Saturday, 20 September 2014

Flying Solo

Taxing times at Hedges Towers. As some of you know, BH is off on his Annual Italian Jaunt, visiting lovely places, eating lovely food and indulging in the twin cultural pursuits of opera and football. Oh, and a further visit to the Maserati factory in Modena, just in case this year, they might be giving away free samples.

I did seriously think about joining him for a week, despite my known travel phobia, but then I fell foul of the Passport Office, who wanted to charge me an inordinate amount of money to renew my passport and have now refused to send back my old one plus the photos I paid for. So I am confined to the Kingdom of Westfield (population: 2) - if you remember, we seceded from the rest of Harpenden in a defiant gesture against what we see as a ruthless and totalitarian regime.

I could, of course, issue my own passport, but the printer is playing up (see below). However, I may start opening diplomatic negotiations with Scotland, should the Yes vote win the day on Thursday. I am happy to offer the newly refurbished shed as a Caledonian Consulate and I'm sure, once we have our flag and anthem worked out, we we can all come to some mutually amicable trade arrangement.

Be that as it may, the usual Things That Go Wrong thing has kicked in. Keys have walked. My mobile phone vanished for 24 hours. The 2CV has had carburettor problems, which Big Dave assures me have been 95% sorted. The 5% is waking me up at night though. Along with everything else. This always happens whenever I fly solo: I am wide awake at 2 am, over-thinking and focusing obsessively on stuff. It's a form of Attention Surplus Hyperactivity Disorder, thought after a week of broken nights, it all feels more like one slice of a madness sandwich.

Were this not enough, I am also being re-awoken 4 hours later by the Astonishment of Kitten, whose arrival is heralded by crashes, squawks and the thunder of tiny paws. It is pretty well impossible to be cross with a kitten, but one jumping ecstatically on you at 6 am could prove the exception to the rule. If I could only train her to make and bring up a mug of coffee, she'd be slightly more welcome.

Meanwhile paperwork piles up, disasters rain down, the grass continues to grow and I get increasingly irate with Classic FM presenters: It's anTITHesis, for goodness sake - any alternative proNUNciation is totally abHORrent. Ah, the joys of flying solo.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

A Letter To My Granddaughter, Aged 6 Months

A little stewed apple goes a long way

Dear Avalyn Grace

I wrote to you 6 months ago, when you were born (here it is). So much has changed since that day, so I thought I'd write to you again. The biggest change has been in you. Here you are, sitting up (a bit topply still but you're getting there) and beginning to enjoy some solid food - even if much of it gets spread all over your face.

You now recognise members of your family - your eyes light up and you smile with delight whenever you see your mum and dad and gratifyingly, when you see your granddad and me. Your smile is as wide as Africa, and brightens the dullest day. You have started to ''sing'' loudly and frequently delight bus passengers and people in restaurants with your vocal talents. At least, we hope they are delighted.

A smile as wide as Africa

You still don't go through the night - luckily your mum mastered the art of sleeping standing up while doing her Territorial Army Training - we wondered at the time whether it was a skill she'd ever need to use in the future. How wrong we were. It's certainly coming into its own now.

Along with your stunning ability to keep two grown adults awake during much of the hours of darkness, you are also managing NOT to conform to the many expert baby manuals they dutifully bought when you were born. You ''should'' be rolling, you ''should be'' cutting teeth, you ''should be'' doing this...or that....but alas, you haven't read the books, so you are developing at your own pace.

The 'bucket list' of achievements means nothing as far as you are concerned. You are doing your own thing, riding your own wave. As you will spend most of your young life being measured against a set of ridiculous and arbitrary developmental milestones, go ahead. Refuse to be straitjacketed and enjoy being yourself.

I cannot believe that a whole six months of your life has sped by and in another six months, you will be a year old. Soon after that, I shall be looking after you when your mum returns to work. Admittedly I'm not one of the ''experts' but I have my own 'bucket list' all ready. On it are: love, cuddles, fun and adventures. And I promise you, I will make sure you manage to achieve them all.

