Saturday, March 27, 2010

Handling Social Media

We all know how time-consuming it is to have multiple online sites to maintain. Penny Sansevieri, author of Red Hot Internet Publicity, gives advice on how to handle social media without getting overwhelmed.

10 Ways to Rock on Social Media and Still Have a Life
It's true: social media is here--and there goes your life! Well, maybe not entirely but it sure seems that way sometimes, doesn't it? If you've held off joining the social media party because you were worried about what a time suck it would be, take heart! There are a lot of authors who feel the same way. I speak at conferences all the time and at almost every event I get at least a half a dozen people who insist they don't have time to devote to social media. Well, the fact remains you don't have time not to! But if you are still worried about the time commitment, let's take a look at how you can do this without dumping too much of your time into this effort. I mean an author's still gotta write, right?

When it comes to social media, understand this: sometimes more is not better; it's just more. You don't want to push yourself to too many sites because that can lead to fragmenting yourself too much online and, when you get fragmenting, you often get site abandonment. Meaning that you populate content on a (social media) site, only to forget it even exists.

1. Skim: the first phase of online promotion is often reading. This can be anything from Twitter posts to Facebook updates, blog posts and online articles. Here's a tip: skim. You'll want to be very selective with anything that you feel is worthy of an in-depth read. Save your time for the real important stuff and skim the rest.

2. Subscribe to RSS feeds, but only those you actually read: it's tempting to subscribe to a whole bunch of RSS blog feeds (just like it's tempting to get an email box full of newsletters but save yourself the hassle and only subscribe to content you can actually read). The same goes for people you follow on Twitter, if they don't add value, let them go. You don't need the noise.

3. Keep a timer nearby: if you are allocating time each day to your online activities, it's safe to assume you'll go over time unless you really police yourself. Get a kitchen timer and keep it near your desk, when the buzzer goes off, stop!

4. Automate whenever you can: automating can be the key to your online happiness. When you have autoresponders or auto content generators in place they can save you scads of time. An easy and quick way to implement example of this might be your newsletter sign ups. There are a variety of systems, one of them via Constant Contact that will allow you to easily automate sign ups. Even if you have a giveaway for signing up, the system can handle this too!

5. Consolidate your online presence: when you use sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Squidoo, you can really consolidate what you're doing online. Why? Because these three sites "talk" to one another, what that means is that if you update one, they all update. Makes it easy, doesn't it? While you still should visit each of these to populate them with content, you can also plug your information into one source and have it update all your properties. The 'source' can actually be your blog too. Using a site called Twitterfeed can update your Twitter account each time you update your blog, and there are widgets in Facebook and Squidoo that will do the same.

6. Get a routine: get yourself into a social media routine. You'll want to identify the best times of the day for you to blog, get active on Facebook, Twitter, etc., and then don't diverge from that. Stick to a schedule and a routine.

7. Cross-pollinate your stuff: much like my section on consolidating, you'll want to also cross-pollinate your content. Syndicated online articles are a good example of that. You can link to these articles from a variety of places. Your Twitter account for one will really benefit from this content, and you can also upload it to Facebook and Squidoo.

8. Do only essential things: you can waste a lot of your time online. By now you know that a million things can distract you; it's important to keep to the essentials. This means that you define what pushes your campaign forward and what doesn't. By doing this you will gain a better sense of where it's best to spend your time. For example, if blogging seems to get you a lot of new newsletter sign ups, continue doing it.

9. Don't follow the leader: while there are a lot of folks out there telling you what to do (including moi), you want to do what's right for you and your campaign, not what's popular. Twitter, for example, might make no sense for you at all. So don't just follow advice because you trust the source. Listen, learn, then do what will have the biggest impact on your campaign.

10. Create a plan: without a direction, any path will do. Make sure you have a plan for going online, don't just do it because it's "hip" or everyone else is. Make sure you spend some time creating a focused outline of what you'll do, what your goals are and what you need to attain to accomplish these goals. A plan will not only keep you focused, but also stay better on track with your marketing. A plan should include goals and a to do list so you make sure and sift through all the action items you need to create a rockin' online campaign.

These days, social media is a must for anyone promoting anything. But it doesn't have to mean that it's a time suck too. Keeping a social media presence also means managing it carefully. Know where to spend your time, what needs to be limited and where your efforts need to be expanded. Sometimes the quickest way to grow traction online is to isolate your efforts, while everyone is throwing it all "out there," you can create a focused plan that will not only gain you momentum, but readers as well.

