A Creaky Whirligig Addendum: the Twitter-machine

Way back in my personal time machine about a year ago, and prior to that, I was tweeting regularly (and potentially obsessively). I’d tweet for fun, re-tweet news, writerly advice, interact with a bunch of people, and of course tweet stuff from my blog.

Then, as you may know if you are a regular reader, things slowed down. I stopped writing for a long while, my blog posts stuttered to a near halt and I stopped going onto Twitter. The only thing my Twitter account was doing was posting my blog-tweets, and since those were automated I never had to actually log on to do it.

Now, I’m back from my hibernation (even though, ironically, it is the middle of the Winter) and I’m re-emerging from my den. Cozy as the Den of Procrastination may be, after a while you get leg cramps and you realize if you don’t get out of there, you may die from lack of movement. (And we all know Ernest Becker wouldn’t like that.)

Over the past few days I’ve re-acquainted myself with Twitter and I put a few tweets out there, started interacting with some editors of small press journals I know (they’re a friendly bunch!) and geared back up a little bit in that world.

I forgot how addictive Twitter is, but it’s one of those places you go and then you look up from the clock and realize an hour has gone by, or more, depending on how many interesting links you find. Why just today I’ve looked at a list of the happiest countries in the world (Norway, Denmark, and Sweden are #’s 1, 2 and 3 kids…) and a bunch of other random stuff I don’t need to know but which is entertaining and will be useful to whip out at parties (okay, I don’t really go to parties, but in my fantasies I’m invited to salon-style literary parties with writerly types in Manhattan.)

Meanwhile, I’m pleased to say I’ve also updated my submissions tracker. That’s my personal self-torture device to show how many places I’ve submitted short stories, the number of months I’ve been waiting for my standard form rejection letter (I kid, I kid! … sort of) and whether or not I’ve sent a personal query on the status of my work.

For example this morning I got my standard form rejection from the Fairy Tale Review, after sending only two polite personal inquiries at the 8 and 10 month marks (their website assured me I would get a response from them in 4 months.) Ah well, what’s 10 months of waiting for an unsigned standard form rejection between friends?

But I’m on the case! This morning I had 18 outstanding submissions, and now I have 17. I’m tracking. I’m following up, a few times if needed. I’m taking my lumps people. This is how we do it in small press literary journal land.

In order to keep the machine oiled, re-adding Twitter to my mix feels right. When I post this, my blog will auto-tweet this, and somewhere on Twitter somebody might read it. And who knows, somebody who read it might re-tweet it. It could happen.

Meanwhile, I’ve got to get back to writing. Not blog posting, not tweeting, not drinking diet cola beverage, but writing. That’s what we writers are supposed to be doing in between blog posts and tweets, remember?

Potpourri Post: Metazen, Letters in the Mail, Zouch, The Artist and more

Today’s post is brought to you random topical inspiration.

My story Baby Crazy will be published by Metazen on March 6th. That’s only 2 days away – yay! I’ll post the link on Tuesday.

Do you subscribe to Stephen Elliot’s Letters in the Mail over at The Rumpus? I started getting them recently, and I like them. He sends one email a day and it has his personal observations about things going on in his literary circle, he talks about events he may have attended or promotional things he’s doing, and of course he talks about pieces on The Rumpus site. He uses a very casual style which is appropriate since the email is supposed to be like a personal letter. Anyway, if you haven’t checked out The Rumpus, you probably should.

Zouch Magazine recently followed me on Twitter, so I followed them back. Then I went to their site because I wanted to find out more about them. Turns out two artistically inclined Canadian guys who are into music and literature decided it was time to put up their own site and do their own thing. I notice the site is very visually inclined, so some stories are represented by a picture and you have to click on the picture to get to the content. Also, they are very actively looking for people to submit content so if you’re looking for a new market to check out, they’re a place to look.

A few days ago I got an email from an editor I’ve only submitted to twice (a third item had to be withdrawn when it was accepted elsewhere) but she was so nice, I want to share what she said to me:

I really enjoyed this story.  What did you send me last time? I know that I liked it as well.

