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01 Jul

Twitter Basics for Writers

In PR/Marketing,Uncategorized by MK England / July 1, 2016 / 0 Comments

(This is about two months overdue, so sorry, y’all, but I got there eventually.)

One of my last acts as a founder and co-leader of the Atlantic County Writers Group in New Jersey was to lead a workshop right before I moved away. We had a great group attend Twitter Basics for Writers back in April, and the attendees requested that I post the slides online for later reference.

twitter selfieAnd I tried. The file was so huge that it gave me troubles uploading it, and then I moved and forgot about it. Of course, it occurred to me yesterday I could have just provided you a link to the google doc all along like a smart person. My bad.

 

 

This workshop was designed for folks who were totally new to twitter, or who had used it a bit but needed some help getting involved in the twitter writing community. It walks you through creating an account (which you can skip if you’ve already gotten that far), developing a twitter brand, and engaging with the writing community, and more. You can view the presentation here, and you can even download a PDF to keep by going to file → download as. Many thanks to the folks who gave permission for me to use screenshots of their twitter bios as examples!

Hope someone out there finds this helpful. If you have questions about using twitter as a writer, feel free to ask in the comments. You can also follow me on twitter @Geektasticlib!

 

19 Sep

NaNoWriMo Printable Tools

In Uncategorized by MK England / September 19, 2015 / 0 Comments

As I’ve mentioned before, I was selected as one of the Municipal Liaisons for National Novel Writing Month, so I’ll be coordinating events for the South Jersey region as well as my own library this year. I wanted to make some fun extras to motivate people to come to write-ins and finish their 50k words, so here they are: a NaNoBingo card with various challenges to complete, and a Frequent Writer Card that wrimos get stamped or stickered at events they attend.

If you need editable versions of any of these documents, let me know in the comments and I’ll get you an Illustrator (.ai) file. Please feel free to print these out and use them at your own events, though I’d prefer it if you could leave the credit line in.

NaNoBingo Card

Frequent Writer Card

The FWC currently has six spaces, which could be filled if a wrimo went to one write-in per week, plus the kickoff and TGIO parties. Regions with particularly ambitious wrimos may wish to edit to add more spots.

For prizes, I’m using my library’s button maker to make 1.5″ pinback buttons that are South Jersey-themed. Check your local library to see if they have a makerspace or equipment check out—you may be able to do the same!

Happy novel planning, wrimos! See you in November.

hobbit gif

24 Aug

#PitchWars Mentee Bio

In Uncategorized by MK England / August 24, 2015 / 0 Comments

Okay, Imma do the thing!

This year I’m participating in #PitchWars, a contest for unpublished, un-agented writers with a complete and polished manuscript to share with the world. You can learn more about it here. Everyone who’s submitted is going mad waiting for September 2nd, the day we find out if we were selected by a mentor, so to distract ourselves a bunch of us are doing the #PimpMyBio Contestant Blog Hop. My official website bio is over here, but I think I can elaborate on that in gif form. Yessss.

I wasn’t even going to enter Pitch Wars. I had already started querying my manuscript, though I’d only sent a few, and figured I’d just continue with that. But the awesome Mara Fitzgerald (beta reader extraordinaire, #PitchWars alternate last year, and now agented YA writer) made lots of convincing noises and I decided to throw my hat in the ring.

Then I dragged my amazing-lovely-outstanding critique partner and writing wife Lisen Minetti into the fray.

I’ll just quote her: “Megan and I work well as crit partners because we are super awesome nerds outside of writing. We go to conventions together, have family game night together, drink beer around campfires together, go out to eat together, run a writing group together, buy the same car on the same day together. Basically we’re married. Just ask our husbands.” She’s fantastic and I love her and you can’t have her … but you can have her MG supernatural mystery manuscript!

I’m a YA librarian. I spend my day planning programs for teens, buying teen fic/nonfic/graphic novels/manga for the collection, coordinating our volunteer program, doing community outreach, helping kids of all ages learn to use computers, and much more behind-the-scenes boring stuff (budgeting, policy, security, etc.). I love my job and the teens I work with every day!

I’ve been an enormous nerd since forever and I love it. I’m a Ravenclaw. I play video and tabletop games (including tabletop RPGs), I cosplay, read and write fanfiction, go to conventions, consume anything sci-fi/fantasy … I do it all. My first-ever fandom was Farscape back in 1999, and it taught me what it meant to be part of a fan community. I love adventure, out-there humor, big damn heroes, fantastical powers—I want books that make me feel like I can take on the world. I also demand diversity, and am especially particular about gender and sexuality. I’m bi and genderqueer and 100% over narratives with nothing but straight white cis dudes in them.

(and I swear BBC Sherlock is not one of those. the subtext is there. the truth will be revealed. trust.)

