Emily Royalty, Author at Helium Network - Page 3 of 19

Guest post: Sam Connelly on how to utilize Twitter to sell your writing

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Whenever I used to read magazine columns, short stories, greeting card poems etc., I’d almost always hear that little voice somewhere in the back of my mind saying, “I can do this.” It wasn’t until a few years ago, after reading a really great article on coffee that I finally heard another important question to follow up the last one: “How come I’m not selling my work?”

Ok, I’m going to skip that first big step to selling your work (which is the step about moving past the fear of rejection and actually sending your work out) and move to the next big step: How to sell yourself by using your social media platforms.

Twitter offers amazing opportunities for writers today. It was only five years ago that I decided to sign up for a Twitter account and I told my wife, “Ha! Twitter can’t possibly last long, it’s useless.” Now, five years later, and about 15,000 follower/friends between my social medias, (9,000 on Twitter) and 60,000 subscribers to my blogs and columns, I’ve discovered that by understanding how to connect with the right people, you can increase your sales exponentially.

The Social Media Golden Rule (my golden rule, of course): Get your story to those who have been waiting for it.

Social Media is 100 percent about conversation. There are 900 million streams of conversation happening at almost any given time. A huge portion of those conversations are looking for your story, so your goal is to find those streams and let them know you’re here.

1. Follow Strategically

It’s easy to just start following your favorite celebrities and entertainment gossip groups, but don’t waste your time. Look up publishers, editors, literary agents, writing organizations, writing resource groups (like Helium). Several short stories and articles I’ve sold in the last two years were sold because of Twitter.

A secret I discovered (not really a secret but many writers don’t think about) most of the great literary agents, publishers, and editors that you look through the Writer’s Market  guides to find and submit to, are on Twitter and you can connect with them personally. This is how I sold several shorts. I researched the editors in my Market Guides, then I researched them on Twitter, found them, started conversation, got them interested in me and that was it.

Research your target audience:

Look up words like; Writing, Writers, Write, Freelance, Freelancers, Journalism, Submissions, Editor, Publish, Publishers, Poets, Greeting Cards, Literary Agents. Also target specific markets that you are interested in already. Then check out the people that they follow and see who’s similar to you, follow them.

2. Researching Your Conversation: The Hashtag ‘#’

The hashtag (#) is an incredible tool. People will tell you the rules for using it but as a writer you get to think outside the box and find ways to make it work for you and your specific needs. The coolest thing about using the # is that you get instant access to any conversation stream you can think of.

When a client seeks to hire me to create “chatter” about their book, film, business, event, etc. the first thing I do before accepting the project is make sure that I can find 100 streams of conversation that I can start tapping into. I’m working with an amazing filmmaker right now on an amazing documentary.

When I got the package from him in the mail I read over the synopsis, fund proposal, and other materials. Then I went to my dry erase board, wrote the film’s title in the middle and started mind-mapping every #Word I could think of that represented active conversations about the film and subject. Within 30 minutes I had my first 100 hundred potential conversation streams written down. Two hours later I had a list of 200 confirmed streams picked out. So I emailed him, shared the news, and I wrote down the date that I could start breaking into those conversations. (More on this in a bit)

Start with a mind map. Place the word ‘ME’ right in the middle and then draw a line leading away from ‘ME’ and write a word that relates to your work, like ‘#Fiction’. Add the hashtag #. Then go back to, ‘ME’ and draw another line and another word. Do this repeatedly until you have a good 50 to 100 words.

Example: As a short fiction writer you may have words like;

#ShortStories, #Fiction, #Writers, #Scifi, #Mystery, #Horror, #Thriller, #SubmitShorts, #ShortFic, #Fantasy #FicSubmit #Submissions #WritersSubmit #Literay #LitJournals #LiteraryJournal #FictionMagazine

3. Hopping in the ‘Stream’

This is the easiest and most fun of all the steps. Take one of your conversational words and pop it into the search bar and you instantly have access to every conversation where that word is used. Spend some time browsing the conversations.  Find the ones that speak to you and relate to your work. Start chatting and follow those who are likely to be interested in your conversation. Introduce yourself properly, as a writer.

Try to tweet a least 3 or 4 times a week just sharing a little about what you’re working on, any highlights, interesting facts your writing habits, and make sure to # relevant words like #Writer #WritersLife #Novelist etc.  It’ll take a little bit of time to get use to the lingo but once you do, and once you find how to tap into the right streams of conversation it’ll be well worth it. Remember to have fun.


