Tag Archives: twitter

Confessions Of A Lazy Blogger

19 Oct

OK so this image is stolen but if you click it you will be taken to the original site - I'm not all bad!


If you are a regular reader of this blog, you will be aware that my posts are pretty random. Not just the frequency of posting, but the length, pace, and most importantly the topics I discuss.

Now if you are a new reader, in the last few weeks or so, you may disagree. This blog is about A Cuppa and An Armchair with a rough opinion of this weeks reading thrown in every friday…

Ha ha ha, how I have lulled you into a false sense of security.

You see, lets just rewind 7/8 months, and this blog was about self-publishing – over a year ago it was writing tips. And in-between? Well it has been a variety of topics that have taken my fancy.

So why am I lazy?

It is not just about what you see on the page, it’s about interaction, planning…thinking outside the box.

Lets start with that weekly reading. I never write my opinions when I finish the book. I tend to save them up and then write a bulk load. The current ones you receive each friday are from my pile of ‘reviews’ (and I do use that term oh so lightly) that I wrote about seven weeks ago. I think I have enough done to last until Christmas. As for books that I have read since, they are all piled next to bed waiting for me to have the ‘oomph’ to sit down for a mega writing section.

I’m not lazy in that I haven’t got this sections content, just that if I pulled my finger out and wrote about each book as soon as I had read the last page, a) it would be written oh so much better b) I wouldn’t have that great big stack of books and c) I might disregard those books that don’t really call for a mention.

Important MEGA CHEAT for seeing your daily stats rise. Each time I post a review and link back, I notice how much traffic the author’s name and book title bring to my site. I am cheating my figures. I am a happy daily counter, not the monthlies, or the returnees. Oops!

But I do have subscribers..

I know each of my subscribers. I say I know, I know what they are writing about, if they are writing, and many of them I engage with happily. I love knowing that they are by my side, the frequency with which they comment, the quick emails/tweets to check all is ok if the blog has gone quiet.

But…I am not very good at this. Oh I do for some, I notice they are missing before they have even had chance to themselves, but others… (I am pulling that eek face!) It’s not that I don’t care, I am the same in my ‘real’ life. (That would be the life that makes me a lazy blogger) Just to give an example about how bad I am, a friend of mine had an op on Monday and I still haven’t called or msg to see if all is OK. I know, it doesn’t get much worse than that!

But how do I get those subscribers, where are my readers coming from?

This is the point where I want to ‘ROFL’ Seriously. I should be saying, ‘On a daily basis I will read freshly pressed and other great blog finding sites and find bloggers that interest me, that I find their content engaging, and I strike up conversations with them. I enjoy regular interaction and if this is not reciprocated, this is just fine. I regularly join in group discussions on Twitter, and I have a list of fB pages that I follow. I share the great content that I find and hope that everyone else finds it as interesting as I do. I see myself as a provider of information…..’

Are you yawning too?

I sign up to problogger and receive regular emails about how to improve your blogging, how to get the most out of it…The best advice I have seen to date, is do what feels write for you. Yes you have to consider your audience, but if it doesn’t work for you, it wont work fo them.


Don’t get me wrong, this does not give me license to not engage with other blogs but it does take the pressure off somewhat. I read my subscribers blogs (and others I subscribed to but is not reciprocated – which I am FINE with) and at this time, this is enough…

No, who am I kidding?

My point is my workload, as it would seem everyone elses workload, at this point is so great, we haven’t got the time, let alone the energy to keep up with the rules and regulations of being a successful blogger. Lets face it, even if we did, isnt blogging a bit about breaking the rules? I have regulations I have to adhere to at work, I don’t want them when I am supposedly doing something for leisure.

Does this make me lazy?

Possibly not. Let’s add a few more naughty bits and then we shall decide…

* Images – I don’t always use them and when I do you can guarantee I have used google images

* Spell check – OK I do use this but I tend to ignore passive language because this is something I am not sure I fully understand (langauge specialist please tell!)

* Leaving your work to breathe – Doing what? I have written a post I want it published NOW. It is part of the fun. Writing in advance and allowing them time to mature just doesn’t work for me. When it comes to blogging, I am after instant gratification….oh I am such a kid!

* Creating a blogging schedule – Urgh! As above!

There is one other really bad thing I do when all else fails…I write a post like this!

On a positive I have one thing I am really proud of. 95% of the time I respond to my comments with a ‘real’ reply. Not just a ‘thanks for commenting’. Urgh, when I get that I feel like I have been slapped in the face, like a ‘oh I am far too busy to deal with you but the rules say to keep my billions and trillions of fans happy I should…’

I guess I have never had too many to respond to for my comments to mean anything more than, ‘oh my goodness, they wanted to comment, they must have liked it yay!’

