftsman for an electric cable company called Henley's. Even then, as a teenager, he was already writing scary tales. Some of these were published in the company's newsletter, The Henley Telegraph. Hitchcock's first piece, Gas, tells the story of a young woman who imagines that she is being assaulted one night in London but the twist at the end reveals it was all just a hallucination in the dentist's chair induced by the anesthetic.

Interestingly, one of the episodes featured on his television show Alfred Hitchcock Presents seems reminiscent of this tale. In the newer version, the woman's hallucination involves a futuristic society in which all men have been eradicated through a medicine originally intended to kill rats. There are no more men in the world! Babies are born through test tubes and they are always females! The woman wakes up from her dream to find that in reality, a famous scientist is currently experimenting with a medicine which will rid the world of rats! The woman takes a shotgun, attempts to kill the scientist and Well, you will just have to watch the episode to find out what happens.

His other early stories also indicate Hitchcockian creepiness and weird sexual overtones. One short story called And There Was No Rainbow (which some folk thought should have been banned) tells of a young man who goes out looking for a brothel, but instead stumbles into the house of a girl who is dating his best friend. Needless to say, psychological trauma ensues. Hitch also wrote a piece called Fedora which reportedly gave a strikingly accurate description of his future wife Alma Reville, although he had not yet met her! Was Alfred a secret psychic?

At the tender age of twenty, Alfred got a job at Paramount Studios as a title card designer for silent films. Within five years he was directing those films. His first commercial success was a thriller called The Lodger about London's notorious serial killer Jack the Ripper.

Around this time Alma Reville became Hitch's assistant director. The two were married on December 2, 1926. Alma became Hitchcock's closest collaborator. He rarely discussed her contributions to his films, although some were credited on screen. Alma was clearly the woman behind the great man but she avoided public attention.

Hitchcock had the unique experience of working in the film industry as it evolved through all its massive changes of the 20th century. In 1929, his production company began experimentation with sound, producing the first Talkies. Hitchcock's contributions included Blackmail, The Man Who Knew Too Much and his highly acclaimed The 39 Steps, which made him a star in the United States.

The 39 Steps established two unique Hitchcockian traditions: the Hitchcock Blonde and The MacGuffin.

The Hitchcock Blonde was the beautiful, ice-cool leading lady who started out picture perfect, but always became the disheveled victim of violent and twisted circumstances.

First personified in The 39 Steps by actress Madeleine Carroll, his other blondes included Grace Kelly, Tippi Hedren, Kim Novak and Janet Leigh. Hitch believed that these flawless, classy women left much to the sexual imagination they were ladylike in public but potential whores in the bedroom. He described this archetype as follows:

I think the most interesting women, sexually, are the English women. I feel that the English women, the Swedes, the northern Germans and Scandinavians are a great deal more exciting than the Latin, the Italian and the French women. Sex should not be advertised. An English girl, looking like a schoolteacher, is apt to get into a cab with you and, to your surprise, she'll probably pull a man's pants open. Without the element of surprise, the scenes become meaningless. There's no possibility to discover sex

The MacGuffin is a plot device an object thrown in for the purpose of intriguing the audience, but which will have little consequence in the overall story.

In a lecture at Columbia University, Hitchcock explained The MacGuffin as follows:

It might be a Scottish name, taken from a story about two men on a train. One man says, What's that package up there in the baggage rack? And the other answers, Oh, that's a MacGuffin. The first one asks, What's a MacGuffin? Well, the other man says, its an apparatus for trapping lions in the Scottish Highlands. The first man says, But there are no lions in the Scottish Highlands,and the other one answers, Well then, that's no MacGuffin! So you see that a MacGuffin is actually nothing at all.

The MacGuffin took on a life of its own in filmmaking. It is the Holy Grail of Arthurian legends. Some modern examples include: the Maltese Falcon in the film of the same name; the meaning of Rosebud in Citizen Kane; the Rabbit's Foot in Mission Impossible III, and the Heart of the Ocean necklace in Titanic.

Hitchcock's recognition and fame continued to grow. In 1939, he received The New York Film Critics Circle Award for his film The Lady Vanishes. Picturegoer Magazine called him Alfred the Great. The New York Times called him the greatest director of screen melodramas in the world, and compared him to other English treasures such as the Magna Carta and the Tower of London.

In 1940 Hitch directed Rebecca, based on the novel by Daphne Du Maurier. (If you have not read this masterpiece, you must do so immediately!) The film won an Academy Award for best picture, with a best director nomination.

Hitch and horror novelist Daphne Du Maurier formed a natural collaboration. His film The Birds a story of rebellious birds that slowly and creepily take over a California town was also based on a story written by Du Maurier.

A few years ago my local movie theater ran a big screen production of The Birds. Tippi Hedren, an iconic Hitchcock Blonde who stars in the film, came in as a guest speaker. I swear to god she looked EXACTLY the same as she did in the film! Over forty years had passed and the woman had not aged, not one day. You will find pictures of Tippi Hedren on the internet where she looks older, but these (I swear!) are not real. I believe the lady must have a Dorian Gray arrangement The internet pictures are aging as she herself stays young. (Anything would be possible in Hitch's world!)

Hitchcock's career peaked in the 1950's and 60's when he directed gems such as Rear Window, Vertigo, Strangers on a Train, and of course his mega-hit Psycho. This movie was the creepiest creep-fest of all, about a young woman (Janet Leigh) who goes to stay at a hotel run by a taxidermy obsessed man (Tony Perkins) who has a strange relationship with his dead mother!