Sam Connelly is writer and blogger. He also started a new Twitter-based entertainment business called Filmmaker In The Cloud(TM) Live Chats, which uses Twitter as a platform for fans to ask questions while he hosts chats with filmmakers and actor. He has been hired by several businesses and organizations to train their marketing and social outreach teams to do this. Sam also has several syndicated blogs:


MyMistressMuse : Fictional Blog about the relationship between The Writer & the Muse

SamuelConnelly is: TastingThePlanet:  Coffeehouse Travel blog – which has been bought by the Travel Channel and is being turned into a show by the same name.

His new Facebook page, Rise Of The Writers, is all about encouraging writers who have stopped writing or stopped submitting – because they have lost faith in themselves — to start writing again. 

Find Sam on Twitter at:





Guest post: Author Arlene Lagos shares her NaNoWriMo 2013 success story

Posted by | Guest Blog, Novel Excerpts, Writing | 3 Comments

The first time I ever attempted NaNoWriMo was in 2011. I had wanted to write “Butterflies Wake” since I initially conceived the idea for it in 2010. It was originally designed to be a television pilot but since I didn’t have the funds to film a 45 minute pilot it became a 20 minute short film instead. But it needed a lot of work. The dialogue was lame and the characters not as developed as I would have liked, not to mention I needed more sub-plot. A friend said to me, “Why don’t you write it as a novel?” This is something I had never done before. I’d written poetry, screenplays, and stage-plays but never a novel! Every time I looked at my notes and my dialogue I became overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of it and pushed it to the side. The idea of it was just too much; I wasn’t ready to tackle the project.

My husband handed me an article about NaNoWriMo and I thought, what a great idea! I’m going to try this! But not with “Butterflies Wake”; I still wasn’t ready. So instead, I started writing a science-fiction fantasy story called “Verum: Truth.” I had no thought of what I was going to do with it after, I just welcomed the challenge of seeing if I could write that many words in 30 days and to my surprise, the book poured right out of me. Since then, it has been renamed, published and followed by two more books better known by my readers as the Beyond Earth series.

Over the past two years I edited and published book I and II of the series and also became part of a wonderful writers group that I found on LinkedIn called Writers 750. Joining this group was a real turning point in my writing career. Each month, the members were given a theme, a setting and a few highlights, then asked to include them in a story of no more than 750 words.

Month after month I found myself looking forward to writing these stories as well as reading everyone else’s. What I learned in the past two years of writing short stories is how to self-edit. When you are given a set word count to meet and you have a huge idea in your head, then find yourself mid-way through your idea but well past 1,300 words, you realize that you have to cut down, take out, and eliminate the waste. To me, the ideas and creativity were never an issue, it was learning how to clean it up, make it neat and edit out the unnecessary verbiage.  So here I was with 12 of my short stories published in the Giant Tales anthology and my first book, “Beyond Earth” doing very well. I had finished the final book of the series and felt I was ready to tackle “Butterflies Wake.” So November 2013 came and I rolled up my sleeves and committed to writing it.

“Butterflies Wake” is a story about an underground female mafia; a group of vigilante women that has been growing for many years and is starting to surface. They keep a low profile but their actions are strong. They right the wrongs of society, leaving no stone unturned and take matters into their own hands where the justice system has failed.

It was time for “Butterflies Wake.” It needed to be written. But I knew this was going to be one of the biggest challenges I’d ever undergone. Not just because the story itself was big, but because November 2013 was a crazy month in general for me. I had to buy a new car because mine died and I was stranded. I was scurrying to get my daughter to and from school and my husband and I to and from work. We also moved the week before Thanksgiving and I started a new job. How was I going to write 50,000 words in 30 days and do all that too? It felt impossible, but I wasn’t going to give up without a fight.

I made it a top priority. I sat down with my husband and my seven-year old daughter and told them that I needed to do this and they promised to give me the space I needed. The NaNoWriMo website was so helpful with the pep talks and I become almost obsessed with updating my word count. It was like a mental race with each new day’s word count being a huge obstacle I needed to jump over. When moving day came, I lost two days and had to up my daily word count to almost 3,000 words a day. I began posting my word count on Facebook and asked my friends to cheer me on, which they did enthusiastically!  Knowing that all my friends were rooting for me, telling me I could do it, left me with no chance but to not let them, my family or myself down.