So what about you? Have you anything that you do/or don’t that breaks the rules? Maybe you thought something wasn’t worth doing and then once you implemented it you just couldn’t understand why you hadn’t done it sooner?

Share your thoughts. Tell your tales. Join the conversation.

Self – promotion. Are we allowed to sleep?

10 Oct

Today is the final submission day for a Cuppa and An Armchair. I am sure you are all aware of this as many of you have already sent me your shorts.

So far this project has been a real learning experience. You would think, having done a book before it wouldn’t be anything new, but you would be very wrong.

A Simple Guide was a massive flop. One simple reason, I didn’t follow my advice. That book focused on how to do it all, but I wrote it without having experienced it, I had just completed months of research. Now, I will say, my learning was very thorough. I have applied everything I learnt during those months of research, and the bits I have picked up on since, to promoting the submission process of A Cuppa and An Armchair.

What I suspected, but didn’t really understand, was the hard work that promotion involved. I have spent on average two hours every evening trying to get the word out for the project. I have hopped online at every given opportunity throughout the day also. This would have been easier for FB status update and tweets had my Blackberry lasted a bit longer. Since being dropped, I think it had survived longer than could be reasonably expected. All the same…

So what is this promotion?

Well obviously there has been this blog. I have been very wary about just writing project related posts but I am not convinced I have provided enough variation. My main consideration was about not wanting to annoy my regular readers. There is something known as too much promotion. Personally it drives me mad when I am reading other writers blogs and it is all about their current WIP. Don’t get me wrong, this is fine if that is all your blog has ever been. What I’m saying is I don’t want my blog to be about one thing only. That is not where I am at the moment and I don’t want to lose readers because they may think I am.

Sticking with the blog I have tried to spend time reading new blogs, commenting, trying to spread the word. I haven’t been as successful as I would have liked, mainly because I haven’t done it anywhere near enough. promotion scares me, I don’t want to be a spammer…

On Twitter I have become a spammer lol! This was most obvious the day I discovered the problem with the email. Ahem, the day Charlotte told me about the problem. I just had to get the message out there. The only way I could do this was to keep posting the same thing over and to ask for others to retweet. Other than that I sent DMs to many tweeters, and attempted to join in with the conversations. Twitter is definitely my weak point, I’m not sure I fully understand it. Either way I gave it a good go and I am pleased with my progress.

Now Facebook i dreaded. How many times have you been told that Facebook is not the place to promote? Well, sure, the amount of effort I put in, hunting down writers, being inventive with updates and such, may not have been reflected in the ‘likes’, however, we have still managed to get up to 61 likes as of this evening. Bearing in mind A Simple Guide sits at 57, I am certainly not complaining. Now I know many writers have a higher following on Facebook, but I have been at this for a little over a month. We haven’t even put the book together. If the page grows at this rate, by the time the book is released, I shall be ecstatic.

I have dabbled at Google+, thought about LinkedIn and many others, but I decided to concentrate on my three main areas. I am glad I made this decision. I think I would have spread myself too thin otherwise.

So I guess I should get cracking with organising the shorts for the panel to read, plus a little last-minute tweeting and FB updating. I am hoping to take a week off from here, just to re group, and consider the next stages in full before we jump straight in. After all, not only have we had the problem with the email, the submission date has got somewhat muddled also, whoops! It will never run smoothly when you are doing all the running, but I guess a few rocks keep you on your toes. I am just very grateful that I have my Simple Guide knowledge to help steer me through this process.

As always big thank you to all of you who have shown your support, submitted, or just wished us luck.

Spam and self promotion – the missing link.

20 Sep

Now I am fully aware that spam is a frequent topic of conversation on blogs. Indeed, even on Twitter, the conversation comes up about what is received via DM.

I have often sat reading these thoughts wondering what did it matter, what harm does it do? After all, DM messages on Twitter are private, as for the blog, Akismet does a pretty good job – in fact, I have only ever had one spam comment break through the site.

My thoughts are still the same.

But, and I find this quite intriguing, in the space of five hours today I received 17 spam comments. Seventeen! I mean seriously, why do these people persist?

The message is generally unrelated, so you wouldn’t follow the link, and as for the spelling…

I am guessing as a whole my attitude is quite relaxed because I don’t have a mass following, I don’t post my URL here there and everywhere, and therefore, my traffic is relatively low. To know someone has popped by even if it is an automated computer generating utter drivel still pleases me. Small victories and all.

