internet

Library-Hopping Adventure #3 #amreading #amwriting

 

Why I Like Writing in Libraries:

  • They’re libraries, as in churches of books.
  • They’re free. No obligation to buy coffee.
  • They’re MUCH quieter than Starbucks.
  • Some are open until as late as 9pm–perfect for evening writing. University libraries have even later hours–much later–often until 2 in the morning. (Thank you, night-owl college students.)
  • For weekend writing, libraries are the best. Most are open on Saturdays, and some even have Sunday hours. Which brings me to this week’s library-hopping adventure: Newport Beach Central Library.

Newport Beach Central Library is huge, a whopping 71,000 sq. ft.–so big I had to use the panorama feature on my camera to photograph the building facade. And again with the palm trees. Are there any libraries in my county without palm trees? Hmm, that’s a question for the next library-hopping adventure. Ext NB Central Library.jpg

The Good

  • This library is open on Sundays.
  • Because I keep the latest versions of my works in progress on Google Docs, I appreciate that Newport Beach Central Library offers a generous five hours of free internet access–with a library card. So, of course, I signed up for a library card. 🙂 In fact, I want to collect a whole DECK of library cards, one for each of the 33 cities in my county, plus the county library  system (which I already have). So far, at three different cities, I’ve been able to sign up for a library card even though I don’t reside in the actual city.
  • Newport Beach Central Library is super quiet. I got in an hour of uninterrupted writing, and it was very peaceful.

The Good & Bad

Newport Beach Central Library has tons and tons and tons of seating. . . none of it the least bit inviting. And I wished I had a cushion for the hard wooden chair.

Study Table.jpg

The Bad

  • Not that I should be staring out windows while writing, but it’s worth noting that the view–which you’d think would be amazing since this library is located in a beach town–was not very good, just street traffic and overly landscaped parking lots.
  • At the top of the stairs is a large open area with a credit union and a bistro, which totally had the feel of a mall. Call me old-fashioned, but I like my libraries mall-less.

Random Highlight

There’s an 8-ft. bunny statue on the lawn. Yes, just sitting out there all by his lonesome, no plaque or anything. No one knows why this is. Maybe the giant bunny is on a library-“hopping” adventure of his own. XD

8 ft rabbit.jpg

–Eve Messenger

Instagram, What’s Good(?), and Why I’m Ready to Post Bad Photos

Bad Photo

I’m one of those weird people who actually likes it when people show me their family photos. I’ll happily browse through them, even if the pictures are of people I’ve never met. I enjoy looking at all kinds of pictures, really, especially of books, exotic locales, and cute animals. “You’ll love Instagram,” people tell me, “especially #bookstagram!” So why did it take me so long to hop on the Instagram train?

Issue #1. I am a terrible photographer. Seriously, taking decent pictures is not in my skill set.

Issue #2. When I first set up my Instagram account, I logged on simultaneously from both my computer and my cell phone. Why or how I did this is a mystery. All I know is that afterward I was unable to log onto Instagram.

As of today, issue #2 has been resolved. Yay, now I’m ready to post badly photographed pictures and to follow all you wonderful booklovers on Instagram. If you have any Instagram advice you’d like to share, this rank newbie would sure love to hear it.

  1. Who do you like to follow on Instagram–any recommendations?
  2. What are good things I can post pictures of?
  3. Is there anything else should I know about Instagram?

Thanks!