One of the hardest things to do during NaNoWriMo is not edit. I learned in 2011 that there is a difference between writing and editing and personally, I don’t think it’s a good idea to try and wear both hats at the same time, which is what I think is so wonderful about NaNoWriMo. For me, NaNoWriMo is a chance to have free association of your idea. It allows you to just write without care, let it all spill out. As hard as it is to stop yourself from going back and editing, don’t do it! Just write, let the creativity flow through your fingertips and create a solid story line. You have all the time in the world after November to pick it apart. But for 30 days you can just write. Ahh…there is nothing quite like it. It’s almost like being able to be out with hundreds of people and not be interrupted once. It is about letting a stream of consciousness continue out of you without stopping; it is pure bliss. Then suddenly…it’s over.

When they talk about the hangover people get after NaNoWriMo, they are not kidding!  When one is so fully immersed in writing almost 2,000 words a day for 30 days and then…nothing, it’s mind-blowing. It feels like suddenly you don’t know what to do with yourself and for some reason, the last thing you want to do is look at your novel for a while. I haven’t looked at it since November 30 and I’m not going to until after New Year’s. I became so immersed with my characters that I began dreaming about them. It sounds crazy but if you can, just imagine what it’s like having all those personality types in your head at once! There’s a reason why they say writers are crazy; we have full conversations with people that we create out of thin air! I remember one time talking with my husband about what he thought one of my characters would do in a specific situation and my daughter kept asking me who we were talking about. She must have thought we were nuts!

I would not be the writer I am today without NaNoWriMo and as soon as I get through Christmas, I’m going to donate some money to their cause because it is a worthy one. What they are doing for writers of all ages is truly inspirational and an enormous feat. I applaud each and every volunteer at the organization and I applaud each and every person that attempts NaNoWriMo, whether they reached their word count or not. Writing is cathartic for me and I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t write. Take my house, take my car, take my job, but please don’t take my thoughts away!


Arlene Lagos, a native of Massachusetts, has written poetry, stage plays, screen plays and short stories for over 20 years. She launched book I of her series, “Beyond Earth” in June 2013 and just released book II, “Beyond Planets” in October. She is hoping to release the final book of the series, “Beyond Time” in January 2014.

Lagos also has several award-winning short stories coming out in three separate anthologies through her Writers 750 group. Over 15 authors from around the world including herself have contributed to the anthologies, “Giant Tales Beyond The Mystic Doors”  as well  as “Giant Tales From The Misty Swamp,” which are both now available on Amazon.com. “Giant Tales Down in the World of Pirates” is due to be out this winter 2014.

Currently, Lagos is converting her short film, “Butterflies Wake” into a novel set to be released in 2014.

Lagos currently resides in Massachusetts with her husband and their daughter.

You can find more information about “Butterflies Wake,” the Beyond Earth series, and the Giant Tales short story anthologies on Arlene’s blog or on the Facebook pages for the Beyond Earth series and Butterflies Wake. You can also follow Arlene on Twitter at @arlenelagos or @BeyondEarth_.


Guest post: Write as though you are giving a gift by Sarah Selecky

Posted by | Guest Blog, Motivation | No Comments

Consider the last time you wrote a real letter.

You’re away on holiday, and the slower pace gives you some much-needed perspective. One night, a memory of your friend William floats to your mind. You haven’t connected with him for months, so you make time the next day, walk to the local internet café, and send him an email. The email is a proper letter: You include some notes about the bed and breakfast where you’re staying, a funny story about the band at the restaurant last night, and you write about how it feels to have this time away from work. You look at the corner of your computer screen, and see that 45 minutes have passed already.

You and Jess used to live across the street from each other, but she moved to the other coast, and now the time difference makes phone calls difficult to organize. You think of her all the time, and wish she could know the daily details of your life again, and vice versa. But you’ve become so busy, caught up in the business of life, that you missed her birthday this year. So on the weekend you find a beautiful card from a local art store. You include belated birthday wishes, and some news of the day. You fill up both sides of the card and then write on the back of it. You reach the bottom of the card but you’re in the middle of a story, so you grab a piece of paper, whatever you’ve got, and you keep writing. It feels like you’re talking to Jess – there’s always more to say – so you grab another piece of paper and keep going.