Penny is the author of Red Hot Internet Publicity     

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Interview with Author Steven Clark Bradley

My guest today is Steven Clark Bradley. Steve, it’s nice to have you here. Fill us in on who you are and what you’ve been writing.
My work and life in 34 countries include some of the most dangerous places in the world: the Middle East as a journalist in Pakistan, Iraq, Israel, Palestine and West Africa where I interviewed former Palestinian President Yasser Arafat in Ramallah Palestine, Muammar Qaddafi of Libya, and former Turkish President Turgut Ozel. Additionally, my involvement in American politics, gives me a profound, first-hand knowledge of the political winds of change that constantly sway the American republic to the left and the right. Since I have been able to travel so widely, I write about things I have seen firsthand, which gives me a very vivid ability to tell a story that is both riveting and realistic. As a published author with four fast-action novels already on the market and as an educator, I have developed an active marketing ability as well as an extensive fan-based presence on the Internet.

Yes, you have a huge Internet presence and your background is incredible.
Steven, when did the writing bug bite, and in what genre(s)?
I have always been a storyteller. I was writing my dreams and my ideas when I was as young as ten. I have a need to express the things I believe and want to tell in a manner that uses real-life issues to tell a story that can wake people up. I have always had a fear of one day dying and no one would know I had been here. I realized that the best way to be remembered is to do something memorable. A book, a story, fiction or otherwise leaves eternal footprints in the sands of time and that drove me to write. I think about the homeless and those incarcerated. Many of them will live, die and be used for science and I wanted it to be said I left behind me something to make men and women ponder.

When you started writing, what goals did you want to accomplish? Is there a message you want readers to grasp?
I have always said that my works are like treatises on the life and potential destruction of America. I look at my work perhaps the way Josephus, the great Hebrew historian’s work. Though my work is fiction, the basis of my books is set in stone and is being lived at this very time. I believe we are losing our freedom; freedoms that were never granted by any government, but by God. There are forces at work today that place all of us in the crosshairs of totalitarian treatment. One of the biggest mistakes we are making today in our seeming delight in playing the part of the Ostrich. We have our heads in the sand and think our enemies cannot see our hinder parts. My stories go a long way in showing that going softly and politically with nations like Iran and North Korea, letting the fundamental transformation of America go unwarned will only embolden them and give our enemies the idea that we will not react to their behavior that endangers the peace of the world. Unfortunately, they may be right. I try to show what will happen if left unchecked.

Briefly tell us about your latest book. Series or stand-alone?
My newest work is a series that originated from my first book in the trilogy, Patriot Acts. In this series, I have created a world that is sinister and ruthless where it is nearly impossible to tell your friends from your enemies. Sound familiar to the day in which we live? My newst book, which is just about ready to come out in the e-book edition is a contuinuation to show what lurks below the political world that we all see on the news. It is about a deadly, biologically manufactured virus that threatens the whole world.
In The Second Republic, the President of the United States is confronted with a radical underground secret cabal that has targeted America with a domestic bio-terror attack that dwarfs the assault unleashed on September 11, 2001. Set in 2011, this character-driven 67,000 word suspense/thriller weaves a tale that is as plausible as it is exciting. This second book in a trilogy takes the reader inside the White House where treachery and terrorism boils below its underbelly, and a former Special Ops, now the President of the United States, races to stop a deadly virus, which has killed thousands of innocent Americans, without invoking emergency powers that could destroy American constitutional freedoms.

What’s the hook for that expressed e book?
The hook is how these stories immediately take the reader out of the realm of fiction and directly into the world in which we actually live. I am currently writing Patriot Acts part 3 titled, Executive Order. It takes off right where Part Two finishes. It takes the reader even more deeply into the financial master’s plots to control the money supply and to use their unlimited wealth to control the nation. When the president threatens to reveal their plots, the nation is taken to new depths of woe. All three books are so real and riveting that the hook is a natural captivating effect that captures the reader and instills a real fear of how much it is like the day in which we live. The emergency powers referenced in this novel are real and could be invoked in the event of a massive terrorist attack upon the American homeland. Research sources from the Center for Disease Control, Homeland Security, and the Defense Department validate that the threats described in The Second Republic are ripped from today’s headlines and too frighteningly conceivable for comfort.

