Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Triberr Basics for the Beginner

I have to admit, joining new social media networking sites can be daunting, especially for a writer, whose time is precious when you’d rather be writing than spending all day checking emails and touching base with each individual media outlet. It’s one reason I have yet to join Pinterest because I know I’d get hooked looking at pretties and sparklies, filling folders with favorite books, flowers, butterflies, cats or finding handsome men to represent my heroes and beautiful women I think favor my heroines.

I did recently make the foray into Triberr though and unfortunately, I didn’t read up on it before I joined, so I’m constantly learning as I go. I wasn’t even sure what Triberr was about except that other authors were starting to use it.

It can be a bit confusing when you first join, especially if you haven’t taken the time to read up on the tutorials and guides on AllTriberr.com. I wasn’t even aware of this separate yet connected entity until awhile after I joined. There are explanations of certain features as you work your way through the set up, but they still have glitches and features I'm not 100% clear about. Of course, I jumped in headfirst rather than reading all their posts about the hows, wheres, whens and whys of the place, so as I said, there’s definitely a learning curve.

The main gist of Triberr is to join or create tribes with like-minded bloggers who enjoy similar blogging themes. Mine, of course, is writing related- Taryn Raye’s Scribbling with Heart. You share your fellow tribemates blog posts- in turn, they share yours, and therefore, you will have a larger, more powerful reach concerning your blog content. One of the best parts- you can go and approve all the current blog posts in the morning and as the day moves along, those posts are automatically sent in intervals whether you’re online or not (more in on that in a minute).

As for inviting others- I'd like to have more members, but you start with only 100 bones and each invite you send or accept spends 15 bones unless you invite someone from the outside who is not a member at all. I have found this is not necessarily the case as I invited outside and it still cost bones so I’m not sure what happened there. I am aware that the site is still in the process of rewriting certain aspects so it will run better and perhaps that’s simply a downfall of getting in on the “ground floor” so to speak- there are glitches in the system that might be unavoidable.

At the moment, I only have so many "bones" that I can spend on adding tribemates. I’ve had to become more discerning when it comes to requests I’ve received. I'm still new to it myself and from what I gather, it seems there used to be a way to "earn" more bones by doing things on the site and helping others by giving them "karma," but at the moment they don't have a way to do that. From a few of the topics in the main forums or "bonfires" it seems some members figured out a way to earn more bones than they should have been allotted by doing that, so they shut it down to everyone on account of a few bad apples.

Right now, the only other way to get more bones is to buy them with real money. You can get 150 for $10, but because it costs 15 bones to invite someone and 15 of their bones to join a tribe as well, you end up going through bones quickly. It makes getting more people in your tribe frustrating when you get down to not having enough to add someone when they request to join your tribe or when you find someone you want to add but can't afford to.

I hope they fix that so it will be easier to get bones an alternative way. I can’t afford to buy more bones with real money to add people all the time. It's an added expense to my pocketbook that I can't afford and I’m sure its that way for a lot of members. If I can't earn more bones, then it will stunt the growth of my Tribe and therefore, my social reach. That’s the main goal of being a member of Triberr- the more people you connect to through your tribe, and other tribes you might join, helps grow the "audience" who sees the blogs you post and that gets more attention to your books and your "business."

The part of sharing other tribemates blogs isn't too hard once you figure out how to go through and approve the current blog posts from everyone in your Tribal Stream so those will post to Twitter at intervals. I have mine set so that once I approve all the current new blogs, they'll post approximately every 20 minutes or so. At first I worried about this because I didn’t want to set it to post constantly, but soon I discovered it doesn’t post in one fell swoop, but one individual blog post per 20 minutes which is the minimum amount of time. I think you can set it to post up to every 120 minutes, so you don't annoy fellow Twitter users or flood your Twitter Feed like someone spamming it.