Whatever the reason for the correspondence, when you write a letter, it goes like this: You picture your friend in your mind, and then you simply want to connect.

You aren’t thinking about the literary quality of your sentences (although it feels good to craft them to sound just right, and you may even enjoy pausing to reread them yourself). When you are writing the letter, you are thinking about your friend.

In fact, you write with ease, grace, and humor – your voice as a writer, freed from expectation, ego, and fear of failure, is able to be itself.

Then it’s time for you go to your desk to work on your fiction (or whatever it is you’re working on). You get your special notebook, your talismanic Annie Dillard, your cup of tea. You tell yourself, “It’s time to write.” And all of a sudden it’s so difficult.

Why make it so hard? Writing can be easy and fun for you: You know that, because when you’ve written letters, you have lost time and run out of paper as you wrote them. But when it comes to something that you think needs to be “successful” in some way, it makes writing less appealing than cleaning the algae out of your fish tank.

Okay, so what if you made a conscious decision to cultivate the elements of letter writing in your creative writing? Here’s how:

1. Feel happy that you are about to sit down and write.

Don’t go to your writing feeling grim or scared. Think about the headspace you want to be in when you write a birthday letter or a thank you note. You feel grateful, you feel generous! It should be no different with your creative writing. Start with those kinds of feelings before you sit down to write. This alone will make an enormous difference.

Like all brain neuron pathway reconstruction projects, this takes a bit of practice and repetition, but you can change the way you think.

2. Make your writing place feel special.

A “special” place can actually be anywhere. You can write a letter in a café, at the kitchen table, or on your lap at the train station: It is your focus and intention that turns any space into a special space when you’re writing a letter. So just sit down, wherever you are. Don’t be precious about waiting to have the perfect desk. You make the space special by eliminating distraction, and slowing down so you feel some connection before you start.

3. Write by hand.

I know: It’s messy, and it takes a longer. A whole page of handwriting only comes to about half a page of typing once you transcribe it. Handwriting can look sloppy and unclear. And an hour’s worth of scribbling on a page in blue ink doesn’t hold nearly the same crispness and efficacy of a double-spaced page of sentences set in Times New Roman. And yet…

This is why you write a letter by hand: Handwriting feels more real. It’s more important, and it’s more special. If you want to develop a healthy relationship with your writing, if you want your writing to know that you think it’s real, important and special, then you write it by hand. It doesn’t matter that it takes more time, or that it’s inconvenient — when you love something, you write it by hand.

Besides, it’s too easy to edit yourself brutally when you’re typing on a screen.

4. Write as though you’re giving a gift.

This, more than anything, is what makes a letter a letter. There’s no goal in mind – you’re not trying to get anything out of it. You’re certainly not writing it for The New Yorker. You’re writing it as a gift from you to the person you want to connect with. The writing is a pleasure because it’s something you’re giving away, like a birthday present. Slowing down to write the details of a story is a gift that can feel good for both writer and reader. Get your ego out of the way by remembering how it feels to write out of generosity.

5. Be honest and be kind when you write.

A good letter is not about upstaging, pretension, or trying too hard. It’s about you being you, and putting yourself on the page with as much transparency as possible. Write unapologetically with your authentic voice, however it feels that day. Whatever energy you like to bring to your letter writing, you can bring this to your page.

6. Enjoy the absence of criticism.

Your inner critic lives on your fear. When you infuse your writing time with kindness and honesty, you dissolve your inner critic! Bonus.

When you’re at your writing desk, decide to cultivate feelings other than fear. You can do this – remember, your fear is a thought, and you can change your thoughts. So instead of focusing on feeling your resistance, decide to focus on writing with other emotions. This is why it helps to think of how you would want to write a letter.

Get quiet so you can locate the fear in your head. Then look past it, and find the other emotions that are also there.

Aha! There they are.

Now write: With gratitude, humour, suspense, lightness, excitement, or love.

Sarah Selecky earned her MFA in creative writing from the University of British Columbia, and her writing has appeared in the top Canadian magazines and quarterlies such as The Walrus, The New Quarterly, and The Journey Prize Anthology, among many others. This Cake Is for the Party is her first book, which was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize for Best First Book, and longlisted for the Frank O’Connor Short Story Award. She is also the creator of the groundbreaking online writing program, Story Is a State of Mind. She divides her time between Toronto and the rest of the world. You can find Sarah at www.sarahselecky.com and on Twitter @sarahselecky.

