How to Properly Use Hashtags as an Author

I remember the day my life as an author totally changed in an irrevocable way. It was as if the sun had suddenly burst through the clouds and I could see what I’d been missing all those years.

It was the day I first discovered what a hashtag is. 

For years I’d had a difficult time figuring out how to keep track of my writing. Since I write long novels I was always losing my thoughts and ideas in the throes of a thousand delightfully written pages.

You know the struggle:
*What’s the name of the main character’s mother’s grandma’s first car that was stolen in 1963?
*Did the best friend want to be a fabric designer or owner of a ceramics factory when she grew up?
*Is the dog a Border Collie or Basset Hound?

Every author on planet earth has a hard time remembering these small (but incredibly important) details from time to time. I’ll admit that I probably had a harder time than most people, probably because I like to have complex characters and so, therefore, I had lots of little details to make them feel more realistic. (I mean, come on. Nothing screams The author really did a lot of work creating these characters! like reciting all the names of the main character’s friends from first grade. And, if you’re extra cool – like me – you’ll even include middle names. Just a word of caution: Don’t listen to the naysayers who tell you that kind of info isn’t important and bogs the story down. They’re just jealous that they aren’t willing to put as much work into their own character’s backstory.)

But back to the hashtagging.

Apparently, people use hashtags as a way to keep things categorized and therefore easy to find. (Look at techy little me! I even took a screenshot of an explanation so you could see it for yourself.)

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After I discovered that, I began using hashtags in all of my writing. Like, ALL of it. #WayCoolIdea As it turns out a lot of people don’t even know what hashtags are, because I received a couple emails back from publishers I’d been asking to publish my book, and they were like “No thank you, and in the future if you’d like to appear professional, you might want to refrain from using hashtags in emails.” Which of course shocked me, because #HashtagsAreTools and #HashtagsRock so I emailed them back and offered to teach them out to use hashtags properly, and can you imagine? They never even replied to my (very nicely worded) email. #Rude

Not that I’m worried though. I’m the one who will have the last laugh because I’ve got approximately 12,540 (okay, yeah, I counted) hashtags in my newly finished, thousand-page, handwritten manuscript which is going to make editing a total breeze.

That is if my Google searches ever decide to show up helpful information.

#DontTellMeHashtagsDontWorkOnPaper
#PleaseWork
#AllThisWorkForNothing
#HashtagsDontDoThisToMe
#WhatIsThePointOfAHashtag
#OkayThenBeThatWay
#HashtagsAreLame

– – – –
So, if y’all didn’t gather this, today’s blog post was written in jest.
#IHopeYouEnjoyed #WelcomeToMySenseOfHumor #PleaseLeaveAComment #ByeForNow #ThisHasGotToStop #Wow

10 Things To Do When You Have Writers Block

Writer’s Block. Are there any more common words in the writing world? Today I’m writing a list of ten things to do when you have writer’s block. Because #WritersBlockDoesntRock

  1. Google “Writer’s Block” and then read the posts that assure you that all though this is a common malady, it doesn’t have to be debilitating for long
  2. Clean your office
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  3. Find some epic music and challenge yourself to a dance-off
  4. Beg someone to let you mow their yard, and then zone out while getting that mowing done
  5. Make delicious food (preferably of the healthy variety)
  6. Write something witty on Twitter and then laugh at yourself and whatever hashtags you used (For examples: #AmWriting #AmEditing #WillStopProcrastinatingSoon)
  7. Sprinkle glitter around your writing area and imagine its Imagination exploding around you
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  8. Read a book to inspire you (PEOPLE! I have you covered with this one. Do you ever dream of getting new books for free? Today your dreams come true. #Yay I’m sending out my newest ebook, Where Dandelions Grow free in exchange for review. You can sign up here. #GoodIdeaRightThere #ThankYou)
  9. Throw some things in a backpack and head out into the wilderness where you learn how to start a fire with flint and steel
  10. Line up your cute little stuffed animals and think of all the stories you read during your childhood that involved talking creaturesIMG_7896

Oh, wait. Were y’all expecting me to give hints about how to get over writer’s block? #oops If that’s what you’re looking for, here’s what I have to say: Surround yourself with every ounce of creativity you can collect, bask in it, then sit down and make yourself write, even if it’s junk.

Don’t listen to logic. Don’t listen to feelings. Instead set a word goal and write until you hit it. Don’t go back and edit. Don’t worry about if it makes any sense. Continue these sessions until your writer’s block has abated. Then you can go back to worth-while writing.