With my love


Saturday, 6 September 2014

The Pen Is Mightier Than The Sward

Most of you know that I am a local ''activist' (or bloody nuisance, depending upon what side of the Council fence you sit). For the past seven years I have campaigned to save an ex-allotment space from being sold off for ''affordable housing'' (see: if you have enough time or a strong stomach.)

Much of the campaign has been conducted via letters in the local paper. The Editor is happy to publish what I see as wryly witty Swiftian missives, because they wind people up, and anything that provokes debate is good for sales. The letters have quite a following ... especially when I get piled into, and I have to say that very little of what I get on Twitter compares to the splenetic rantings of the ironectomied in response to something that was written with tongue firmly planted in cheek.

Which segues nicely into the new Strategic Local Plan - something all local authorities have to produce. Ours has now shuffled shamefacedly into the light of day. An independent consultant has looked at a Google Map, seen some green bits, and decided they'd be good to build on. One bit contains a local bluebell wood and a newly refurbished teenage playground, but let that pass. The main problem is that a rented farmer's field to the North of Harpenden (the posh Tory bit that NEVER has any major development. Ever.) has been highlighted as a potential housing estate.

Cue angry letter from 'No I Am Not A Nimby' resident, saying that it would be far better to sacrifice local allotments than build on his bit of ''Greenbelt''; allotments being a minority hobby, taking up a lot of urban green space that could be more usefully turned over to housing. It needed a reply, so I wrote to the paper proposing that instead of sacrificing valuable allotments that provided havens for wildlife, and food for hard-pressed families, the council might like to turn over some of the local golf courses to satisfy housing needs instead.

I suggested that there seemed little benefit in keeping all these rolling swathes of green grass merely to allow a small and exclusive elite to wander across hitting little balls into holes (sic). This would preserve the Greenbelt AND the allotments together. The response was immediate and totally predictable. However in an unexpected twist, last week when the furore appeared to have all died down, lo! another letter - not from One Of The Usual Suspects, but from someone actually supporting my 'suggestion', saying what a very good idea it was, and that they hoped the council would seriously take it on board.

I am gleefully awaiting the inevitable response, pen in hand, ink pot at the ready.

If you would like to read a free sample of my novel Diamonds& Dust, A Victorian Murder Mystery, you can do so HERE. US readers can do so HERE

Update: Another letter in this weeks' local paper supporting my idea of building on golf courses. This could run and run....or stroll and stroll.

Friday, 29 August 2014

8 Top Blogging Tips

This blog first appeared on my Twitter friend @TerryTyler4's site. I am re-posting it here as it stands alongside the 3 Twitter posts: Twitter For Fledglings. Blogs seem to be falling out of fashion again and I think I am one of the few who still posts regularly, which is a shame. Hopefully, this may encourage a few people to start their own blog, or restart regular blog posting ...