The low traffic is a large problem however, and it is something I need to work on. Obviously now I am back up and posting my traffic naturally increases, and the subscribers increase.I am once again using twitter, but it’s really not me. I know what you have to do, but I guess it just doesn’t sit right for me. I can’t really explain it. I guess my main issue is time management. At best of an evening I can commit two hours to the computer. I say at best, once the kids are in bed and I have run around I have two hours left before I head to bed. Hubby doesn’t mind, more often than not he is blogging also, but for both of us there is the guilt.

But lets say I do spend two hours an evening online. Check the blog, write a post, check FB, send some tweets, consider logging onto Google +…my two hours are pretty used up. Obviously in that I am reading blogs and commenting. I never quite manage to indulge with real interaction through twitter. A lot of this has to do with organisational skills, creating my lists etc.

Twitter is basically a no go for me I think is what I am saying.

So I now have two pages on Facebook as well. Lets be honest, the A Simple Guide to Self Publishing page has never been managed properly. Many authors do this so well, but quite frankly, I am rubbish. We have just set up the page for A Cuppa and an Armchair. As there are two admins on this the onus isn’t on me, but I already feel the pressure. How do I get the followers? how can I get the interaction? How do I get people to understand you like the page not the link? (or maybe they know…) More importantly with this particular site, how do I get people who don’t know me, or the charity, to give either their writing or their time?

So all in all, spam is not really a worry of mine. I just find it a little intriguing. Maybe it is my attitude towards spam, why bother, everyone knows it’s a scam attitude transfers to my promotional side (though mine isn’t a scam, let’s make that clear now).

Anyway, any suggestions on how to find a more positive approach to promotion would be greatly received. (And yes, this is coming from the author a simple guide to self publishing. I know I know, I guess I am after a little more personal advice, what you did/are doing, what definitely didn’t work).

If you have a short story that you would like to submit to A Cuppa and an Armchair, please email chat@elenaransley.com.

Can You Be Successful Working On 60%?

14 Aug

As writers, can we have full on, ‘I am fed up with this, and don’t think I can be bothered anymore,’ syndrome? If we can, does it pass? Or does this mean we really are finished?

I guess the answer lies in our long-term dreams. Our personal determination, the drive to beat the hurdles that lay in our path.

I always relate writing to any other area in your life. If you do not want something enough, it just won’t happen. Sure, there are plenty of people out there that you can say ‘got lucky’. Many of those will agree with you, however, luck, or hard work are the same thing. You work hard to create your own luck.

I was discussing with someone the other day where they saw their life going – jobs, family etc. Having known this person for a long time, I was quite comfortable in telling them that the reason everything they ever tried failed (I didn’t use that term but I am simplifying for the sake of this post), was that they only ever put in 60%. Everytime a hurdle came up, or the effort involved something they didn’t like, they gave up. The truth is, this person only feels that for it to be worth working for, they have to enjoy every moment.

Don’t get me wrong, to do something you love is the greatest gift, but, and this is the big but, to survive in this world you have to be making money from your love. How much are you going to keep loving it if you do it full-time yet can’t pay the bills? The way I see it, no matter what you do, where your passion lies, if another area of your life goes on unfulfilled, it will eat away at you, and all the positives that you gain from one area slowly get sucked into a void.

It is this very reason that most people are unable to sustain a full-time career in a creative way. Most writers work full-time in a dreaded day job, their dream of a publishing deal only unleashed of an evening. I know of artists in a similar situation. It is not uncommon, and most of us accept it is the nature of our choice. It is not any different to those who love cricket, and play at weekends and occasional evenings. We can not all be professional, and until we are (hope must always remain) we can only ever treat it as a hobby.

But what of this ‘can’t be bothered anymore’ attitude? We all hit highs and lows. Indeed, reading writers blogs of recent weeks, many of us seem to be lacking the drive we need to stay focused on the end goal. Few however, like me, have reached rock bottom, wondering whats the point?

Some of you may have read last weeks post, since then, I have learnt that my hard drive is corrupt, the work lost forever. I have managed to retrieve from Gav the first seven chapters, thirteen however must be re written. I have notes. I have sections that needed re writing. I knew it was only a first draft. Getting the words down on the page, as they flowed draft. However, I know, as many writers do, that sometimes the words and emotions in that first draft will remain to the end. The rawness of the writing conveying so much more than carefully deliberated sentence structures that we all succumb to. Sometimes, we put ourselves in a mindset that can at times be painful, just to make sure the message is true. I am not sure I can go through that again for this piece.

