Wednesday, May 14, 2014

5 Google+ hacks

 I keep learning more crazy things about Google+, and I feel like I've barely scratched the surface. These are a few of the things I thought other people should know too!

1. You can receive Google+ notifications on your iPhone.

Now, Google+ has an excellent Android app, but nothing for the iPhone yet. If you can't get the app right now, you can still get SMS notifications on your phone.

Here's how to set it up:

Click the "gear" icon at the top right of your screen in Google+ and select "Google+ Settings." Click the "Google+" tab and click "Add phone number" under delivery preferences. Enter your cell number here. Google will send a verification code to your phone. Enter that code in the box that appears on Google+.

Next, scroll down and check what events you want to receive notifications for. (Mentions, photo tags, etc.)

2. You can mute notifications on one of your posts (this is my favorite Facebook feature; glad to see it here!).

If you're getting a lot of activity on a post (read: you're one of the popular kids), it can be irritating to get constant notifications. To mute notifications on a single post, open Notifications, click the annoying notification, and click "mute this post.”

3.  You can use free SMS in lieu of texting with Google Voice (if you have a teenage daughter and don't have unlimited texting, this might be a lifesaver for you!). Download the google voice app and you can get your updates on your iphone without having to pay for an unlimited texting plan. To be perfectly honest, I haven't tried this yet. The hubs and I have unlimited texting, but my coworker Brian SWEARS this is true.

4.  You can add more information to your pop-up window.
If you hover over your avatar, you're simply a thumbnail with a few words of description, likely your company name, profession or location. Booooooring!
Why don't you show people how fantastic you really are? Go to edit your profile, select the employment section, and in the first "Employer name" box, write what you want people to see (your bio, a short poem, whatever) and check the "current" box. Whatever you have written should now appear when people hover over your avatar.

5. You can add special photo effects.

Click on one of your photos to bring up the dark background view. Click the "Enhance" menu at the top right of your photo, then click “Customize” in the dropdown menu. Not only are there options such as "Auto Enhance" and "Tune Image," “Retrolux” and “HDR scape” are also available. So, you know, turn your pictures black and white or all old-timey!
What's your favorite Google+ hack? 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Writing Process Blog Hop: My First Blog Hop Ever!

I was invited by the talented Krista Quintana (Check out her blog, Color Coordinated) to participate in a blog hop. Naturally, I first panicked, because while I’ve seen these words around before, I had no idea what they meant. It’s like “hookeybobbing”; it means something (though definitely not something as dirty as it sounds), but I finally bucked up and asked this year. Trivia question: do you know what that means?
These are the questions I was asked to complete for you all. Hope you enjoy!

1.       What am I working on? Currently, I’m experimenting whether or not it’s possible to successfully self-publish a quality children’s picture book on a budget. I hope to have The Clumsy Princess available in both print and electronic versions by the end of June! I’m also working on a detective novel, yet untitled, that I hope to self-publish next year sometime.

2.       How does my work differ from others of its genre? I’m tired of children’s stories where the princess simply waits to be rescued. Instead, my princesses are adventurous, exciting, and have a life outside of waiting for a prince to show up and sweep them away to something better. These are the stories I want to read to my girls one day.

3.       Why do I write what I do? The Clumsy Princess is intended to encourage, in a fun way, accepting who you are, without being preach-y. I’m hoping that the subtle influences of a fun and courageous character will help girls not aspire to be the Disney-perfect princess, but instead realize that they don’t have to be perfect to be a princess in their own way.

4.       How does my writing process work? I write in fits and spurts. I know some people carve time out to write daily, but my days are utterly unpredictable, due to being on call 24/7 for work. However, when I sit down and write, often 5-10 pages will pour out of me at once. Usually, a story bangs and rattles around inside my head for a while until I absolutely must get it down on paper. The Clumsy Princess had been on my mind ever since my friend’s 18 month old daughter ended up in the Emergency Room again, this time for taking a fearless flying leap off the top bunk while on a family vacation.

Now you know a little about me… I’m interested in you! Tell me something about yourself?

And don’t forget to check out Krista Quintana’s blog, Color Coordinated

Friday, May 2, 2014

Excellent Writing Advice from Ernest Hemingway

 The writer of "A Farewell to Arms" and "The Old Man and the Sea," was a foul-mouthed, charmingly genuine man, with a love of the written word and grain alcohol. Never short on opinions, he contributed some of the best advice on writing I've ever had the pleasure of reading. Without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, the incorrigible Ernest Hemingway.
“The first draft of everything is shit.”

“The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shockproof, shit detector. This is the writer's radar and all great writers have had it.

“Write drunk, edit sober.”

“There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it’s like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.”

“Prose is architecture, not interior decoration.”

“In order to write about life first you must live it.”

“Eschew the monumental. Shun the Epic. All the guys who can paint great big pictures can paint great small ones.”

“The most solid advice for a writer is this, I think: Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell. And when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.”

“It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.”

“I write one page of masterpiece to ninety-one pages of shit. I try to put the shit in the wastebasket.”

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Time to Throw in the Towel? Self-Publishing Success Stories

I bet you've heard of every single one of the following people! And I bet you had no idea that they started as self-published authors. 

Warning: Results not typical. Contact your doctor in you experience double vision, as this may be a sign of a more serious condition. Side effects may include obsessive writing, giddiness, frustration, and words not fit for print. 

John Grisham wrote his first novel, "A Time To Kill" in 1989. He received 28 rejection letter before self-publishing a mere 5,000 copies through a small private publisher. He was eventually picked up by Doubleday. After writing three more books ("The Firm," "The Pelican Brief" and "The Client"), Grisham sold Doubleday the rights to "A Time To Kill," and reissued it. Now his books are available in every grocery store, bookstore, and airport in the United States. According to Wikipedia, he has sold more than 275 million books worldwide! Not too shabby!

The innocent childhood favorite, "The Tales of Peter Rabbit," was rejected several times by publisher. But Beatrix Potter knew she had a great idea and wouldn’t give up. She self-published Peter Rabbit’s stories in 1901. Only a year later, one of the publishers who had initially rejected the manuscript published it (want to bet they were humble and apologetic?). They also published 22 more of her stories. Over two million Beatrix Potter books are sold every year. BAM! Pretty fantastic for bunnies and frogs dressed in waistcoats!

E.L. James (Erika Leonard) has sold more than 70 million copies of her "Fifty Shades" trilogy worldwide. She started out writing Twilight fan fiction (literally just felt you shudder. It’s ok. I understand) stories and posting them on her website. When she wrote "Fifty Shades of Grey," she self-published it through a small Australian publishing company. It was released it on eBook and print-on demand. After the world discovered that a bunch of middle aged women enjoy BDSM erotica, the rights were acquired by Vintage Books.

William P. Young’s self-published Christian fiction book, “The Shack,” became a USA Time Bestseller, selling over a million copies. Before it was successful however, it was rejected by both secular and Christian publishing companies. In fact, Young and his friends created their own publishing company for the sole purpose of publishing that book. Marketing, for the first year, was simply word of mouth and a $300 website they paid someone to put together for them. In 2008, the book’s popularity exploded, and spent 70+ weeks on the New York Times Paperback Best Seller’s List.

There are more out there. And, with social media being what it is, there are more success stories coming! Hang in there, friends! You could be next!

Did any of this surprise you? What other self-publishing success stories are out there?