When my first book was published in 1992, the internet was in its infancy, ebooks were a glint in some geek’s eye and Amazon was just a sapling. There was no need to develop an online presence as there was no real ‘online’. And anyway, there were bookshops in every high street.
Fast forward twenty-two years and my, how things have changed! Now the proliferation of self and small publishers, advances in digital publishing, the sad demise of local bookshops and the all-pervasive presence of the internet means that any writer who wants to be seen or to promote or sell their work has to use social media platforms. One of my favourite online platforms comes via my blog.
I started the blog on May 12th 2012 principally because I was planning to self-publish an ebook, Jigsaw Pieces. The kind friendly writer mentoring me told me I needed a blog and I always do as I’m told. The first post was read by three people, one of whom (my mentor) was nice enough to comment. Now, the blog regularly gets 500+ hits a week, rising to over 800+ as it travels gently through cyberspace and can elicit as many as 40 comments.
I don’t sell a lot of books via my blog, but that isn’t its primary purpose. It is an outlet for other types of writing; a space where I can share my thoughts on life and stuff and people can read them and get to know me. Hopefully if they like what they read, they THEN might go on to try one of my books. 
So what makes a “good’’ blog?
Posting regularly. I put up a new blog every Saturday morning at 8 am. This encourages a regular reading clientele.
Responding to comments. People like to know their comments have been read and absorbed by me. Sometimes, whole strings can develop, as people also interact with each other, which is great fun to follow.
Varying the content. I blog about local politics, my writing processes, the madness of life in general and the Adventures of the 2 Grumpy Old Sods aka me and my husband.
Using Twitter hashtags. I use these as ways of targeting the blogs at a specific readership. Some tags are obvious : #wwwBlogs are posts written on Wednesday by (largely) women writers.#MondayBlogs opens the door on Mondays. I also use #UKAD, a generic site for all sorts of writers and artists. Or, depending on the content, I may use #histifc for posts about Victorian life, or #amwriting for advice posts.
Hosting fellow writers. Every month I feature a Guest Post which is a chance not only to draw other people to the blog, but also gives a platform to another writer with a new book to publicise. Supporting my friends is a big part of what I believe in as a writer.
Eschewing advertising. There is money to be made from selling advertising space on one’s blog. I don’t do this, as it detracts from the content. Also I feel we are bombarded enough with adverts in everyday life.
Visiting & commenting on other blogs. Essential. Apart from being a polite acknowledgement that someone has taken the time and trouble to comment on mine, it also helps me to become known by the writing/reading community. And there are some great posts out there.
Writing guest posts. A great honour, as well as another opportunity to get out and presence myself somewhere else. Unless absolutely snowed under with life, I never turn down an invitation because who knows who may be reading my words?

If you would like to download a free sample of Diamonds&Dust, A Victorian Murder Mystery, you can do so here. US readers can do so here

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Present Tense

A very frenetic week at Hedges Towers. Those of you who follow the adventures of the Two Grumpy Old Sods will know we recently lost our remaining elderly cat Holly, having said a sad goodbye to her brother Bart in November.

As a house without cats is like a BLT sandwich without the B, I decided to go kitten hunting round the animal rescue places. At first, without much success. Oh, they HAD kittens, were up to their kneecaps in kittens, but that was last week. Two kittens? 'Fraid not.

Then last week, we struck gold. Four out of a litter of five kittens at the Blue Cross had been reserved. The fifth, a little tortie, was still looking for someone to take her home. And, I was told, would be better as a solo kitten. Welcome Halley - called after the man who invented comets.We always seem to give our cats similar sounding names (Honey, Holly, Halley): because as senescence descends, it makes it easier to remember.

So, currently, I am kitten whispering as she finds her paws and destroys the house. The cosy bed has been rejected, the edge of the carpet substituted for the scratching post and she has turned her nose up at the Whiskas kitten that I was assured she ate. So far so normal.

I was engaged upon yet another 'find the kitten' exercise when, pulling out BH's favourite chair, I discovered a SpaceNK bag tucked behind it. Now, BH, bless him, has a bit of a rep for losing my birthday and Christmas presents. Two years ago, he lost an envelope of vouchers for my favourite clothes shop. Luckily, the owners remembered him buying them, so let me ''spend'' them.

When I say BH ''loses'' presents, what he actually does is hide them so securely that he can't remember where he put them in the first place. This is because I go present hunting. The SpaceNK bag was meant to be last year's Christmas' present. I had carefully written down exactly what I wanted to make it easy for him. (The same tactic, apparently, is currently employed by women all over the country who have run out of that Nars blusher called Super Orgasm. The SpaceNK staff say whenever they see a man creeping cautiously into the shop holding a piece of paper, it's a safe bet that's what they've come to buy).

So, we have a new kitten, and I have reserves of my lovely Nude Treatment Oil. Bit of a win:win situation. I'm now hoping Halley will help me track down this year's Christmas present.....even if it is by default.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Editing with Sue Barnard


Being a writer has often been compared to having homework every night for the rest of your life.  That being the case, then being an editor can perhaps best be compared to having to mark that homework.

It’s a little over the twelve months since I first started working as an editor for Crooked Cat Publishing.  I’d recently completed an online course in Editing and Rewriting, under the expert tutelage of the wonderful Dr Calum Kerr.*  I’d originally signed up for the course with a view to being able to cast a more critical eye over my own work, but I came away from it with two further thoughts in mind.  The first was a burning desire to channel the interminable rantings of my Inner Grammar Geek into a force for good.  The second was that if I can’t make it as a writer myself, then at least I might be of some small use to those who can.