I am not counting the hours of lost work. That doesn’t really mean much, but that emotion…

The thing is losing my work has killed that WIP. I won’t be returning to it. It has also killed my motivation to blog, tweet, well anything writing related. I am even blocking out ideas for my next project. It’s like I am deliberately telling it all to go away. I don’t want to know. Don’t knock at my door. Where writing is concerned, I would say my effort is at 2%

Now it maybe that I start a new job this week so I am preoccupied. It is a convenient excuse, but the truth is, as anyone who reads my blog regularly will have realised, I have been seriously lacking heart for some time. I have decided, it is time to give up. Well for now anyway. I am pretty certain that every time I berate myself for not writing, I knock myself a little more. Not to mention my falling twitter stats. Maybe social media got too much? I wont be participating on twitter for a while. I also won’t plan to blog too regularly, if I get one out a week it will have to do. You see, I do want to write, I want to be published, but the networking, writing, scenario has got a little too much recently. I can’t keep up. I don’t want to. I just want to write when I have time, when the inspiration comes – when it is my choice.

It is hard work moving forward with our dreams, but it is up to us to set the schedule. It is also up to us to accept the responsibility when the dreams remain unfulfilled. If you only run at 60% that is fine, just don’t blame others when it doesn’t work out. I would love to point the finger at everyone and anyone for my current frame of mind, but I know, it is all down to me. I hope I will get pass this, but I guess only time will tell.

Have you ever felt like this? What did you do? What should I do? (Warning: any offers of advice for the third question will probably be growled at – yeah, I really am defeated right now – but still smiling).

Horoscope link – or is it just like the chorizo?

10 Jul

Sometimes when things are happening in our life, we are more aware of similar things occurring around us. It can be that we are into a particular type of food, or something more momentous, such as pregnancy…suddenly something that never quite reached your radar is around you constantly.

Sticking with food as an example I will use chorizo. I LOVE chorizo. Given the chance I would use it in all my cooking.

I once spent over half an hour deliberating over which type of Chorizo to buy...well I was in Spain

It isn’t an ingredient I remember my Mum ever using, and it certainly wasn’t a commonplace addition to recipes when watching cookery programmes. About four years ago my addiction for the spicy sausage started, since then, if I haven’t got chorizo in, then it’s time to go food shopping. Baked Beans had always been the food to give me the thumbs up for the food shop – you should always have a spare tin in the cupboard!

On toast, potato, with your breakfast or just with chips, you can't knock Baked Beans

Anyway, I am getting off track, in the past four years it would seem everyone has started cooking with chorizo, and the TV chefs can’t get enough of the stuff. In my youth (ha), I would have said that this was all because I was a trend setter, I was running in front of the crowd. Now I accept it is because of my awareness.

Yesterday, it was my birthday. I am also aware of two other writers that had their birthday last week. Another writers birthday for sure has been or is due because they keep posting the Cancerian horoscope via twitter. So, my question is, is it coincidence that four of us (I know a relatively small number) are Cancerians? Or, is this in itself a sign?

Now I will just say I don’t ‘do’ horoscopes. That is to say I don’t check up on what my daily, weekly, monthly predictions are, but I do believe that there is something…how to explain?

I stumbled across this, just taking a short section it describes a Cancerian as;

While in a conversation, the facial features of a crab will change a number of times, displaying his numerous moods. He has a vivid imagination and at times will drown you in his moods too. Each and every experience affects him and gets engraved in his memory. Cancerians remember everything life has taught them and are true patriots. Past intrigues them and they love to collect antiques, old treasures and ancient relics. They are the perfect keepers of secrets and people automatically confide in them.

Now as I write this I already have a nagging voice (a real one) telling me this is a load of old rubbish. Well I don’t care, I am intrigued. I am not saying the description for a Cancerian fits me perfectly, maybe 80%, but it does seem strange that it is so close.

So writers, or lets broaden this to creative types, what star sign are you? Do you match the profile?

I return to the chorizo and will say again, it may just be that because it has been my birthday that I am aware of others around me that are also celebrating, but I wonder, is it something more? Are you a writer also celebrating your birthday within the Cancerian month? Is there a link?

How Not to Self-Publish?

6 May

My next book shall be titled, ‘How Not to Self-Publish.’ To be honest, I think everybody who has taken the route, could probably write the same guide.

As with everything in life, no matter how much you know, and no matter how much of a perfectionist you are, mistakes will be made. Anyone who disagrees with this is not entirely honest with themselves.

For me, the mistakes I have made in my little adventure sting more because of the books contents. To produce ‘A Simple Guide to Self-Publishing’ and then make errors in the process, make me question my knowledge. If I’m questioning it, then others must be too.

But knowledge, and following a process are two different things. I relate this to getting married. When it came to going to get the dress, I knew exactly what I wanted. I tried on hundreds of dresses, but nothing seemed to work. I finally chose the dress, headed home, so happy, only to receive a call from the bridal shop saying the dress was damaged.