How do you develop characters? Setting?
There is nothing greater than writing & creating something from nothing. It's the closest thing to the divine! I have lived in many cultures and it has given me a love for the differences amongst us. I am a student of American culture and write about the changes in our society. God created us with free will. He wants us to obey from our hearts. A Writer is a book's world's creator, and you are your characters' creator as well. Give your characters free will as well. Let them guide you and don't force them to do anything. It's an amazing phenomenon when, as I am fond of saying, the book begins to write itself.

Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track?
I think actually, I try to stay on track too much. I started Part Three of Patriot Acts and had three chapters written and it felt flat, more like part two. Then I got my literary epiphany and I redid the whole thing and what has happened, because I let the story guide me, is a story that is the most powerful tale I have ever woven, and it serves as an excellent finale to the series and wraps up the loose ends so well. I do not outline my stuff and I start with a quite general theme and main idea. I leave a lot of open ground to plant my seeds of excitement, stress, love, mercy, revenge and plausible scenarios. I find it quite easy to stay on track simply because I am in the world of the story so richly and deeply that my biggest problem is coming out of it after I finish for the day. My wife often tells me, “come home Steven.” And, I know what she means precisely.

How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?
It is true that I have and played a great part in had a very diverse career, politics, journalism and world travel, but I do feel that my upbringing in rural Indiana did have a powerful effect on the views I hold as dear, such as family and faith. All of those activities in my life have given me a real understanding of what is out there and the dangers we face. I write stories that are only scary because they are so very plausible. I can say that the scenario of Patriot Acts and Patriot Acts Two, which is now in publishing, are both very real and related to the things and issues and dangers we now face in a world gone mad and gone weak. That is why I have striven so hard to make what I write so real and something that serves as a warning of the future that we face without realizing that freedom is not free.

What are your current projects?
My newest works are very different from each other. As I mentioned earlier, Part Tree of the Patriot Acts series, Executive Order is going really well, and I am very excited about that book. During the civil war, President Abraham Lincoln wrote, "The money powers prey upon the nation in times of peace and conspire against it in times of adversity. It is more despotic than a monarch, more insolent than autocracy and more selfish than a bureaucracy. It denounces, as public enemies, all who question its methods or throw light upon its crimes. I have two great enemies, the southern army in front of me and the financial institutions, in the rear. Of the two, the one in the rear is the greatest enemy..... I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country.” It is obvious he was right.
In September of 2008, The Secretary of the treasury and the Federal Reserve Chairman came to President George W. Bush and told him, if he did not release $800 billion dollars to them, that in two hours, five trillion dollars would be siphoned from the American economy and cause the collapse of the US economy and our standard of life forever. They further stated that in twenty-four hours the whole world monetary system would fall, which has been widely called a suicide threat. George Bush capitulated and said yes. Executive Order asks the question, what if the President had said no?

I and my daughter are also writing an older children’s story called, Four Lessons for Willow Morgan. There is nothing more important than imparting strong values into the lives of our children. It is getting tougher and tougher today, with parents giving up more and more of their authority and responsibility to the schools and the government, to be faithful to the call of bringing up our children with examples of mercy, confession, fairness and conviction. Yet, nothing can do more for a child's future than teaching them about honesty, good choices and hard work when they are still young. That is why I have started this little book called Four lessons For Willow Morgan.
This is a story a story about decisions, wise judgment and strong convictions, about that which is right and that which is wrong.
I am writing this a bit differently than I have in the past. This time, I am writing it together with my 9-year-old daughter, Selin Alicia Bradley. She is a bright, sweet and very smart young lady and loves to read. So, this is a two-fold project that gives my little girl lessons in creativity and this story can stimulate lots of children to seek more than their own self-interests, if they venture to read it.
Willow is a little girl who is growing up and who feels urges of rebellion, disobedience and disrespect starting to take hold in her life. Her mother and father recognize it and want to instill some true life lessons in her young heart.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?
If anyone wants to learn more about my books or about my writing in general:
Stories That Read You:
Underground Controversy:
Steven Clark Bradley’s Patriot Acts:
Steven Clark Bradley’s Amazon Author Page:
Steven Clark Bradley Facebook Profile Page:!/StevenClarkBradley?ref=profile
Steven Clark Bradley Facebook Fan Page:

Steven Clark Bradley @ Twitter
Steven Clark Bradley’s Amazon Author Page:
Steven Clark Bradley @ Barnes and Noble:
Steven Clark Bradley @ Fictionwise:
Steven Clark Bradley @ Mobipocket:
I hope readers will take a look at my writing and see the depth and research that I have put into each story. I am sure they will find some stories that read them!

Thanks for the interview, Steven. Continued success!