Hitch's television series Alfred Hitchcock Presents had a ten year run from 1955 to 1965. The fascinating thing about these segments is that, by today's standards, they are very plain. No bells or whistles, no special effects just simple black and white cinematography, flat lighting, and mostly unknown actors yet the brilliant storytelling spoke for itself. Equally entertaining was Hitch's deadpan delivery of introductions. He always began with Good Evening and went on to speak of hauntings, poisonings, burials, demonic possession and the like, all the while never batting an eyelash.

Hitchcock moved to California and became an American citizen in 1955, although still retaining his English citizenship. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1980, a few months before his death. Film critic Roger Ebert considered it something of a snub that the Queen hesitated to give Hitch his knighthood, writing: Other British directors like Sir Carol Reed and Sir Charlie Chaplin were knighted years ago, while Hitchcock one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, was passed over. What took the Queen so long? Perhaps she was a bit spooked by him, or reluctant to invite him to the palace...

On April 29th, 1980, Sir Alfred Hitchcock died of renal failure in his home in Bel Air California. Despite his professed fears of the Jesuits, two priests came in his closing hours, giving a final mass at Hitchcock's home and hearing his last confession.

Gone but not forgotten, we will never ditch the Hitch! He shall always be alive in legacy, legend and the ominous voice that bids us "Good evening", yet warns to lock the doors and be afraid. Be very afraid.

Guest Post- Why is Horror Popular Now?

Posted on September 4, 2017 at 2:45 PM Comments comments (0)

One thing I decided it was time to start doing is featuring guests here on my blog. Since I write horror and it is an interest and topic I have knowledge in the guests you see on here will be contributing horror pieces. My first guest to my blog is Loretta H. Campbell. Loretta is a freelance writer an English/ESL teacher from New York. With an interest in horror she wrote this piece on why is horror so popular in today's society. Her most recent short story Doughnuts can be found on Black Girl Magic Literary Magazine an online zine.

From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggedy beasties and things that go bump in the night, Good Lord deliver us! Scottish prayer

Why are we as Americans so obsessed with the things that go bump in the night such as the boogeyman? Do we really want to be delivered? Do we want to be delivered now?

The quick answer to all three questions is yes if we go by the figures given in the online zine The Numbers: Where Data and The Movie Business Meet. Horror films grossed approximately $500 million dollars in 2016. In the same source, the 2017 gross profits for horror are slightly higher already. We might assume that the revenue will double in the next six months compared to last year. It seems that we really want things to go bump in the night. The question is why?

First, we need a working definition of what we like being afraid of.. horror. The noun is an overwhelming and painful feeling caused by something frightfully shocking, terrifying, or revolting; a shuddering fear: to shrink back from a mutilated corpse in horror according to dictionary.com.

None of this sounds enjoyable. Yet, in his article Psychology of Fear: Why do we love watching horror movies? published in the online zine ZNews, Ritu Singh says it is. Singh makes nine points about the attraction of horror. Three of them in particular can be seen in any audience at any gore fest in this country.

The first is the Adrenaline rush: When we watch scary movies, we can face our fears, but since we know that it's just a movie we don't have to face anything in reality. For the time being, it tickles certain fight or flight responses.

In other words, we get a high when our endorphin’s go into overdrive while we are watching a horror movie. The euphoria happens when the horror is close enough to see, but it can’t hurt you. It’s a combination of voyeurism and vicariousness. Think of bungie jumping. A long, strong rope keeps us from any real harm even as we sail off a high bridge.

The mega buzz gives us the pleasure without the pain. The operative word here is pleasure. It’s the coping mechanism especially during stressful times.

That is another reason horror is popular, stress reduction. During national crises, Americans flock to horror movies. In the 1950s, arguably a heyday for horror flicks, many of the films Hollywood produced became classics of the genre, The Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956),

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JRVfGMjdGh8,

The Thing from Another World (1951), The Fly (1958).

At the time, the nation was stricken with an epidemic of terror. The reason for it was one man as Shaila K. Dewan outlines in her (2000) New York Times article Do Horror Films Filter the Horror of History?

The idea that horror films reflect, or even caricature, society's collective anxieties is nothing new. Invasion of the Body Snatchers'' is frequently read as a critique of McCarthy-era pod people.

Senator Joseph McCarthy introduced a home-grown trauma that afflicted the entire country and cut across all barriers of class, race, gender, education level, and politics. Using his House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), as a bullwhip, McCarthy accused hundreds of Americans of being Russian spies. Because of his basically false accusations, thousands of people lost their jobs, their families, even their lives.

In the film, aliens from outer space take over the minds and bodies of earthlings/white American humans in an attempt to annihilate the human race. Because the aliens have replicated their earthling hosts, it is virtually impossible to distinguish between the aliens and the humans. The earthlings who succumb lose everything. They die in droves.

The film was a box office marvel, grossing $1 million dollars in a month, according to wikipedia. Debate continues about whether the film is denouncing McCarthy’s despotism or the threat of invasion by our nemesis Russia.

Michael Dodd of The Missing Slate has said the movie may be the clearest window into the American psyche that horror cinema has ever provided.

That is a statement as terrifying as any American movie yet made. It also begs another question. Why do we have a dual nature when it comes to horror movies? The answer may be that while they are deeply disturbing, they are modern-day allegory. The monsters represent various aspects of our lives, our world. Unlike our real lives, the monsters are always defeated or at least contained. That victory produces something else that horror supplies hope. We feel that things will turn out right, and that is cathartic.