I don’t think this is quite the story for [  ] either, but I have no doubt that one of your stories certainly will be.

I was like, what…me? You only read two stories and you liked them both? But what was funny is that she never told me that in the original rejection slips. Good lesson for me kids, behind those rejection slips people are forming opinions – even when they don’t share them.

And she was SO nice, she even offered to re-read the first piece and provide more detailed feedback. I need someone to love that story as much as I do, because I’ve been trying to get Family Picnic published for years. Nate Tower just accepted the only other story I had from that long ago, so The Paperboy found an adoptive dad, maybe if things go well Family Picnic will soon have an adoptive mom. Or at least, maybe it’ll have an adoptive aunt to provide feedback that leads me to the right editorial parent.

I’ve noticed something funny is going on now with my rejection slips – most of them are getting personal responses now, and in some cases they’re saying things like “this is well written” “I like the crisp language” or “this flows well” (all comments I’ve gotten recently, by the way) even though the pieces aren’t getting accepted. Believe me, this is a significant development for me…I feel like some invisible tide is turning.

When I consider how important it is to be published in places like PANK, Metazen, Foundling Review, Spilling Ink, Bartleby Snopes (twice), Dogzplot, Right Hand Pointing, etc. I think these brand name journals are helping me tremendously as I make forward headway. Then again, I don’t put all those names on my submission cover letters but let’s be real, I always put a few.

That takes me back to something Jacob Appel said in that Tips article I mentioned in my last post… he said a twenty-something MFA student slushpile reader might dismiss you out of hand if you have no recognizable pub credits but they’ll think two or three times if you’ve got heavy hitter names, maybe a Pushcart nom, or something. Ahh, back to their hierarchy of talent, right?

I don’t know.

I’d like to believe, and I do believe, that my writing has improved over the past two years too. I’ve had so many great editors give productive feedback and I’m listening – I swear I’m listening very closely to those snippets of feedback – and maybe my nose to the proverbial grindstone, plus my successful story placements, plus the ongoing goodwill of new editors equals the promise of further placement.

Hmm. This set of observations could be influenced by the sun shining and it’s Sunday and I can go out and enjoy the day too.

Finally, movies. Or, a movie. The Artist, in fact.

I recently made some very snide comments about how would it be possible for a French film to win over an American film for Best Picture. (By the way, j’adore Paris and Viva La France…) Then I went to see The Artist.

Yeah, it’s good. It deserved Best Picture over The Descendants.

Also, now I understand why Jean DuJardin (Mr. John Garden, for those of us who speaka de English) got selected for the lead role. He has a certain je ne c’est quoi about him that does strongly remind you of old Hollywood. He was able to use his face so wonderfully, and he must be dangeously charming in France, where he speaks the native language.

But… and there is a “but” here…

Movies just ain’t what they used to be, I lament to you, dear reader.

In two years from now, I’m not going to be talking about The Artist. I’ll still be talking about how phenomenal The Departed is, and it’s destined to be a classic. I’ll talk about the wonder of The Royal Tennenbaums, the razor-sharp and inspiring dialogue from David Mamet’s Heist (“Don’t you want to hear my last words?” “I just did.” BANG) and how far ahead of its time Close Encounters of the Third Kind was as a film, yes, these movies I will watch again and again along with my romantic favorites Good Will Hunting, The Piano and Groundhog Day.

But The Artist will, to me, be like Shakespeare in Love… it was a movie I saw, and liked, but I probably don’t need to see again and again and again.

Just the stats ma’am: improving blog stats

Hit Me - a gratuitous shot of how sexy your blog would be if it had more visitors

Like most blog writers, I’m addicted to blog hits like a crystal meth-head addicted to crack. My “pipe” is that little skyscraper on my “Statistics” page going from 1 or 2 to 10 hits in a day. Once (just once) I actually got 66 hits on my blog in one day. I had posted something on a popular topic, I think it might have been my New Jersey Diner post.