What about you? Which of the above suggestions sounds the best to you? I’m partial to #9, although I’ve never actually tried it…. #shhh

Tried and True Process For Writing a Great Book

My writing process generally looks something like this:

  1. Muse over a story idea for endless hours while cutting grass, cooking, driving, sleeping (or trying to, anyway), walking, brushing teeth, reading other books, and pretty much anything else that involves breathing
  2. Sit down to write it, then freak out because I remember that plots are delightfully confusing things to put on to paper (Because apparently saying “And then the main character somehow solves the mystery and is heralded by her brothers as being brilliant” isn’t considered a proper plotline)
  3. Frantically pull out my plot-writing books, read them, then Google “how to write a plot for ___________ type of book.” Make decaf coffee to sip (aka gulp) while reading (aka zoning out and eyes glazing over) the articles that pop up
  4. Realize that the step I’m really supposed to be on is Brainstorming
  5. Light my candle, then chew the matchstick to splinters as I jot down bunches of random ideas (on computer and paper, cause I’m amazing like that)
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  6. Decide to have a go at the plot again – this time following Angela Hunt’s The Plot Skeleton (for simplicities sake). Because I’m cool, I use my small whiteboard to jot down the various elements of what the plot’s supposed to look like
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  7. Begin plotting like a pro, and maybe do a happy dance when I come up with the perfect villain
  8. Discover the bottom of my coffee cup looks like the sediment of a swamp, and that the texture of coffee grounds is actually enjoyable to chew, although I do begin to wonder about my coffee making skills
  9. Realize that you need to brainstorm some more, and cutting grass is legit the perfect place to brainstorm. Sigh over the fact that you’ve already cut a lot of the grass, but head out anyway, scrap paper and pen in hand
  10. Get great ideas, return to the writing table raring to go… to Pinterest where I find the perfect picture for each of my main characters (and maybe some of the non-main-characters, too – we really don’t want to leave anyone out)
  11. Type out several more plot points, then the perfect opening line pops into my mind, so I slip over and begin writing the actual book #finally #yay #LookIReallyAmAWriter
  12. Get so excited about being a pro at this whole writing business that I decide to tweet a pic of my writing setup. Only, after I take the picture I freak out because as it turns out, my writing table is a grand disaster
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  13. Spend ten minutes frantically cleaning my writing table (which mostly involves stacking everything just out of the camera’s view), looking through my camera every two minutes to see what else needs to be moved. (Optional: Add stars and rays of light to the picture to make it look like something utterly amazing)
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  14. Take picture, get two likes, feel like a legit pro
  15. Realize it’s time to go make supper, consider taking my computer with me since I’m in such a good writing rhythm
  16. Write frantically for twenty minutes after supper and text a couple of friends about the great progress I’ve made
  17. Fall into bed (well, I actually sleep on the floor, but saying “fall onto the floor” just doesn’t have the same ring to it), ready to begin the process all over again the next day

And there you have it, folks. A fool-proof way to write a fantastic book.

Creating Characters That Don’t Blend Together

When I began writing the first version of Echoes when I was in my late teens I wrote over 50,000 words before I realized I had a big, big problem.

The book was told in dual narration between identical twins – and they sounded identical. The chapters switched back and forth between narrators, but if I just randomly started reading somewhere, unless names were used I had no idea who was narrating. Which pretty much means that one of the narrators was completely unnecessary.

I was excited about the premiss of the book, but I was able to take a step back and realize that my writing experience wasn’t equal to the plot in front of me. So I set the book aside for several years as I worked on learning the craft of writing better, and came up with some pretty cool plot twists.

In November of 2015 I was able to write Echoes again, and this time the identical twins were still twin-ish, but they are unique. Now when I open the book at a random place I can tell which one is narrating within a sentence or two of reading. So, today I thought I’d share some tips for how to create characters that are alike, but don’t blend together.

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How to Create Unique Characters

  • Give them different goals to accomplish – or if they’re both striving for the same goals, give them different “whys” for wanting to accomplish that goal. Nicolette and Raquel are striving for the same goal, and although they might profess to have the same “why” as you get to know the characters more you realize that their real “whys” are quite far apart from each other.

  • Give them different personalities. Is one of them easily excitable? Make the other one level-headed. Is one of them kind and gentle? Make the other one abrupt and insensitive. Is one of them forgiving? Make the other one bitter.
  • Give them different ways of viewing the world. One of them might see the world through rose-colored glasses while the other might think everyone is out to get her. One of them might see a rainy day and inwardly cheer that she can go dance in the rain, and the other one might see the same day and outwardly fume about the humidity and noise.
  • Give them different love languages. (Love languages include 5 things: Gifts, Acts of Service, Physical touch, Words of Affirmation, and Quality time. They are the way a person feels needed or valued – not only in a romantic setting, but also with friends, family, and life in general.) In Echoes Raquel is a physical touch person, which means she’s always hugging her sister, patting someone’s back, squeezing a shoulder in thanks, etc…. Nicolette is more of a Words of Affirmation person and is always expressing gratitude, and very rarely uses words in a saucy way like Raquel does.
  • Give them different talents. One of them can be athletic, while the other one is more into the logical side of things. One can be a fantastic cook while the other one is an artist. No matter what talents you choose for them, make sure that they stay consistent with who the person is. An artist will notice things throughout the book that a chef wouldn’t notice, and so on….

There are also various other things like giving them different quirks, disabilities, or physical traits that set them apart. For my characters, they’re identical twins, so I wanted them to be alike. I just had to make sure they weren’t too much alike.

What about you? What are some ways you’ve discovered for making characters different from each other?