Should we assume that whenever, we as a nation, feel threatened we’ll turn to horror as one means of release? Maybe. I would argue that there is a parallel in the rhetoric espoused by our current president Donald S. Trump and Senator Joseph McCarthy. Both seek to destroy the other in our society. That is persons who don’t fit the mold of the heterosexual, white American male. Both have built political careers on innuendo. Both build platforms on xenophobia.

We are living in a time when, once again, our nation’s relationship to Russia is frightening. For the first time in our history, we as a people, question Russian involvement with our presidential election and our government.

There is also a kind of parallel in the kinds of horror movies that grossed big in the 1950s and now.

The movie The Purge Election Year (2016) seems to be the perfect film for a nation in which mass violence is being encouraged by the national leader.

Get Out (2017) is a movie that starts off as a film about a progressive family and reveals a kind of pathological bigotry inside an entire community. Perhaps the community is a symbol for our society.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVIqOhPqf4w

From its inception, America has represented itself as the land of the free and the home of equality. Everything looks fine until you live here. The need to pull back the curtain that too many of us like to ignore is another reason horror is so popular now. It is an ugly vehicle for an ugly truth.

Horror now, and maybe always, is a direct line to our innermost fears, the ones that we want to expel from our lives. It is one way we can collectively look at the ghoulies and ghosties and say boo right in their faces.


Making Use of Twitter Lists

Posted on August 16, 2017 at 4:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Twitter is probably the second biggest social media site behind Facebook. Either you love it or hate it, it either works for you or it doesn’t. Twitter is big on hashtags and hashtags help your tweets be seen and they help you interact with your fellow Twitter members and followers. However amongst the hashtags and the rest of twitters many helpful tools is one in particular that I know not many people take advantage of..Twitter Lists. Many times you’ll find people place you on lists, some that you totally get why because you write about that list topic while other and most times your placed on a list and have no clue why. Ignore this, ignore all this.

 

What are Twitter Lists? A twitter list is a list you can become a member of, subscribe to or create as a way to place followers in a certain niche or topic. Say your like me and you write horror and you want to have all your important horror followers in one spot where you can find them. Well you simply crate a list and then go to their profiles and add them to that list. A list is a great way to organize and follow people without actually following them. They are good for both public and private. Public lists are viewable to everyone including the people you place in them and private lists are only seen by you, meaning you have your own private lists for your own benefit.

 

Are Twitter Lists Important? Absolutely! I don’t always turn to my lists daily but the simple fact that I have them and they are there is enough. It helps me for when I do need to use them and I have an easy way to get a hold of someone or see someone’s tweets I otherwise wouldn’t see because twitter doesn’t show you everyone’s tweets. This brings me to another reason why it’s a good idea to make lists. Aside from your own organization there’s some people who you follow whose tweets you may want to see more then others. Twitter Lists help you do this. You simply place these followers who are priority to you in a list and boom, you can see their tweets at anytime you wish. Lists help you organize people into categories, help you easily keep track of certain peoples tweets and it’s a good way to create a little order.

 

Should I Follow Lists or Create Them? Both. You want to follow lists that are beneficial to you and about topics you actually care about. You also of course as stated above want to create lists for your own benefit as well. I myself have more created lists than I’m following. This isn’t because I am trying to make things easier for myself and another way to do so is by following lists that don’t have a ton of people. With your own lists you can put and keep track of your followers easy but with lists you follow you can’t which is why you should keep the lists you follow and create at a minimum.

 

What’s A Unique Way I can Utilize a Twitter List?

Well besides the reasons I mentioned above there’s a few reasons you should create lists that are unique and helpful to you. Say you have a weekly Twitter Chat that you run well you can place those chat members into a list to keep track of them or even to send a reminder to them about the chat. Say you juat a bunch of publishing companies or editors that follow you that you want to look into and possibly work with, create a list for them. I myself recently had a stream of horror people(fans of horror, fellow writers, horror podcasts, movie producers) follow me on here. Seeing that they all share horror in common and they could prove useful and beneficial to me I decided to create a list for them so now they are all in one spot and I can see what they tweet and have easy access to contact them if need be. There are lots of ways you can utilize lists and these are just a few. So before you ask yourself are lists for you, just take into consideration all I’ve said here and determine how you want to use them not if they are for you because they likely are..or at least they should be.

The $20 Guarantee

Posted on July 27, 2017 at 4:05 PM Comments comments (0)

I recently took part in a weekly twitter chat like I do every week. Someone asked a question about Facebook which is one of the few social media outlets I simply don’t put my time into( one reason is because it is a bit intimidating). They said should they be on there and how can they make their posts show up more because as you may know when you make a post on your Facebook Author Page not all of your followers see it. One thing to do is to post images as images are more likely to be seen over simple texts but another thing people will tell you and what got suggested to the person in the group who asked was to boost their posts by spending money. The host said they spent $20 on a boost of their post and saw a dramatic increase in likes and views for that post as well as in huge increase in the thousands of visitors to their site. This sounds amazing to me but..one, I’m not big on spending money to promote, I’m not big on giving Facebook my money and third I feel paying to boost a post is the last reason I’d cough up money to Facebook. Does it work though? Clearly it can but I feel it would have to be the right post and you have to have things already set in motion as well as a solid following to really get results from that paid post. This brings me to something I’m calling the $20 guarantee which is what I’d like to see but of course nothing is guaranteed.