When I returned to the shop, I walked in and spotted the most amazing dress. Still, I tried on the damaged dress (because I had chosen it and it was what I knew I wanted), to realise it wasn’t right. Straight away I chose to try on the amazing dress, and you know what? It was that dress I walked down the aisle in.

At the time everyone around me was really annoyed. If only I had been more open to styles in the first place…

With my book, I knew what was required. Completing the steps I got lost in my knowledge, rather than being receptive to different ideas. A good example of this is sizing of the physical book. As I had researched, I had at that stage decided the style and design, when it came to conversion (oh what another headache), I was stubborn in my choice. Eventually I gave way, and it was sorted within thirty minutes. Seriously, I need shaking at times!

Another idea that has been drummed into me is that as soon as the book is completed, get publishing. With this in my mind, you have to be thinking about marketing, blogs, author pages, twitter, Facebook pages…I should have stopped, and reminded myself that yes, I want to be published, but you don’t need to put pressure on yourself.

My final assignment is due in next week and that is me finished at uni. Yes that is right. I have tried to get this book published and marketed, whilst completing my final year…oh and did I mention I have a daughter under one and a son of three?

As the semester is ending, I am now able to look at things more realistically, whilst patting myself on the back. I have several people who helped out with some areas of the book – those with a more credible stand within the self-publishing world. I need to email them and tell them of the books process (assuming they are not reading the blog). I have made a decision I shall wait for the paper version to be available, as well as the e-book being listed on the iBookstore (it is now available on Amazon), before making contact. In the meantime, I shall finally get to grips with twitter, make the Facebook page more credible, whilst I may finally sort out the links and images for this very blog.

One thing I am sure of, there is no need to rush in and make this work, because I can’t just make it. I need to take time to study and understand before I go further (whilst reminding myself to be more receptive to ideas).

I am already being asked what the plan is next. I have everything ready to send to agents for my novel (although not complete – it is fully outlined with the first nine chapters written). I am also considering how the guide could be improved. Whether that be an extended version, or just ‘A Guide,’ I don’t know just yet. I shall take my holiday to Spain in a few weeks and decide after that.

One thing it won’t be for sure is a guide of ‘How Not to Self-Publish.’ We all make mistakes, and no one learns better than those who make them. My guide is just to get you started, and perhaps you can share your own mistakes. A giggle between friends with a cuppa is always welcome.

Is there a difference between networking and socialising

1 Mar

As many of you know, WordPress now have the automatic publicise button. This allows your posts to be advertised on Twitter, Facebook, Messenger and Yahoo.

I happily use the Twitter service. My twitter account was set up for the sole purpose of communicating with like-minded people, or networking as it is described.

I am not a user of Yahoo, and Messenger I have but do not actively participate.

Now Facebook is a completely different thing altogether. My Facebook account is for friends only. I regularly take part in status updates and chats. But do these friends want to have my blog shoved in their face?

I don’t think so. I will, occasionally place a link to my blog, but this probably accounts for five out of every hundred posts. It’s not that I think they won’t be interested, but I see it this way, I like to know what’s happening in my friends lives, but I don’t need to know what happens within their job day in day out.

My Facebook is my private life. My blog is my work life. Do they, or should they, go hand in hand?

They do not mix well, and sometimes snippets or information may cross over, but it isn’t always required, and certainly not essential.

Blogging and tweeting in a work capacity remain isolated, and yes at times, if it is warranted a telephone communication may be needed between ‘contacts’, but as a whole, or certainly where I am at this time, web communication is ample.

But what about Facebook? Should online communication be sufficient to maintain regular contact?

I have my friends on Facebook, I interact with them daily through FB, text, telephone and face to face. I have old friends who if it wasnt for Facebook we would not know anything about each other. I have family, and those I call the misfits – people I have met once or twice in life and not really sure why we have linked.

If I was to delete everyone off my friends list who I haven’t spoken to in the last five years, i would more than half the list. If I was to consider who I have spoken with in the past four weeks I could probably count those left on my fingers.

I believe my colleagues online as those who I may speak with every few months, more if it is required. Regular contact is not necessary as day-to-day snippets are not required.

I find it fascinating that I find this acceptable, but yet when it comes to personal life, I feel we should have more contact with one another. I think it is a sign that we have a real interest in each others life, a sign that we care.

I think social media is an amazing technology. It offers so much for everyone. It opens up doors that otherwise may have remained closed to us for our entire lives. I just find it a shame that this is crossing over into our personal life, where face to face contact, or at the very least, talk time, is key to maintaining a relationship.