Oh, and my Instagram handle is: @eve_messenger  🙂

 

What I Learned as a Writer in 2015 #writerslife #amwriting

In pursuing my ambition to publish great YA novels, here are some things I learned over the past year:

  1. Beyond the thrill of being able to express my passion for writing and books, there are great benefits to blogging, the best of which is getting to know creative, supportive fellow writers and book lovers, many of whom I now consider friends. I see you, Tracy L. Jackson, Beth @ betwixt-these-pages, Kelly Deeny, Elena Johansen, FamilyRules, Wallace CassAnnika Perry,  Pat Sherard, The Glitter Afficianado, Stephanie @ Eclectic ScribblingsMelanie Noell Bernard, Nate Philbrick,  Sabrina Marsi BooksJennifer F. Santucci, Mackenzie BatesStephanie @ yourdaughtersbookshelf Karen @ MyTrain of Thoughts,  Amanda d Bat,  Carolyn @ A Hundred Thousand StoriesErica @ Books the Thing,   the bookwormgirls123.
  2. I am better at editing a first draft on the computer than on a hard copy, even though a lot of advice-givers recommend against it.
  3. A style sheet is helpful, especially for tracking important plot dates.
  4. Literary agents are regular folks and book lovers just like us.
  5. To write first drafts without censoring myself.
  6. To create headers for each scene in Word so I can easily find them later using the navigation screen.
  7. To  keep a “book blurb” Word file for when I feel especially excited about my novel and get ideas on how to pitch it in future query letters.
  8. Short stories are not my preferred medium; what I truly love is writing novels (and I’m sort of learning it’s okay to be better at some things than others.)
  9. Flash fiction is fun…and challenging.
  10. Collecting images for novel inspiration boards on Pinterest is a blast and really does stimulate ideas.
  11. It’s still great to be able to hold a book in my hands, but reading novels on electronic devices won’t kill me.
  12. I want to get more into #bookstagram and #booklr.
  13. Saving the previous draft of a story before making editing changes avoids a lot of lost good writing.
  14. All writers, even the most successful ones, find writing novels to be really hard work.
  15. When I stay away from my novel for too long, I forget I’m actually good at writing it.
  16. Even when I’m afraid to work on my novel, I do have the discipline and faith to always return to it.
  17. Daily writing goals and rewards make me a much more productive writer.
  18. My writing really does improve with practice.
  19. Beta critiquing other people’s novels makes me a better writer.
  20. Google Docs is a really handy tool that allows me to work on manuscripts on my phone, home computer, out-of-town relatives’ computers, and hotel lobby computers. . . but I still always keep multiple back-up copies of my work.
  21. A change purse is a great place to keep a flash drive.
  22. I really am dedicated to publishing YA novels and maybe, just maybe, I am worthy of success.

Fantastic Winter Break Binge-Watch : Jessica Jones

Jessica Jones

Holy female badass, Netflix’s Jessica Jones is Marvel-ous. Great casting, acting, music, writing, and cinematography aside, Jessica Jones (played by Ann Hathaway lookalike Krysten Ritter) is a character you’d want to watch even if she didn’t possess superpowers. (J.J. Abrams and Disney would do well to take note of how this show does it–characters with depth are infinitely more watchable.)

Beneath Jessica Jones’ ability to throw 300-lb. guys through walls is an aching fragility. She is conflicted, pissed, boozy, shit-talking, embraces her own sexuality, thinks fast on her feet, and is devoted to what she does. Jessica’s bordering-on-con-artist skills as a private detective are especially entertaining.

More than any other series except Orange is the New Black, Jessica Jones brims with a perfect cast of strong, interesting female characters, notably Carrie-Ann Moss of Matrix/Trinity fame and Australian actress Rachael Taylor (who at first I could have sworn was Elisha Cuthbert all grown up) .

In case you haven’t watched Jennifer Jones yet, I’ll hold back from revealing which actor was chosen to play the sociopathic, mind-controlling supervillain, but I’ll say this: it was a genius casting decision.

–Eve Messenger (who occasionally takes time away from writing and reading to watch TV shows and movies, especially during a blissful event called three-week winter break.)