1. Every Follower and others see my post- The one thing paying to boost a post will do is get you more views of that post. What it does is tell Facebook to ignore their algorithm and boost the post so every follower of the person sees it as well as any other person as well. While you can’t be guaranteed a specific number of how many likes and views you’ll get you can be rest assured that your post will definitely be seen by hundreds upon hundreds of people by paying to boost it.


2. Visitors to Website- If the post comes from your website or contains a link to it then naturally you want people to go there. The problem is however that people are more of an all read no click type lately. Meaning they’ll read what you have to say but they aren’t likely to click. Of course people will tell you that if the content is good enough then the people will click. True, but you want them to then do something when they get to your page which doesn’t always happen. What I’m saying here is there’s a lot of steps you have to take in making sure people go to your website but it’s not exactly a guarantee which is inevitable but unfortunate as it’s one thing you hope you could put out, have people see it and make that next action. It requires more work and the problem is you don’t even know if that hard work will pay off because if it doesn’t you slowly start eating that $20 and there’s no guarantee.

 

3. Viewer/Follower Takes Full Action- As I stated above there’s no way of knowing or making a person take full action. You have to put out solid enough of work to where you feel so confident that your not worried about if people don’t see it..It’s not that I don’t believe in my work or don’t want to take the steps to make things happen I’m just afraid it’s not as realistic and that not having the right amount of followers and Facebook the entity in itself stands in the way. Obviously you can’t be guaranteed of how things will go you can only do your best and take a chance. You have to do the work and put things in motion for people to take full action.


What am I saying? I’m saying I’m not about to put down $20 on a Facebook post unless I know I can get these three things out of it for sure. I don’t like spending money on promoting and if I do I want to know for a fact or at least be assured that what I’m investing in will pay off. I feel while Facebook is absolutely necessary it’s also intimidating and putting money toward it when you haven’t established yourself on it could prove dire. I’d rather have an idea that I will get a good amount back out of my $20 rather than feel like I’m eating it, because after all that is $20 and it could go toward a lot more other things guaranteed.

Similarities Between Weird West & Steampunk

Posted on July 4, 2017 at 11:50 PM Comments comments (0)

Weird West is a literary subgenre that combines elements of the Western with another literary genre, usually horror, occult, fantasy or science fiction.

 

Steampunk, a genre of science fiction that has a historical setting and typically features steam-powered machinery rather than advanced technology.

"if you like steampunk, this is a great book for you"

a style of design and fashion that combines historical elements with anachronistic technological features inspired by science fiction.

"the essence of steampunk is homage to vintage fashion with a modern, sassy twist"

 

Now that we have the definitions of each genre the big question is this, are weird west and steampunk similar and if so just how similar are they? Yes they do have similarities and we will go over them and see just how alike and even how unalike they are.

 

-They are both lesser known underrated sub-genres

-Both can be considered to be a form of a sub-genre of Fantasy

-They both are weird, odd and unique in their own right and share a specific quality to them

-They take place during a certain time period

-They both introduce and contain the use of magical technology such as weaponry, forms of transportation and machinery

-Both tend to be associated with and combine Historical Fiction either using real people or places

-At times both create various situations involving the use of time travel

-Both tend to at times be set in their own utopia or interesting world

 

So in many ways Weird West and Steampunk are similar and sometimes tend to draw in the same audience. They are both unique genres that really capture the essence of creativity, magic and technology. They, like other small sub-genres tend to go unnoticed or underrated however over the last few years the popularity in each of them.

 

Here are some popular authors of each genre:

 

Weird West-

-Mike Resnick

-Joe R. Landsdale

-Jonathan Maberry

-Tim Curran

-Eric S. Brown

-Steampunk

 

-Michael Coorlim

-Scott Westerfield

-Gail Carriger

-Cassandra Clare

Paul Di Filippo

 

Have Zombies Saturated the Market?

Posted on July 4, 2017 at 10:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Zombies, Zombies and Zombies. Everywhere you look there they are. It seems like no matter where you look there’s a new book, show or movie coming out with them. It can easily be said that zombies are hot and they are the thing right now..but is that a good thing? Yes zombies are popular, some of us can’t get enough and the market for cashing in on zombies is a smart idea..but isn’t it enough? In some ways zombies have completely saturated the horror market. They are still entertaining but it seems a solid storyline involving them can no longer be zone. They’ve become a cliche and to me it just seems that there’s not much that can be done with zombies that hasn’t already been done. It can however also be said that like most things this is just a phase and soon it will die down so why it’s hot and the genre to be in perhaps an author should consider getting in on the zombie craze.

 

The Walking Dead has become a worldwide phenomenon. People are watching it, recording it or when they aren’t watching it they are talking about it. Want to tell someone about something that happened in the latest episode they haven’t seen yet? Nope, no spoilers your going to have to wait till they see it. The Walking Dead is probably the biggest zombie hit to come around in a long time. It’s got drama, action, gore, suspense and of course plenty of zombies. It has everything a good horror fan can enjoy. So because a show like the Walking Dead is big what do you suppose other people want to do? They want in too. They see the popularity of the show and think well if they can make zombies popular then maybe people will love their book or show about zombies too. We see this constantly but the problem is like all things they are seen everywhere and an idea too overdone saturates the market. It becomes a bit dull, we grow tired of seeing it and most of all while some maybe be able to capitalize on it while it’s hot like most things it won’t last even if it’s quality content. A good horror fan or fan of anything however never grows tired of something so maybe it’s not so much a bad idea for an overdone idea but then again maybe it is.