Some random favorite things: Guardians of the Galaxy, Young Avengers, Ms. Marvel, The Fifth Element, Avatar: The Last Airbender/Legend of Korra, Babylon 5, Firefly, Stargate: SG-1/Atlantis, Warehouse 13, and my Top 25 Books. I’ve been a Star Wars fan since forever. My parents’ first date was to see A New Hope in 1977. It’s in my blood.

And, uh. BBC Sherlock. Just in case that wasn’t obvious. We can’t talk about it. I have no chill.

Let’s end with two random facts. Because why not? I am a complete and utter tea addict. Seriously, I have a problem. I spend way too much money at Adagio Teas, especially in their Fandom Blends section. I drink hot tea year-round no matter the temperature, and typically down several cups per day. I have it bad.

I’m also a dog person. I have two dogs who are extremely smelly and irritating and adorable. Don’t even try to disagree.

So, that’s it. That’s me. My manuscript is a YA Space Opera called Space Academy Rejects, and I freaking love it, okay? Also, to all you #PitchWars mentors and organizers out there? I think you’re …

Check out the rest of the mentee bios here!

17 Mar

Ctrl+F Editing

In Uncategorized by MK England / March 17, 2015 / 0 Comments

john typingLast week, my awesome critique partner Lisen Minetti posted about whittling down the insignificant words during the editing process. You should read what she has to say; it’s delightfully cheeky. She’s been indulging in a technique I like to call “Ctrl+F editing”–using the find feature of your writing software of choice, usually accessed by the hotkey combo control+F (command+F on a mac). This is my favorite editing technique for making quick and efficient work of bad habit words and red flags.

I have two Ctrl+F lists: a general one I use for every novel, and one specific to my current work in progress. My current WIP list has a lot of bad habits I tend to fall into specifically when writing in first person, present tense, so they’ll be getting their own post soon. In the meantime, here’s my general Ctrl+F list for your novel-dissecting pleasure. Get out your red pens, scalpels, and chainsaws as necessary.

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That – “That” is an evil word. It sneaks in EVERYWHERE. I’ve already resisted typing “that” in this blog post about five times. Lisen’s post has several good examples. This is one of my biggest bad habits. Kill it. Kill it with fire.

Just – Another word that wants to be everywhere. We use this word a lot colloquially, so it may have a place in dialogue, but cut it from your narrative whenever possible.

@ – This one might seem strange to you, but it makes sense, I swear. @ is my universal signifier for “there’s something you need to fix here”. When I’m drafting, I’ll often put @DETAIL HERE or @FIX LATER when I don’t want to lose my momentum by stopping to research something, or @NAME when I can’t think of a good name on the spot. The @ symbol rarely occurs in fiction writing unless you’re including a lot of e-mail communication in your story, so it’s a perfect candidate for Ctrl+F editing. Any rarely-used symbol will do.

It – Obviously “it” will need to be used occasionally, but it’s always good to double-check each usage to make sure it’s entirely clear what “it” refers to.

Started/Began – Usually a red flag for lazy writing. Reserve this for when an action begins suddenly, interrupts another action, or when the “starting” of the action is otherwise notable in some way. Otherwise, there’s no reason to “start to start”–just let your actions happen! Describe what’s going on.

Really/Very/Extremely/etc. – These are empty modifiers. I’ve beaten this habit out of myself, so I rarely find them in my own fiction writing outside of dialogue. I’m sure they’re all over the place in these blog posts, though.

There is/are/were/was – Watch out for all those forms of the verb “to be”. They’re often an indicator of telling instead of showing or passive voice, both of which can be problems. Anytime you see this in your writing, ask yourself if the sentence could be stronger, more descriptive, or more active.

Suddenly – I must love it when things happen unexpectedly, because I use this word way. Too. Much. The intensity of the word is diminished with each usage. Be sparing, and whenever possible make your “suddenly” apparent through jarring transitions, paragraph breaks, and em-dashes instead. Much more dramatic.

-ly – Words ending in -ly are adverbs, and everyone has an opinion on them. Here’s mine: adverbs are lazy and unnecessary about 95% of the time. Once in a while I like to throw one in where I think it adds to the voice, but most adverbs can be cut and replaced with more descriptive language.

Filter Phrases – I’ll be talking about this one extensively in a post later this week, so for now I’ll leave you with a link to this article by Chuck Palaniuk.

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Later this week I’ll post my list for my current work-in-progress, Space Academy Rejects, with some helpful notes on how to not write like I did during that first draft.

Learn from my horrific mistakes, creatures. Ctrl+F is your weapon. Use it. Be ruthless!

Got any other words or phrases that lend themselves well to Ctrl+F editing? Please share them in the comments!

FURTHER READING:
Chuck Wendig — Edit Your Shit, Part One: The Copy-Edit
297 Flabby Words and Phrases That Rob Your Writing of All Its Power