The thing I like about it most is that you get a chance to see many different blogs and you can comment on them if you want or just simply share them to your Twitter for others to see. You're supposed to be able to post them to Facebook too, but for some reason, when I connected it to my Facebook profile, it wasn't posting anything at all to it from Triberr but they may still be working the bugs out of it since it's a new option. Or it could be that I don’t really need it to feed to Facebook since my posts on Twitter feeds to Facebook already and perhaps there was a application conflict.

They've also recently added a new feature on there too so you can see how often, within the last 30 days, your fellow tribemates share blog posts. Sadly, some don't share their tribemates posts at all, even if they post their own blogs for others to share. There's bound to be some "weeding" eventually that will go on among tribes for those who aren't considerate of the other members and fail to share. I have a few people who haven't shared at all in the last 30 days, but I can't remember if I've seen blogs from them come through the stream. If they see it post on Twitter and share or retweet it directly from there, it doesn't count on Triberr, so it's somewhat hard to know if they are sharing via a different route or not.

All in all, I'm still deciding whether to warm to it or not. It does have advantages and disadvantages just as you do with any other social networking site. I love knowing more people see my blog posts but I’m aware that bugs and maintenance issues abound with any form of media that is ever-changing and attempting to come up with newer, better, faster ways to assist their target membership and audience.

If you do blog a lot though, if you feel you have content worth sharing with other writers and you don’t mind sharing an eclectic variety of other writers’ blogs, then finding a “writing” tribe on Triberr is definitely a good format to help you spread your reach and grow your audience.

Post by Taryn Raye

Friday, July 27, 2012

KIW Has Their Share of "Jimmy" Covers

In the romance industry, cover model Jimmy Thomas has appeared on over 3400 book covers across all genres. Those who have worked with him know he has turned his modeling into a very beneficial business to help the romance novel industry, essentially starting out as an indie himself within his modeling field.

Thanks to KIW member Jowanna Kestner for recommending this very informative and entertaining interview. In addition to Jimmy Thomas, this interview includes cover artist, Fiona Jayde, authors, and TJ MacKay, founder, publisher and reviewer at In'Dtale magazine.

Here are the covers from KIW authors which feature Jimmy Thomas:
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The first wonderful cover is from fellow KIW author Hayden Bradburn and just happens to be her debut book. I didn't even recognize Jimmy, but she's says the cover artist lightened his hair. Thomas mentioned that on some covers, artists have made him blonde and done some amazing work. 

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This is a very young version. Thomas says he's been doing covers since 1998 and talks about why he's left the younger, leaner version of himself up for sale. Since those early days, he became a competitive martial artist. The newer body is complements of working out and that training.

And here's another cover from KIW author, Kallypso Masters. This one is very different and shows the range of emotion and sensuality of the model. Just FYI, Jimmy is the guy posing on the bed with the female model.

There is also an interesting discussion of the lack of models with his body type for covers these days. Apparently, high profile modelling agencies think his body has gone out of fashion. Right. I laughed about that myself. I bet Thomas laughs every time he deposits payments from those who disagree.

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Trivia for long time romance addicts: Fabio was on something like 288 covers. Jimmy Thomas (working with indies) has exceeded 3400, and has crossed most genres. Note though that many of the newer genres didn't exist in their current forms during Fabio's mega appearances on historical covers.

Other "Jimmy covers" in our group are Taryn Raye's historical and Devon Matthews western romance. Both have mentioned they are considering him for future covers. Actually, every author in our group cited being pleased with their Jimmy Thomas covers.

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One of the more interesting things Thomas talks about is working with authors to do a series. He spoke specifically about a $300 package that got the author/cover artist a customized pose from a photo shoot he directs himself. He has an extensive list of models he uses. There was also some interesting reasons why he doesn't let the female models he works with style their hair or have fake nails.

Another piece of interesting trivia he shares (and one I was surprised to hear): 

He says he's been doing this for many years and that not once has any author or reader at a conference made an over-the-top overture or gotten too hands on with him. He says the authors and other industry professionals he meets will tease and joke, but they don't cross the line. He attributes it to the fact that he puts out a vibe that says he's a professional model and this is both his art and work. He finds romance cover artists and novelists great to work with because of their professionalism, which is why he ended up doing what he has for a living.