 

Have Zombies saturated the horror market? I say yes. They’ve put a bit of a damper on how much of a certain topic and how much we can tolerate it. If we can accept this zombie craze and let it be then perhaps there’s nothing to worry about but if it becomes even more crazy and out of control then perhaps something will need to be done but I’m guessing it will likely stop. The bigger question is why is it that zombies are so hot right now? Why is the Walking Dead so huge right now? Well some of us have become a bit too into the whole zombie apocalypse becoming a real thing. Since that will likely not happen anytime soon or never people have decided to do the next best thing, get lost in the fictional world of zombies. They have looked into and eat up all the written zombie fiction they can and watch all the zombie movies and shows they can so they can dream about what they might one day wish they could do during a real zombie apocalypse. Is that so wrong? No and it’s only a theory but it’s a good one at that. People who wish for such an odd idea do the next best thing and because of it zombies have become big and those who write and produce them are hitting it big right now. Zombies maybe saturating the market but right now they are having the last laugh.

Horror: Where Do You Draw the Line?

Posted on July 4, 2017 at 4:10 PM Comments comments (0)

When it comes to horror whether reading or watching we tend to love all of it. We can't get enough and we find ourselves looking for and wanting more. to get as scared or as grossed out as possible.

 

But as writers it may be a bit different. You can read and watch it but can you create it? When it comes to writing horror where do you draw the line? Do you even have a line? Is there a certain topic or idea in horror that you simply won't go near? I know there are many controversial topics or simply just thing we don't feel comfortable in writing. Personally I haven't really drawn a line as to how dark and disturbing I'd go when writing horror but only because I'm comfortable in writing where I'm at. However despite not having drawn a line that isn’t to say I don’t have one because like everyone I do. Before I tell you where I draw the line let’s first explain why we all have a stop point when it comes to horror. First note that not everyone does, some can read or write it with no issue or stopping point whatsoever. These are what we call true no filter horror fans and god bless them for being so. Why do some of us draw the line and stop at a certain point when it comes to horror? It’s simple, we feel. We have emotions and we are human and sometimes we can only take so much. I will explain where I and where most likely draw the line when it comes to the horror genre.

 

Extreme violence can sometimes be too much and just too overwhelming for some of us and rightfully so. It’s not everyday that we see such intense scenes and situations and not everyone has the stomach for it. Violence in itself is unnecessary so when we see an abundant amount of it in extreme doses we tend to try and look away and not be any part of it. While I will write about extreme horror it depends on the nature to which I will read and write. Rape is a topic that most tend to stay far far away from when it comes to writing and I myself am the same way. It’s just one of those topics where even if you write it to the best of your ability there will be someone to be critical of it and again rightfully so. This is why I and most like me tend to stay away from it. Is there a place for it in literature? Eh, that remains to be seen. The killing of children and animals is another topic that’s just too much. I feel like you have to be a really dark person but also someone who can truly write if your going to take on this or any of the other topics. No one likes to hear about dead children or animals being slaughtered so it doesn’t need to be said that if people don’t like reading about it then it’s just as hard to write it as well. I could list a few more but I think you get the idea.

 

So where do you pump the breaks when it comes to horror? Is it one of the topics I listed in the previous paragraph? Perhaps you have another? Either way it’s not wrong and doesn’t make you weak or strict it makes you human. There’s just certain topics we can only take so much of or topics we simply can’t take hearing or reading about at all. The idea is to stay with what we know we can take, know our limits and be comfortable reading what we enjoy. It’s also worth noting that those who so have the stomachs for it and can write it or a lot more prone to enjoying horror then we are. This doesn’t make us weak and doesn’t make them weird it’s just that we are all different and have different views and can write in a certain way.

Exclusive to Amazon or Others?

Posted on July 4, 2017 at 2:50 PM Comments comments (0)

It’s the question you ask yourself and have to make a decision on after you’ve finished your latest work. Where do I want to publish my novel? If you’re an indie author your have a few choices but then it comes down your e-book. Amazon seems like the no-brainer and logical choice but does it have to be? Sure it’s the practical choice but nothing says an author has to be exclusive to just Amazon. As you may already know when your choose Amazon for your e-book rights through KDP Select you can only have your book there any nowhere else. Why is this? Besides the obvious reason that Amazon wants you all to themselves, Amazon wants to be the only place you get your sales and it’s only fitting seeing as their quite popular. By going with Amazon the decision becomes a simple one as there’s no fighting over where to go or what to pick. Your giving Amazon your rights and your not even thinking about other places to distribute your book. Amazon should be your #1 source of getting sales but does it truly have to be? What about the other places in which you can place the rights of your book? The “other” places aren’t so bad in fact they should be given some considerable thought before you decide to just hand over your e-book rights to Amazon.

One reason you may want to consider other places for the rights to your e-book is your book will be in many places not just Amazon and placs that Amazon does not give you. Sure with Amazon your also given the ole Barnes & Noble deal as well but only after a certain amount of time and even then, we all want our paperbacks in B&N stores not just online on their sites. By choosing other sites to market your e-book your letting your book go to places you can’t get anywhere else. Places like Kobo, Google Play, Apple, etc. You can get your books on many sites by going with places such as Draft2Digital or Smashwords. By choosing these places they distribute your book to all the other sites plus many more above.

