Monday, May 20, 2013

To Tweet Or Not To Tweet...


While I was at the Storymakers conference in Utah last weekend, I took a Twitter basics class from @jaimetheler (Jaime Theler). I didn't know all the things that I didn't know about the Twitter:
  • It's for cool people now
  • Hashtags are #awesome
  • For some people its a good thing to be limited to 140 characters per tweet
  • You have access to breaking news in a way never before possible (ex.: if you read the hashtag #Boston right after the Boston marathon, you'd have real-time storytelling from people actually on-site = #prettycool
  • Its a way to connect to writing communities without having to be invited (like the Facebook), for ex.: #amwriting #askagent #yakidlitchat #etc
I actually learned much more than this as well, like some Twitter etiquette:
  • Do Not #shamelesslyselfpromoteallthetime (people will unfollow you)
  • Do Not #includemorethanthreehashtagspertweet
  • Do Not #makeuphastagsthatarehardtoread ---I just did that! Ooopsies.

But honestly, I am still on the fence with how involved in the Twitter I want to be. I feel like there is such a steep learning curve, and I've turned into my grandma who proclaimed, "I don't need a darn remote controlly-thingy for my TV. I have two feet and I can walk! Plus the Price is Right is on and why would I want to change that?"

Am I dinosaur, sticking to blogging and Facebook? I know my agent prefers the Twitter. I know smart people like Elana Johnson and James Dashner and Kanye West rock the Twitter world.

What's your opinion? #gottwocents?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Author Pics

Last year, I wrote a blog post about profile pictures and what they say about you as a blogger. I had recently attended a writing conference where an agent spoke about the importance of how we present ourselves. Specifically, this mega-agent said:
  1. Profile pics should be of you. Not Edward Cullen. Despite the fact it might get you more blog traffic.
  2. Profile pics should be professional. Not necessarily taken by a professional, but you looking your best.
  3. They should be head shots, or at least focused on the face. Even if you have really great cleavage.
  4. They should be current. Not you ten years ago when you used to be a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model.
  5. They should represent you as an author. Not you in other mediums. (So if you love riding bulls, don't post a pic of you riding a bull...it's sort of irrelevant. And a weird example too :)>
  6. They should be formatted correctly. Not to big, taking over your whole page, and not too small, making your blog readers squint and zoom to see what you really look like. 
  7. They should be flattering but not self-indulgent. That's what Facebook is for, right?
  8. They should tell the world (readers, agents, editors, friends) that you take this thing seriously. That presentation matters to you. That you understand how you present yourself to the world says something about you. 
Lest I reinvent the wheel (I hate the word "lest"), all these things apply to author photos too. So the gist of the story (I also don't particularly like the word "gist") is to contact Erin Summerill and have her "shoot you," as she says.

But now I need your help. I need to turn in the author photo that is going to be in my book, and several other places associated with the release of my book KILLING RUBY ROSE. Can you help me choose between:
Picture A:

Picture B:

Monday, May 13, 2013

Conferences are Life-Changing


Three years ago I went to my first writing conference: LDS Storymakers 2010 in Provo, Utah. I had been writing for about a year and I'm pretty sure that I read somewhere that writing conferences were good for some reason. Can't remember what that specific reason was, but nonetheless I bought a ticket and made plans to go.

I was nervous about going alone, worried that I wouldn't fit in, unsure about what I was getting myself into, etc. So I convinced a friend from Vegas to go with me. When we sat down on the first day for the opening remarks, a very friendly girl across the table started talking to me (rather loudly). She and her friend wanted to know what my book was about and what genre it was. I think I said something about a girl who saw things and liked a boy who wasn't what he seemed...I was rambling and I looked like a total idiot.

It was classic! I had no idea what I was talking about. I didn't know how to pitch my book, talk about myself, I didn't even know what genre I was writing in. That friendly girl across the table not only ended up becoming my writing partner but one of my best friends. And the girl next to her, who was more mild mannered but equally friendly, is the true north part of our writing trifecta:




The value of conferences is far more important than learning a few tips on craft or the opportunity to meet agents. The decision I made three years ago to attend that conference changed the trajectory of my life. I became a writer surrounded by other writers who taught me how to grow. I am so grateful for Erin and Peggy, and the knowledge, joy and laughter they have brought into my life.

I am also grateful to so many more writing friends I've met along the way. I wish that I could post a picture of the dozens of friends I've met on this writing journey, but I only have a few from this weekend at Storymakers 2013:





Any life-changing conferences out there?

Monday, May 6, 2013

Monday Quickie: Get Your Manuscript "Shelf Ready"

Good Monday to you all! Good enough for another installment of:

The Quickie

This is where I  post a QUICK WRITING TIP. A writing skill everyone should know. Whether it be technical or creative, useful or not, I'm gonna give it to you! You're gonna be daydreaming about cowboy hats and singing the Tim McGraw & Faith Hill song, "Let's Make Love."

Okay, maybe not. Here's the Quickie for today:

GET YOUR MANUSCRIPT SHELF READY!!!

 So what the crap does that mean? Never fear, I got some bullet points for that:
  • Don't query until your MS is polished. Like completely, totally, and obsessively shiny.
  • Don't submit your MS to agents/editors/publishers until your MS has seen many sets of critique partners' and beta readers' eyes.
  • Don't tell yourself, "It's good enough...if I can just land an agent, she will help me get it where it needs to be to sell."
  • Don't ignore your intuition (your internal editor) when it's telling you that your MS needs more work.
  • Do be brutal with yourself. Listen to hard advice, cry over challenging notes from CP's, sweat the hard scenes out, let yourself stay up late at nights once in a while while you work out the kinks.
  • Do be patient. We've all heard the stories of writers snatching up agents and book deals after minimal work. Don't rely on that applying to you.
Now having said that, even after all the hard work you can do on your own and with writing partners, the pros will probably still have a ton of work for you to do to get it "shelf ready" all the way. I revised for over six months before I landed my agent. And then she had me revise with her for nearly four months before we went out on submission. But here's the best part of the story--when I had my first teleconference with my editors they were very complimentary about how polished my MS was. It was "shelf ready" by the time they saw it and that's what made it a quick sell for them.

On another note, who's going to spoon with me at the Storymakers conference this week? I am so excited to see so many of you, I can't stand it!



Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Check Out My New Digs

It's totally me, right? The colors, the sunshine, the beach! I adore it.

My bestie Peggy Eddleman gave me a referral to web designer, book reviewer, blog expert, and all-around genius, Hafsah at Icey Designs (also of Icey Books).  From the day I contacted her for a quote to the day all my stuff went live, she was a dream to work with. She responds to every email I send her within minutes, was patient with me as I tried to express my very un-artistic vision for what I wanted, and above all...SHE'S SO NICE! And affordable, and talented, and totally brilliant. I could go on and on about her. Basically, Hafsah is www.awesome.com.

So she did my blog, my new shiny website (www.jessiehumphries.com where I have way too many pages and information about myself...but that's what authors do--I checked), new Twitter background, a cute little button (--->), new business cards that I will give you when I see you, and other stuff that I've never had before like links and stuff. Hafsah has made me legit.

Quick tip: If anyone is considering getting a website, I would buy your domain name now, even if you won't be getting your site right away. Don't search for your name unless your serious though because I've been told that crooks monitor searches and then buy the ones that have been searched so that when those people want to buy, they have to buy from the crooks for a much higher price. They can do this because it is so cheap. So get get your domain name now!