It seems our writer's group is full of evidence of Jimmy's success.   Some of the listed authors have said they plan to use him again, especially those with series.

Buy from Amazon

Note about In'Dtale magazine:

It seems our writer's group is gaining momentum in the industry.

The book of another of our KIW authors, Kathy Logan, is featured in the shot of the In'Dtale magazine book review site in the video. Watch for that somewhere in the first 15 minutes of the video when the interviewer flashes to that site.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Making time to write

When people who don’t know me very well find out that I write books, they ask, “How do you have time for that?” It’s a legitimate question. I’m a full-time middle school teacher, and my husband and I have three children who need our attention, homework assistance, and regular transportation! My life is full and busy, and it would be very, very easy to let the writing slip through the cracks. But I don’t. It’s not always easy, but I make time for it, because it’s important to me.

I’ve had to be creative about finding time to write. Unfortunately, setting aside a regular chunk of time to devote to my writing just doesn’t work for my family’s situation and schedule, so I’ve figured out a few things that do work for me. It’s not an exact science, and I am certainly no expert, but I know the things that have allowed me to keep writing despite all the other responsibilities that require my attention.

Tip 1: Get Mobile

My first recommendation is to make your writing-self mobile. By this I mean it’s super helpful to have some sort of technology that allows you to write wherever, whenever. For me, I’ve found it essential to not be tied down to wherever my desktop computer is! Before I used a laptop computer for mobile-writing, I used an AlphaSmart Word Processor. The AplhaSmart is not as pricey as a laptop, but offers the same type of mobility. An iPad or other table can also serve this same purpose. Being mobile means that I can write on my front porch, my desk at work, in the car on long trips, and a variety of other places. Because sometimes, the only free time I have is in the car!

Tip 2: Make Minutes Count

Learn to write productively in small batches. Productive writing time does not have to be an hour or more. In fact, for me, some of my most productive writing times are only 15 – 20 minutes. I’ve learned to squeeze writing into my lunch break, into the twenty minutes between the kids’ bedtime and mine, or the few minutes I have alone before the kids arrive home from school. When I know I have a few minutes coming up, I have the wheels turning in my head beforehand, thinking about what I want to accomplish. Using small batches of time intentionally, with a little forethought, can make those times super-productive.

Tip 3: Put Pen to Paper

Don’t discount the value of actual pen and paper. I know everyone is writing on a computer these days (me included!), but sometimes nothing replaces an actual piece of paper and a pen. For instance, if you’re shopping at the mall and all of a sudden the perfect bit of dialogue pops into your mind. Or maybe you’re sitting in church or a meeting and suddenly you have the majority of a plot playing out in your head. Those moments are GOLDEN! Don’t lose them because you aren’t at a computer. Write them down! I used to try to carry a journal with me, but it never seemed to stay in my purse, and my kids always wound up using it for doodling in the car, but I always have some scrap piece of paper, even if it’s just an empty envelope from a bill I’ve already paid! I plotted the biggest part of my current release on the back of 3 church bulletins on Sunday morning during church service. I know this is advice that any writer should - and probably does take to heart - but I think for those of us who are balancing demanding day jobs and parenting responsibilities, along with our writing, this bit of advice is particularly important.

Tip 4: Value the Prep Time
It’s extremely important to realize that writing is more than putting words on paper (or the computer screen). While it’s true that adding to the word count is the most concrete way to measure productivity, it’s also vital to recognize the importance of everything else that goes into writing. The research. The brainstorming. The plotting. The stewing. The stressing. It’s all a part of the whole. And without one or more of the parts, the whole would not be complete. In my extremely busy life that sometimes threatens to edge out my writing time, I’ve learned to recognize and value the time I spend doing the things that lead up to putting words on the screen. After all, I can plot while watching a middle school basketball game or scrambling eggs for breakfast!

It boils down to this: We make time for what’s important. And when the writing is important, as it is to all of us, we find ways to carve out time.

Post by Amy Durham