Writing and Balancing Social Media #amwriting

social-media

graphic courtesy of Ryan Lanz @ A Writer’s Path

As writers, most of us have four jobs: our day job, family life, writing, and social media. For obvious reasons, we have to spend time at our day jobs. We also have to spend time with our families because, well, relationships make life worth living. As for writing, that’s non-negotiable. Except it is. Even when our life’s ambition is to publish novels, we don’t always make enough time to write, and sometimes (often) the culprit is our fourth job, social media.

If you’re like me, you worry that you might be spending too much time on social media. Try not to beat yourself up about this too much. Marketing experts and industry specialists universally agree (I know, that surprised me, too) that, if you’re serious about building a writing career, social media is necessary. Authors must be visible to the public, accessible, and connected to what is happening in the publishing world.

Yay, so we don’t have to worry that we’re spending too much time on social media!

Well, maybe.

How Do You Know You’re Spending Too Much Time on Social Media?

Most of us have an innate sense for when we’re spending an unhealthy amount of time online. And our manuscripts definitely know because they’re not growing as fast as we’d like them to.

According to literary agent and writer’s-best-friend, Jane Friedman, “If it’s starting to drag on your resources and time to do other things more important to you (such as writing), then it’s time to re-assess.”

Why is social media so tempting?

“When we go on these sites, our underlying drive is to satisfy that innate need to connect to others. It comforts us and fulfills us to know that we are not alone.” Well put, Melissa Joy Kong.

Speaking mostly for myself, I’ll hazard a guess that writers are particularly susceptible to social media’s siren call. Since we writers are not the world’s most extroverted creatures (hence, we immerse ourselves in imaginary worlds), the “comfort” of social media is logically a huge temptation.

Now for the Big Question . . . How to Balance Writing and Social Media?

#1 Set Goals and Prioritize

Just like setting goals for your writing, also set goals for the time you spend on social media. Joshua Graham recommends that you “Make to-do lists every day and put tasks in priority order.”

#2 Quality over Quantity

Don’t try to do it all; stick to social media platforms you enjoy and do them well. If blogging every day doesn’t negatively impact your writing time, then go for it. However, Chuck Sambuchino suggests, “It’s very possible to have a platform with the ‘less is more’ philosophy, as long as you focus on the absolute quality of your efforts.”

#3 “Batch” Your Time

There’s this term efficiency experts use called “batching” time. This means setting aside blocks of time for, in our case, writing. During that time block, all you should do is write. Then you can set aside other blocks of time for blogging and each social media platform. You’ll get far more accomplished if you’re not constantly switching between blogging, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr and, of course, all-important writing.

If resisting social media during your writing block is too difficult, consider downloading the Anti-Social app ($15), which you can program to block overly tempting websites during time periods that you set.

#4 Frontload Blog and Social Media Posts

During your “blog time block,” frontload blog posts. For example, set aside each Sunday afternoon to write all your blog posts for the week. You can also write and schedule social media posts in advance using programs like Hootsuite.

#5 Set a Daily Limit on Your Social Media Time

What is a reasonable amount of time to spend on social media? “It varies from person to person” is an answer I hate, so I won’t say that. Instead, I’ll give you Jody Hedlund’s wise answer, which is: “The time we give to our writing should be greater than the time we spend on marketing.” This makes sense, right, writers?

Here’s my favorite answer. (Way to be bold with your very specific answer, Katie Wagner.) In her video blog, Wagner says you should engage in social media for “fifteen minutes, three times a day.” During each fifteen-minute social media block spend:

  • Five minutes posting;
  • Five minutes responding to posts from others;
  • Five minutes reading and commenting on other people’s blogs and social media accounts.

There you have it. If you follow all these suggestions, you will never again have to worry about spending too much time on social media.

Right?

Well, except that we’re writers and we’ll always find reasons to worry. Plus, we’ll probably still spend too much time on social media. But even if you incorporate one or two of these suggestions into your daily or weekly routine, you’ll be making more time to write, which will move you ever closer to your ultimate goal of publishing novels.

If you’ve found other ways of balancing writing and social media, please share!

— Eve Messenger