Since then, I’ve been asked several times: What exactly does an editor do?

In short, the editor is the author’s right-hand man (or in my case woman) who works closely with the author to produce a pristine manuscript which will, in turn, become a published work.  One of the biggest problems with being a writer is the danger of becoming so involved with one’s own work that one loses all sense of objectivity.   (Take this from one who knows.  Been there, done that, spilled coffee all down the T-shirt, and then again all down the clean one I put on in its place…) This is the point at which the writer needs an extra pair of eyes.  The editor, who is in the privileged position of being the first person to see the manuscript in the capacity of the reader, is that extra pair of eyes. 

An editor is much more than just a proofreader.  True, an editor does need to keep an eagle eye open for typos, spelling mistakes, punctuation slips and grammar gaffes – but the editor also needs to be on the lookout for other things that don’t necessarily fall within the proofreader’s remit.  These might include:

-       Continuity errors.  For example, an object which is red in one scene suddenly and inexplicably becomes green in another.
-       Factual errors. A large flock of robins is seen happily feeding on a lawn.  Robins are territorial, so this would never happen in real life.
-       Inconsistencies of character.  Why would a lifelong vegetarian be seen happily tucking into a large steak?
-       Loose ends left dangling.  If an object is lost, either it needs to be found, or a plausible reason must be given for its failure to reappear.
-       Dangling modifiers.  “A man in a red car wearing a black coat” could mean that coat is being worn by the car rather than the man.
-       Possible issues of copyright when quoting from other sources.
-       Sentences or paragraphs which need to be split or reformatted because they’ve come out too long or complicated.  Like I’ve just had to do with this one, in fact.
-       Passages where some details might need more clarification.  This happens when an idea has formed in the author’s head, but has never actually made it on to the page. 

This last problem is surprisingly common, and when it crops up, the author (often working in the mistaken belief that the reader automatically knows as much as the writer does) usually doesn’t see it.  I once beta-read a novella for a writer friend who couldn’t believe that I didn’t understand why one of the characters had behaved in a particular way.  Said friend insisted that the motive behind it had been explained – but when asked to point out exactly where, was forced to admit that no, it hadn’t.

Sue's novel
One of the editor’s other tasks is to make suggestions for improvement to the text, such as tightening up dialogue, or getting rid of superfluous words or phrases, or sometimes changing the structure of sentences so that they read more easily.  This is achieved by judicious use of the “Track changes” feature in MS Word.  This wonderful tool is the e-quivalent of the teacher’s red pen.  Changes suggested by the editor appear on the manuscript highlighted in red.  The manuscript is then returned to the author, who has the choice of accepting or rejecting those changes.  The author then might suggest more changes (which show up on the manuscript in blue), and returns the document to the editor.  Rinse and repeat as necessary.  When both author and editor are completely happy with the result, the final (squeaky-clean) manuscript is then returned to the publisher.

After that, a proof is returned to the author for checking.  This final check is very important, as typos or formatting errors can still creep in at this late stage.   And, without wishing to sound disrespectful to other members of my honoured profession, it is not unknown for editors to make mistakes.  One infamous example of this took place a few years ago, and the unfortunate victim of this particular editorial blunder was none other than JK Rowling.  The first print-run of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire contained a glaring continuity error, which, until it was subsequently explained, baffled Rowling’s readers for a long time.   The mistake (which was corrected in later editions of the book) did not appear in her original manuscript.  It was introduced by one of her editors. 

Come to think of it, editing is, in many ways, a bit like housework.  Nobody ever notices it – unless it’s done badly.

*Dr Kerr has asked me to point out that although the Editing & Rewriting course is not currently running, it will soon be available as a textbook/how-to book. 

As well as being a member of Crooked Cat’s editorial team, Sue is a published and award-winning poet, and the author of two novels: The Ghostly Father (which was nominated for the 2014 Guardian First Book Award) and Nice Girls Don’t.  Both are available in paperback and e-book form.