With so many places to have your book the big question is why would anyone choose just Amazon? Well let me answer this in two ways. Would you fight one horse sized duck or 100 duck sized horses? I know it’s such a cliche but look at it like this: Amazon is the giant sized duck and the other places are the 100 duck sized horses. Some may see that Amazon(the horse sized duck) as the obvious choice whereas other may see other sites(the 100 duck sized horses) as the clear choice, it really depends on the person. The other analogy I’ll use is quality over quantity..in a sense. Let’s say Amazon is the Quality, their well known, it’s a quick and easy process and you know your book is in good hands. On the other end however you have quantity, your book gets distributed to several different sites spreading the wealth that is your book to more sites and can be seen by a lot more people. So which should you choose? Again that is your decision and it depends on the person.

I won’t make the decision for you as its only one you can make for yourself but I’ll give you my personal idea and perhaps you’ll consider it. If you have more than one book or book series perhaps you should test both waters. Have one of your books series exclusive to Amazon and then make another sole book of yours through other channels. Test them out and see how they do and if one is doing better than the other then maybe it’ll make you decide to bring all your books to one channel. It seems like an easy thing to do but then again not everyone is about variety and everyone has different opinions and ideas. I have five books and four of them are exclusive to Amazon and only one is not. The book that’s not exclusive to Amazon I haven’t seen a single sale from any other channel however in my own defense I haven’t really pushed the envelope and tried to market to those channels either. Perhaps the time is now. So is Amazon the place to be? Should you be on several other channels? Decide for yourself but remember no matter what road you go down and what option you choose, it’s not wrong but right for you.

The Importance of Naming A Character

Posted on July 3, 2017 at 3:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Harry Potter, Sebastian Grey, Katniss Everdeen, Holden Caufield. We know them well as they are some of literatures most popular characters. Their names resonate with us the minute we hear them. We know immediate what book they are in and even if we haven’t read a single book their in we likely know a little bit of who they are. Why is this? Well aside from the obvious of some names being the associated with the title of the book, names are everything when it comes to characters. In order for a novel to stand out it needs a strong main character who will take on a challenge or adventure or connect and seem real to a reader. One way this can be done is by giving that character a name, a name that will not only represent what that character stands for but will stand out among the rest. How important is it to give your character a fitting name? It’s necessary and essential to your stories very existence. Sure you can name your characters John Smith, Emily Jones or James King but your not giving them identity, your not giving them a name that will stand out among the top names listed in the beginning. A character name needs to stand out, when you read it you immediately know who they are or when you see their name it gives you a sense of intrigue and makes you want to read and know more about them. How important is the naming of a character? More important then you would think.


 

Harry Potter. If you really think about it the name seems rather generic if you take out the fame that now comes with it. Before Harry potter was written the name could have easily gone unnoticed as seen as a common one. However now anytime we see the name Harry Potter we immediately associate it with the book series of a boy wizard. So while this shows that it is possible to take a generic name and turn it into a popular one it’s still better to give your character a unique name that stands out above the rest so people can easily know what they are from. The other names listed above are all unique and catch your eye. While Harry Potter and Sebastian Gray are names a real person could have how many people have you met that have the names of Katniss Everdeen or Holden Caufield? Probably none and if you have they are likely named after the characters. Many writers would not think to give any deep thought when it comes to naming a character. They think that the setting, plot and character details are important and a name is just a name. Yes perhaps that’s true but you need to give that setting, plot and character detail substance and that starts with what you think is the easiest thing of all..naming your character. A writer can pick a common name and still make that character stand out but if a writer really wants to get people to read their book or even just be original they need to think deep about what name they want to represent their book and their character.


 

A little bit of research is necessary in the naming of a character as well. If you book is set in China and your character is from there then naturally your going to give your character a Chinese name. If your character is from another country then you want to give them a name that originates from that country. If you really want to get into detailing and representing what your character is about you could even look up the meaning of a name and give the character that name so they live by the very name they were given. Origin, originality and a strong powerful visual of the name can really make your character seem very real. How can you come up with a great sounding name for your character? Look up names alphabetically, look up baby names, look up names from a certain country, ask people, watch movies. You can get names from so many sources its about choosing the right one that may be a difficult task but when you find the right one you’ll know. So remember the next time you need to decide and come up with a name for a character to sit down and give it some thought. Don’t use John Smith, Joe Schmo or Jane Doe, be original, be unique and give your character a name that not only represents your book but you can be proud to say you came up with your made your own.

 

Are Videos A Good Marketing Tool?

Posted on June 12, 2017 at 3:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Videos. We all watch them and we all enjoy them. Whether it’s for entertainment value or to gain information and knowledge. Many make videos in order to demonstrate a feat or to teach others their knowledge on a topic. For authors this is no different but are videos a good marketing tool for them? I’ve come across several articles and heard from many people that as an author you should be making videos. Whether it’s a small video or a long one you should be getting out there and recording video of yourself or something in order to gain a following and provide entertainment and info for people to let them become interested in you and your work. You know those articles and people I mentioned? Yes they’re in the book marketing industry meaning they mainly want to help and they write non-fiction. So it’s easy for them to make videos as they have plenty to provide but if you’re a fiction author is making a series of videos a good tool? Don’t get me wrong I’ve seen lists of things fiction authors can do to provide valuable content to their videos in order to gain followers and reach their audience but the big question here is, is it a practical tool for a fiction author to do?