I’ve tried all the stuff you’re supposed to do to make your blog more interesting:

  • putting an image at the top of the blog post
  • creating a snappy title (I could probably do a better job of that)
  • creating lists in the blog post
  • asking  a question at the bottom of the post to engage the reader to respond
  • and using bolded text to call attention to stuff

I also go around to other people’s blogs and read them and participate in the blogging community. I scan the “Writing” tag page pretty consistently and click on anything that looks interesting. (I’ve met a lot of nice writers that way!)

On top of all that, I tweet my blog posts regularly and I used to do StumbleUpon for my blog posts but I found that I just wasn’t getting hits so I don’t do that as much anymore.

Regardless of what I do, I seem to have a consistent number of hits each month, somewhere between 250 – 290.

Who do I need to sleep with around here to up my blog stats?

Okay, maybe that won’t solve the problem, but seriously, what else are you power-bloggers out there doing that makes readers go nutty for your posts?

If you tell me to pick a different topic, we’re gonna come to blows on that, so don’t go there. This blog is about writing, and otherwise curmudgeonly activities of one particular writer.

But aside from that, I’m open to suggestions. Do you have any?

Hit me with your best shot.

Funniest Tweets Ever!

Here is a short list of some of my funniest tweets ever!  I love to use other people’s tweets as a jumping off point – try it, it’s fun.

If you have funny tweets too, share them in the comments section.

  • ReTweet @nprnews Egyptian Mummies Diagnosed With Clogged Arteries

@cdeminski: Really? My diagnosis showed no internal organs…

 

@cdeminski: I can #tweet from my laptop, my cell phone, my #Kindle and my blog, but I still can’t tweet from my microwave oven. So disappointing.

 

  • RT@hirschorn My 9-year-old son: “I wonder what gay chinese people are like.”

@cdeminski Moo Goo Gai Pan – need I say more?

 

  • ReTweet @CNN NASA announces new homes for retiring space shuttles.

@cdeminski: Where they play bridge on Sunday and serve jello

 

@cdeminski: Yep, that and dollar sliders. Oh, and jello shots. Wait, wait, and porn. I think that covers it.

 

  • RT @nytimes An Arab Spring Fails to Bloom for Iraq Youths

@cdeminski: It’s true, for them it was more just like a bad hay fever season.

 

  • RT @thebookmaven Reading the latest Jasper Fforde and wondering what the inside of his mind looks like…must be cool!

@cdeminski: Dark, pink and squishy?

 

  • RT @nytimes N. Korea Says It Is Holding U.S. Citizen

@cdeminski: It isn’t holding so much as hugging and squeezing.

 

@cdeminski: Which ones do you characterize as “not awkward”?

@cdeminski: If everyone gets 15 minutes of fame, how is that parcelled into 140 character increments? #Twarhol

Why Twitter is an awesome tool for writers

Are you interested in what editors at small press magazines are thinking about right now? You do?! Well, Twitter is a fantastic place to go to rub virtual elbows with folks that represent this community. In fact, every aspect of the publishing industry is fully represented on Twitter.

Let’s say you were looking for a list of the Best Literary Agents on Twitter. Media Bistro has put one together, along with lists of Best Editors too.

By “Following” these people and reading their tweets, you can discover links to others you might want to follow, or link to interesting blog posts with tips, advice, and a good read on what is happening right now.

But let’s say you don’t have enough time to find all of these people and link to each one of them – then what? You could look at subscribing to a Twitter List.

Lists are created by people who want to pull together a lot of Twitter accounts on a similar topic and publish it for others to use.  Listorious is one site for that purpose, but there are others too – just Google and go.

From my Twitter account I have a list I’ve named The Write Stuff.  I’ve put it together so I can read the tweets of over a 125+ accounts of writers, editors, agents, publishers, small press mags, etc.

If you follow my list – the work is already done for you. What’s more, you don’t have to “clog” your own Twitter-stream with all of those accounts, you look at what people are tweeting when you look at the list, when you feel like it.

Writers need to stay on top of what is happening in the world of small press magazines. Things are evolving so rapidly these days it is hard to keep up, but even spending 15 minutes on Twitter a few times a week will give you a chance to stay in touch by leveraging the knowledge of people you meet, lists you read and connections you make.