You can read her blog here.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Women in Cages

Steel Cage Crinoline 1860s

Whenever I mention that I write Victorian crime fiction, people always comment upon the infamous crinoline. Why on EARTH would women put up such a monstrosity? Well, they did, and surprisingly, with great relish. The crinoline, or hooped skirt was actually based on a design from the 1840s. In 1856, the American W.S.Thomson patented the metal cage crinoline and it became a huge hit in the USA, France and Britain. It was the first fashion to encompass all classes - rich or poor, you could still afford to wear it.

Although we find it hard to believe, women really loved the cage crinoline. At the height of its popularity, enough steel was produced in Sheffield to make half a million hoops in one week. It freed women from the constricting 2 petticoats (one flannel, one cotton) they wore and gave them more ability to move their legs. And it was easy to hoick it up at the back when you needed to go to the privy.

1850s crinoline
Crinolines came in a variety of shapes, but they were not especially expensive, retailing at a third of the price of a dress. And if you were a skillful needlewoman - as most young women were in those days, it was easy to transform the style of an existing dress by the addition of a cage.

Spring steel shapes crinolines were light and flexible, and could be pressed out of shape temporarily, a useful attribute when trying to sit down, or get in and out of carriages and buses. Together with the tightly-laced corset, which emphasized a woman's tiny waist, the crinoline gave the wearer a very ''sexy'' shape. This was enhanced by the way women had to walk: placing the foot outwards and describing a semi-circle, which gave a swaying motion to the hips. It was almost impossible to go at speed, so the slow, swaying gait was considered very alluring.

And as you can see from the picture at the top, cages and stays came in very nice colours. In Diamonds & Dust, Josephine King and her fashion mentor Isabella Thorpe visit a big department store, where they are informed by one of the female assistants that: ''We have some delightful articles in scarlet, Mademoiselle ... Zey came in last week, fresh from Par-ee.''   Maybe she was referring to something like this.

However brightly colored and popular, cage crinolines were not all good news however. Sitting down had to be re-learned, and getting through narrow doors or down narrow passageways was a nightmare. And the there was the ever present danger of high winds, which could leave you scrambling to hold your skirt down lest (oh horror!) your drawers were exposed to male passersby. Add to this the danger from open fires and gas lamps and wearing the crinoline could have fatal consequences!

Two fashionable ladies
And however attractive it made you, wearing a crinoline didn't make courtship any easier than it already wasn't. In November 1856, Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine published a poem called 'Crinoliniana' which ended:

I long to clasp thee to my heart
  But all my longings are in vain;
I sit and sigh two yards apart,
   And curse the barriers of thy train.
My fondest hopes I must resign,
   I can't get past that Crinoline!

The crinoline seems a ridiculous item of fashion to us today, but for the Victorians, with their sense of propriety, it was the perfect device to distance a woman, physically and psychologically from her surroundings, from the real world and to preserve her femininity and chastity for her husband. In a sense, it was the real-life equivalent of placing herself upon a pedestal.

If you'd like to download a free sample of Diamonds & Dust, A Victorian Murder Mystery, you can do so by clicking HERE. US readers can do so by clicking HERE.

Friday, 1 August 2014

THIRD Twitter for Fledglings: Content

This is the final blog in a series of short posts written at the request of some fellow Crooked Cat writers to help newbie writers negotiate their way around Twitter. The first post: Setting up your site, can be read HERE. The second post, on Following & Followers can be read HERE.

So, you have set up your Twitter page; you are interacting and acquiring Followers. Now let's look at what your Followers are going to find on your site that will keep them Following, Retweeting & coming back to check you out.

TWO ingredients to a successful Twitter page:


1.Variety If you check out my site @carolJhedges you will see that I have amusing (sic) statements, pictures, the odd YouTube video, posters, LOTS of other people's stuff, links to blogs, mine & other people's, politics etc etc. To stop myself constantly promoing my book, I have it as a Pinned Tweet at the top of my page - click on the  ...  next to the 'dustbin' at the bottom of the Tweet and you'll see instructions.