Video marketing is no doubt huge right now. Some of us have the attention span of fish and it’s why they say we need to get in on the video trend now. We need to be able to entertain or educate when doing videos or otherwise we risk the viewer tuning out and looking into something else. A video shows people that you are for one real and seeing you let’s them know whose behind the content and why they should care. A video in the sense of marketing for an author is to let people know you value and care about what you do and you wish to get your point across and what better way then to showcase yourself or your words or a slideshow? I personally feel as though it’s easier for non-fiction authors to provide solid video content because they are likely being shown talking about and teaching information that people can use and apply to help them. Fiction authors on the other hand have to be more creative and really think about what they want to put in their videos. As you may be able to tell from this I don’t do video outside of book trailers. Should I? I want to know what I could record video doing and I want to know if it would be worth it. Seeing as it’s the thing to do right now I say it’s worth taking a shot but from an overall standpoint I ask whether it’s truly worth doing and if it’s for everyone.


So are videos a good marketing tool? While I am asking I am leaning toward yes but also that they aren’t for everyone. I say they should be made by both non-fiction and fiction writers but again they aren’t for everyone but should at least be tested to see if they work for that individual. A video should be like a book in the sense of what I stated earlier, it needs to either entertain or educate or both. Remember Vine? Vine lives on in memory and in irony in the sense that you took quick videos and now it’s as gone as quick as it’s purpose. Vine may have been small quick videos but the idea behind it was simple, if you can get people’s attention in a short amount of time then your doing something right. Is video right for you? I have been asking myself this for some time and the more I hear I should be doing it the more I feel I should at least give it a shot. The plan of action should be to at least try it if you aren’t doing it already and have a goal and idea in mind before hand. Is video a good marketing tool? All signs point to yes but I say the verdict is still out as to whether or not it’s a proven asset for everyone.

My Writing Inspirations

Posted on June 12, 2017 at 3:35 PM Comments comments (0)

My Writing Influences/Inspirations

 

One question I get as a writer is who are your writing influences? Who inspires you? I’m sure you get asked the same thing. The response should come out of you as quick as it was asked because let’s be honest here, we’ve had plenty of time to think of this question. These are people who are the reason to why we write, what got us started on this path and made such an impact on us that we thought, you know what? I want to become a writer and author. So who are my writing inspirations? Well as you know I am both a writer and poet so I have quite a mixed bunch of writers but here are some of my influences and inspirations.

 

Edgar Allan Poe-

This should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me. Whether you’ve read my Macabre Masterpiece books or just read a horror story by me you can clearly see the evidence of Poe. Like most people I read The Raven, The Tell-Tale Heart and many more of Poe’s work in school the only difference is I kept reading long after I got out of school. I already liked horror and I felt Poe’s words were creepy and morbid yet chilling, true and captivating and it’s this very thing to which has inspired two books and my love for horror. Aside from writing two books of horror poetry I have also written stories with an essence similar to Poe’s and I’ve even paid homage to him in a blog post. In many ways Poe is a great part of my writing life and like many of us who enjoy him I’m sure it will continue on for as long as I write.

 

Rod Serling-

This one may be a surprise. Rod Serling is mostly known for “The Twilight Zone” and “Night Gallery”. What people may not know is that he wrote many stories to which became episodes for the shows. I absolutely love The Twilight Zone so naturally Rod Serling’s adaptations and writings really resonate with me. While I mainly just watch The Twilight Zone I have read one of his books and found the tales to be just as odd as an episode of TZ. If you’ve read any of my work you tend to get a sense of weird plots, twist endings or things that just aren’t normal. Well this is because of my admiration for Rod Serling and The Twilight Zone. The man was ahead of his time and I’m just one of many people he’s influenced but nevertheless I am grateful that someone like him has such a creative mind because it’s helped in the creation of mine.

 

William Shakespeare-

Seriously Justin? Yes, seriously. Most people find Shakespeare boring or confusing and I would totally agree with you..but that also didn’t stop me from enjoying his work and being inspired by him. One reason I consider Shakespeare an influence and inspiration is because of the fact that he pretty much created his own language and his simplicity to truly make a drama a drama as well as his way to write a poem. The way he wrote and how he wrote are confusing but the fact that there’s meanings hidden behind his words is what gets me. I like being able to write something and the person has to read it a few times to understand, I like doing that and it’s because of Shakespeare. I find his sonnet’s brilliant and some of his plays tolerable especially Macbeth so yes Shakespeare is an inspiration of mine.

 

Elmore Leonard-

You may not recognize his name but you’ve probably seen some of his work. Get Shorty, Jackie Brown, Out of Sight, Hombre, 3:10 to Yuma, The Big Bounce, etc. He also wrote the tv series Justified on FX. I started reading Leonard after I began watching Justified. After I read one of his books I was hooked. I enjoy the way he tells a story whether it’s crime or a western. He really creates a visual of the scene in a book and the characters are likable and that really spoke to me. After reading a few of his works and watching a few movies I was inspired by him. I tend to keep reading more of his books to become more inspired by him.

 

Robert Frost-

Frost is an inspiration because of the beautiful way to which he wrote poetry. Also I find “The Road Not Taken” to be a great metaphor for life that I find myself using frequently in my own life choices. I haven’t quite read as much Frost but I’ve read enough to be inspired and influenced by him.

 

Emily Dickinson-

I’m not sure if this is surprising or an of course you are because every poet is somehow inspired by her. I am inspired by Emily Dickinson for the somber way in which she told a poem. Her sadness spoke volumes and sometimes when I’m sad I find myself channeling my inner Emily trying to find the words to express how I feel.

 

Langston Hughes-

This one probably surprises people. Hughes has a few poems that are quite short but the meaning and feeling behind them are so strong and powerful that one can’t help but feel inspired. I like Hughes for his realness, his ability to capture your attention in such quick simplicity. He is an underrated inspiration of mine.