Mega links: The Jane Austen game, publishing fears and what readers are reading

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Jane Austen: The game

The world of online gaming has just become even more exciting for literature lovers. Enter “Ever Jane,” the new massive online role playing game based on the world of Jane Austen’s novels. The strategic game is set in Regency England, and ever better, the prototype is free to play! Learn more about this new online game, where your social status could make or break you.

Overcoming the fear of publishing

Making the decision to publish your work is not always easy. It can be scary to open yourself up by putting your work out into the universe. The fear of rejection or negative feedback can often be overwhelming. However, as a writer, publishing your work is an important step, no matter how intimidating it might seem. Check out this post on how one author overcame her fear of publishing and why she’s glad she did.

Remaining true to your voice vs. catering to your audience

It’s one of the longest standing debates of the writing world. Which is more important: Catering to yourself or to your audience? We love bringing you tips from the great names of the writing industry. Here they are once again, offering you advice on whether to remain true to your own voice or to cater to your audience.

In the news: What are we reading these days?

Speaking of catering to your readers, you’ll want to read this article all about what trends in literature show about our reading habits. For the last 20 years, USA Today has been publishing lists of the year’s 20 top bestselling books. Read about how the trends have changed and what readers are picking off bookshelves (or downloading to their Kindles).

Getting readers to your book launch

Self-publishing is the avenue that many writers are pursuing these days, but it’s not without its own unique challenges. One of those challenges is that the marketing of your book falls entirely into your own lap. Many, if not most, writers choose to host a book launch party. You’ve got the hors d’oeuvres, you’ve got the 100 copies. But how do you get readers there? Check out this article to learn tips on how to get attendees to your book launch party.

Ramona Taylor on getting your screenplay produced

Posted by | Guest Blog, Uncategorized | No Comments


The challenge for every screenwriter is getting their work recognized and translated into some cinematic form. Tens of thousands of films are produced each year and at the heart of each of these cinematic works is a screenplay. Still, a majority of screenwriters struggle with getting their works produced. Many times the issue is not whether a story is good, but more whether the story can be made and by whom it will be made.

The screenwriter’s reality is that their screenplay is just words on a page until his or her writing becomes a produced film. Given the advent of DSLR cameras, growing numbers of film schools, and so many hungry actors, screenwriters are in the good position to have their works produced; however, because of these same factors, chances are that a screenwriter will have to create their own opportunities to get their work translated into a film. And knowing how to seize these reel opportunities may require a bit of work.

One of the first things a screenwriter needs to realize is that Hollywood is not the only spot that makes films. Each state has a hub of film activity. Once you locate that center of films for your area, check film hotlines and notices for opportunities for screenwriters.

Many film school students, business people, musicians, and independent directors seek out screenwriters to capture their ideas into a written form. This is one of the more popular, and expedient, ways for writers to get their work produced. Requests for everything from music video concepts, short films, educational videos and even features can be found through local film office sites, film job boards, and even Craigslist postings.

Another production avenue for screenwriters includes getting connected to a production group. There are a number of small to medium-sized independent production companies. And, these companies are always looking for their next big project. Some have clients who want to invest in films and others have budgets set aside for film projects. These companies will post on various local and national sites, such as mandy.com or International Screenwriters Association listings for writing jobs/gigs. These listings explain timeframes for the production of projects.

Still, writers have an additional way to get their work produced through some screenwriting contests. Sites such as MovieBytes often list contests that promise or provide film production as a prize. These contests include, but are not limited to, YouPix.org, Fresh Voices Original Screenplay Competition, and BIFF Screenplay to Production.

For those screenwriters who also want to be filmmakers, still, another production option is available. The screenwriter can actually film his or her own scripts, teleplays, and screenplays. Film festivals and television channels are filled of films and shows produced by screenwriters. Often, producing one’s own work, a writer can hire crew or rely on willing and devoted friends. In addition, an adequate camera and video editing software is all that is needed after that.

Regardless of the avenue, one of the greatest feelings for a screenwriter is to get their written work on television, computer or film screen. And, time from writing to finished film can be as quick as a few hours to several months.  With the possibility of having film students, independent directors, businesses and friends helping the writer, getting a screenplay produced has become easier through technology and writers are not prejudiced by living outside of California or not being directly connected to the larger film industry.

Ramona Taylor is a professional journalist and a produced screenwriter.