I get my stuff from Googling it, nicking it off other people's Twitter/FB pages, and a few special sites that I found and am not going to share - sorry. Do your own homework.

I ''Favourite'' everything I think I may like to re-use, which stores it. I aim to change my top 6 Tweets every 3/4 hours because Twitter is a very fast medium and the more Followers you get, the less they will see your stuff. Also, I make sure that everything I want ReTweeted or seen is at the top of my Timeline before I go off Twitter for the night so that anybody kind enough to RT me doesn't have to scroll down to find it.

I do the 80:20 ratio - 80% of what I tweet is other people's stuff, 20% is mine. Obviously, that changes if I have a new book out - though I'd still showcase my close friends' books and blogs.

2.Interaction I aim to be on Twitter four or five times a day for about 25 mins. Of that: 5 mins is spent Following people (see second blog), 15 mins is spent chatting and 5 mins is spent setting up my Twitter page for my next visit. I don't RT every conversation I have - most are of no interest to anybody but the participants. I do RT conversations that I think others might like to read.

Finally, a word about Hootsuite: Every advice post you read on Twitter will tell you to use this app as it allows you to schedule Tweets during the night. Twitter also has a app. Once again, I'm going to run contrary to conventional advice. Don't Bother. Being on Twitter should be an elective choice, not a default setting. Anyway, people like to interact with a Real Person, not an app generated Tweet and they are not going to buy your books if they can't chat to you.

I get robot Tweets promoing books all the time. I always end up Unfollowing the person. The best way to ''sell'' on Twitter is to ''sell'' yourself. My sales come from people who've chatted to me, laughed with, or at me, cried with me and shared their news with me. And surely, that's what Twitter should be all about. And as if you needed proof:

... I've enjoy reading tweets - so I bought one of her books. :-)

So, here we are at the end of our journey. You, the Fledgling have set up an eye-catching Twitter page, loaded it with appetizing content and are engaging with a steady stream of new Followers. My work is done. Time to spread your wings, and fly!

If you have anything helpful to add to the subject of Content, or if I've missed anything glaringly obvious, please feel free to share it ....

Saturday, 26 July 2014

The PINK SOFA welcomes Rosalind Adam

Rosalind Adam is a Twitter friend, fellow blogger, fellow ex-teacher, writer and researcher. She has cats, a great sense of humour and is always there to support and encourage her friends. I am extremely lucky to have met her, and count her as one of my inner circle. So when she announced that she had a new children's book out on Richard the Third, the PINK SOFA, who is in the throes of updating its ''Sofas & Upholstery Through The Ages'' book, insisted she had to pay a visit to the Writing Attic.

''Thank you, Carol, for inviting me onto your squelchy pink sofa. It’s… erm… very pink, isn’t it! And I see you’ve provided a glass of mead to loosen my tongue. *Slurp* Delicious! *hic*

Thank you for your kind words about my new book. I must admit that I’ve had so many positive responses from people since The Children’s Book of Richard III was published but it wasn’t always that way. It is so frustrating that mainstream publishers don’t have the vision to support this kind of project.

When I first had the idea to write a children’s Richard III, I approached the publisher of my Children’s History of Leicester. They couldn’t commit to it. I wrote submissions to all the usual mainstream publishers. Nothing. Even our local literary agent tried but failed to get it placed.

It took the conviction of a children’s bookshop owner, Lynn Moore from The Reading Shop, Oadby, Leicester, to see that this was a highly marketable idea. She put up the money and, in effect, became my publisher. It was the beginning of an excellent business partnership. I settled down to write the book and, being an ex-primary school teacher, I sprinkled in a little science, two sides of an argument, some detective work and I even included a bit of creative writing; a post-battle interview with Leicester’s very own Witch of Daneshill.

Now all I needed was an illustrator and thanks to Twitter I soon found one. Andrea Povey, known on Twitter as @Richard1483, mentioned, during a casual Twitter chat that her daughter, Alice Povey, had recently graduated from university with a degree in illustration, specializing in children’s book illustrations. I knew then that I’d found our illustrator. Isn’t Twitter amazing!