 

R.L Stine-

Like most kids during the 90's I grew up reading Goosebump books. I didn’t read much but when I did I collected and read the Goosebumps series. Stine wrote for children and teens so I feel when it comes to dimmed down horror I take my inspirations from him. Also some of his ideas are pretty creative.

 

Building An E-mail List/Landing Page

Posted on June 5, 2017 at 5:35 PM Comments comments (0)

One thing I have been hearing since I first became an author was how you should “Build an E-mail list” or “Build an Author Platform”. At first I didn’t really understand it and then after I found out more about it I felt it didn’t apply to me or that I couldn’t do it. For a while I kept coming across the idea and seeing others talk about it and insist it’s importance while I continued to brush it off. Recently I have found out even more about building an e-mail list such as how it works, what a person needs and how they can build and gain followers. There are several things I have come to realize that all authors need in order to build an e-mail list. I’m sure everyone knows of these or at least has a general idea of them but I would still like to go over them as I would like to share my findings and thoughts about them.

 


I realized is that building an e-mail list requires you to use an exterior mass e-mail site or app such as MailChimp. Call me crazy but I was always under the assumption that you could use your regular e-mail and that made me think it was time consuming and even an out of date practice. I guess we all have silly thoughts when we don’t know the first thing about something and don’t do our research. I have come to realize now that sites like MailChimp help with the e-mail list process and allow a person to message their followers and subscribers all at once. I decided to go with MailChimp because it’s the one site I’ve heard about most often and most recent so bare with me if you use another similar site. I have started using it for a second time(first time I was not ready and didn’t have anything planned out) and it’s been a bit of a stressful headache. It took me a while to get used to but I was able to create a profile and upload some members from my website along with others who have given me their e-mail because they requested I add them when I get a list started.

 


A landing page. For the longest time I didn’t know what a landing page was. Sure I had seen them countless times on websites but never gave a thought as to what they were, how they worked or that they had their own name. A Landing page is a page on your site or a page that pops up when you click a link. It’s purpose is to get people to join your e-mail list and of course you should give something in exchange for their e-mail such as a free book or access to something. When I typed in “What is a landing page?” It gave me a page that lists sites that allow you to create one, I went with the first one, Instapage. I had no problem making a landing page after I figured out how everything worked of course. My issues were well. hopefully questions everyone else has had. Where do I put my landing page? How do I set it up to connect people to my e-mail list? Where and how do I promote a landing page? Luckily MailChimp allowed me to sync my list and account to Instapage so anytime someone becomes a follower it adds them. I still have a bit of learning to do but I sent out my first mass e-mail to my followers and so far so good.

 


Another thing I have realized is that while building an e-mail list sounds intimidating, seems challenging and time consuming you have to at least try to build one because you need people who enjoy what you have to say, what your write and the work you put out. It’s hard enough putting out a work to everyone and then trying to promote and market it. A list of followers that you can e-mail allows you to have just that, a following. If these people are into your work then they are the first people you tell, they are the ones who will be interested and maybe even help spread the word about you and your work and build your list. I recently watched a webinar where this author went from having no sales and no followers to over 30,000 followers and an annual income so high that he was able to quit his day job. Now I’m not saying that this will happen for everyone but it should at least serve as a goal, as something to look at and make you realize that building an e-mail list not only works but isn’t all that bad if you really try and apply yourself. So why am I sharing all this with you? Because I want you to know that I’m trying it out, I am finally going to try and build an e-mail list, author platform or whatever you’d like to call it. I’m ready to try to expand my reach and hopefully gain a solid following and one thing I would love to hear is your thoughts and your experiences on the matter. God knows I’ve seen enough people talk about it already but now my eyes are wide open and I’m ready to try this out and I’d love to hear how building an e-mail list has worked for you or maybe how it hasn’t whatever your thoughts and experiences are I’d like to hear them.

 

 


So it’s been two years since I wrote this post so I thought I’d give an update on how it’s gone for me. Started off I only had about 20 subscribers and I didn’t really interact with them. A while back I gained over 400 new subscribers as part of an event I took part in on Facebook. It’s a bit unconventional but at the same time is totally legit. Those who were not interested quietly and quickly unsubscribed and I ended up with around 417. I set up my five e-mails to which all new subscribers receive upon signing up. They got them within a few days and over a week. I even sent them my first book free as well as create a book just for any new subscriber. My results? Well here’s the downside to my new subscribers. Since gaining them I have seen no new reviews on my book and have not had anyone write me back their thoughts on questions I’ve asked them. I have seen a spike in members for a group they can join but it’s been quiet for the most part. However, I also realize that I need to keep up my list and keep writing them to let them be a part of something and give them value. If you don’t interact with them and keep them updated you’ll never see the results you want.

 


Finally, for those who have a mailing list exactly how many e-mails/newsletters should you send out? You don’t want to come off as a spammer and if your not always busy some e-mails may be forced. You want to set up a series of e-mails your subscribers will automatically receive upon signing up. You can spread them out to when they will send, every couple days or a week are usually recommended. After that It’s good to touch base with them upon your choosing. I would suggest once or twice a month so they are updated but your also not bombarding them with e-mails. Since I wrote this e-mail I have since started using Mailerlite, a site that allows free e-mail automation unlike Mailchimp to which you have to pay. Below are my e-mail lists, one for my crime thriller fans and the other for my horror and horror poetry fans.

 

Horror:

 

http://www.subscribepage.com/HorrorPoems

 

Crime Thriller:

 

http://ThePlasmaticWriter.instapage.com

 



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