The exciting part of self-publishing was that Alice and myself were free to develop the book in our own way. Lynn took a back seat at this stage, her contribution coming into its own with the checking and proofreading. There were so many things that we had to learn; registering for ISBN numbers, creating the correct number of spreads, liaising with printers, but by far the biggest task is selling and distributing. We made the decision not to put the book on Amazon. I know that a lot of people find Amazon quick and easy to use but Amazon do not offer a fair deal. After working so hard to produce the book why should we let Amazon take the biggest share of the money and leave us with mere pence per book? If everyone accepts Amazon’s terms then, sooner or later, they will destroy all the bookshops, certainly here in the UK, and that would be a truly sad day for us all.

The book is available from The Reading Shop at but, if you would rather not buy online, a friendly salesperson will take your order and arrange for the book to be delivered by ringing 0116 2717077 during working hours.

Ooh! Carol! I see you’ve already got a copy. Hand it over and I’ll sign it for you. Thank you so much for having me on your very pink sofa. There is just one more thing. I hope you don’t mind me asking but have you got any more of this delicious mead? *hic*''

While mead refilling takes place, you can contact Ros via Twitter @RosalindAdam, check out her blog: or befriend her via Facebook.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

More Twitter for Fledglings: Followers & Following

This is the second in a series of occasional short posts in response to requests from some Crooked Cat writers who are about to launch themselves into Twitter or who are finding it a tad perplexing to get to grips with. You can read the first post, Getting Started  here. This week, having got our Twitter page set up and running, we're going to look at how to acquire Followers, and how and who to Follow.

The first thing the fledgling will notice as they step out into Twitter is that everybody else has FAR more Followers than they have. Some have more than the population of a small Middle Eastern country. This can be disconcerting, but do not be discouraged. Many of these people have been on Twitter for years. And they all started out exactly where you are now. So, let's Tweet ...

A Basic Tweet Guaranteed To Get A Response

Morning/Afternoon/Evening + comment on the weather + comment on what you are doing/eating + question about what they are doing/eating.

Within a few seconds, someone will have Tweeted a reply. You then reply back .... and there you are.
Conventional wisdom would now say: FOLLOW THEM. But I am going to go against conventional wisdom. This is my advice - and it applies to everyone who Follows you:


My publisher
Click on their profile pic.
Click on 'Go to full profile' and scroll down at least 18 tweets. Do not follow if:
1.They only tweet links to their own books.
2. They never seem to chat or engage with anybody.
3. They hold extreme views that you do not share.
3. They retweet links to things you may not want to see reappear on your twitter feed or be seen by your potential readers, such as weird stuff/explicit pornography.

Remember, as a writer, you are a ''brand''. If you have a publisher, you are also part of their ''brand''. It is incumbent upon you to ensure that you do not lose your or their 'rep'. If you check my Amazon page you will see that I write mainly teen and YA books. I have a lot of underage kids following me, plus their parents. I therefore have to be careful whom I follow and what I retweet (a future blog). So I don't engage with people whose site content I deem inappropriate, or whose comments I find offensive.

OK, so you've checked them out, and they seem fine. Click on Follow. You can now, if you wish, click on their Followers or Following icons and find other people. The words ''avid reader'' should get your antennae twitching. Remember the 'check them out' procedure and adhere to it. You can also check out Twitter's  'Who To Follow' list on the left of your screen.

For a more specific search, you can go to the 'Search Twitter' box at the top right of your tool bar and find people in your genre. Use a hashtag #. Type #Crime or #YA etc. Do any of these things for 10 minutes every day and you will soon build up a good list.

If/when someone follows back, spend a few seconds acknowledging. Make it personal.
 Thanks + name + liked XXX in your bio + comment about me + question about weather/life/work/part of world they live in.

Finally, there are loads of links and sites on Twitter promising to get you 1000's of followers free or for a small amount of money. Forget it. Do not buy Followers. Ever. Better to build your own list. Your Twitter account,when used correctly will generate its own Followers. Just give it time and work at making it work.

Next post in a few weeks' time will look at varying content, and other ways of connecting with people. Meanwhile if you have anything to add to this specific topic, please share it.