Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Special Challenge Participant Feature - Michael Di Gesu

Today is a very special feature! I have the honor of interviewing a writer I admire very much and have enjoyed getting to know over the past two years. Michael Di Gesu is an incredibly talented writer, one who will hit it big time in the very near future. His theme for the Challenge was flash fiction mysteries, and since today is also the post day for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, I thought it would tie in very well. So please welcome once of the most amazing people you will ever meeting in the blogging world, Michael!

Your theme was a series of flash fiction/riddle pieces – what made you chose that theme?

I just love to write Flash Fiction. To be able to tell a whole story in 3-500 words is quite the challenge, THEN, to add a riddle on top of it .... we are talking MAJOR challenge. And isn’t that one of the focus points of the A-Z challenge? To stretch or writing skills and to do it daily? And let me say that I had to be a rubber band for this feat.

Did any of them completely stump your followers?

Yes, several did. Many of my posts needed research, so that enabled me to really come up with some difficult ones.

Did you write these in advance or fly by the seat of your pants?

Man, did I fly by the seat! I had actually began the research the afternoon before I had to post. Some took almost 8-10 hours to put together. By midnight I usually had them ready for the 6:00am scheduled time.

Did you select a word and then write the prose, like it was a word prompt?

Yes, I tailored each post to the specific word I wished to focus on. Many of the posts had a fantasy element, so I would think of a wonderful mystical/magical character to focus on. One of my favorites was my “P” post for PAN.

Which one was your favorite piece? (My favorite was the letter Q. And ironically I got it wrong!)

Now Alex, that’s a tough one. But, if I have to choose, I would say my “S” post. The Salamander. I loved writing this particular piece because I wrote it in the Salamander’s POV. And what an attitude this little guy has. Geez. Too funny.

Harry Potter figured into your writing as well. You’re a big fan, aren’t you?

A HUGE fan. I must have read the series at least ten times. J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter came into my life the year my father died from pancreatic cancer. I had spent three LONG months taking care of him and literally watching him disappear. It was a very stressful time, and by December of 2001 the first film, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’’s Stone, had just hit the theaters. It was the day after my father’s service my brother and I went to see it.

For the first time in months I had escaped the sadness and forgot for over two glorious hours of magic. The film was the ultimate escape and started me on my passion for the books. I still go back to read them on occasion when I need an escape. The world J.K. Rowling created is very special to me. Harry, Ron, and Hermione, in my opinion, have the best chemistry of all the literary characters I have read.

J. K. Rowling also influenced me greatly as a writer. From her I learned how to create lush, vivid, and descriptive scenes. And I tried and hopefully succeeded in creating wonderful chemistry between my three mc’s in my first m/g fantasy novel.

Your birthday was in April – what did you do that day? Did you write?

The “Y” post was on my birthday. First, I wrote my post ... early. I am usually in Florida for this month, and I reserve my time share in Orlando my birthday week. This year I had spent it at Epcot. I am a HUGE Disney fan as well, not surprising since I love fantasy and magic so much. I had decided to do something I had never done before and that was to have my picture taken with every Disney character that happen to be there that day. Not easy to do believe me. The lines and all the kids.... Of course, I was the BIGGEST kid and did get a few strange looks, but I didn’t care, it was my birthday after all.

Do you have a theme in mind for next year’s A to Z Challenge?

Well, I hadn’t really thought about it yet, we do have some time before April. But, for the last two challenges I did the Flash Fiction/riddle theme and everyone seem to really enjoy it. So, I might just have to stick with it again, unless, something else more incredible comes to mind. Anything is possible with me, especially when it comes to my writing.

Thank you Alex for featuring me today. I am honored to be here and I’m definitely looking forward to the next A-Z. If last year is any indication, you might just peak at three thousand bloggers this year. Anything is possible in the A-Z Challenge.

Thank YOU, Michael!!

Co-host Ninja Captain Alex is the author of CassaStar and CassaFire and his blog can be found HERE

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

J.C Martin is Back with 5 Tips on Writing a Popular Blog Post

Does the name J.C Marting ring any bells? It should. She guest postedhere last week...and I left off her POST. She'd written a POST and then talked about her debut novel. Tina, the oh so clever and together scheduler of guest posters forgot to put the POST in the POST. So here's the POST. Sigh. My big apologies to J.C...
Tell ya' what: leave a comment on THIS POST, and I'll do a random number generator and buy you a copy of Oracle. Gladly. I'm excited to read it...but currently not able to read. Or schedule posts correctly. I've been ill. True story.

5 Tips on Writing a Popular Blog Post

Ever wished you had more people reading your blog posts? Ever wanted more people commenting, or linking to your post, hence driving more traffic to your site?
We all follow the popular blogger, who garners hundreds of comments and shares for every post they make. What is their secret? While I don't profess to be one of these super bloggers, I follow some of them, and have noticed some common elements in their blog posts.

1. First things first: write about something worthwhile
While we all have the odd post about your family holiday, readers want posts they could potentially benefit from. Hence, your blog posts should be informative. Know ways to keep ants away from your picnic? Or a sure-fire way to make soufflés rise? Perhaps you're well-versed in the art of haiku poetry. Share this knowledge of yours with your readers, so they can benefit from them, too.

2. The hook: a catchy title
The title is the first thing your readers see, so try and catch their attention from the get-go. A post called “Great Uncle Benny's Beer Mat Collection” might not catch the eye of many people (except perhaps beer mat enthusiasts). The title should give readers clues as to what the post is about.
A suggestion of some useful phrases to include:
  • How to…”, e.g. “How to Sleep in Class Without Getting Caught”
  • A time span, e.g. “Get a Booty Like Beyonce's in 10 Days”
  • A list (everybody loves lists!), e.g. “5 Tips on Writing a Popular Blog Post”
3. Brevity: the soul of a great blog post
Ever started skimming through a blog post, or giving up on it completely, because it was way too long? If you're like me, you probably follow dozens (if not hundreds) of bloggers, and just don't have the time to digest a 1,000+ word epic. Chances are you'll read and comment only on the shorter, snappier posts.
A good guide to the ideal length of a blog post: keep it between 300 and 500 words.

4. Bells and whistles: making your post reader-friendly
Big blocks of continuous text can be dreary and a strain on the eyes. Make your post reader-friendly by breaking up the text with some relevant, attention-grabbing graphics and images: a photo, a graph, even a cartoon illustrating your point. Just be sure to check copyright restrictions, and always cite your sources.

Another way to break up text is by using numbering or bullet-points, hence dividing the text into smaller, more manageable chunks.

5. Any questions?
Stimulate discussion in the comments by ending the post with a relevant question, something that makes your readers stop and think.
For example:
So there you have it: 5 tips on writing a popular blog post.
Which of these strategies have YOU ever employed? Do you have any additional tips of your own?
Do share your thoughts. ;)

J.C. Martin is a butt-kicking bookworm: when she isn’t reading or writing, she teaches martial arts and self-defence to adults and children. A writer of dark mysteries and gripping thrillers with a psychological slant, her short stories have won various prizes, and have been published in several anthologies. Oracle, released by J. Taylor Publishing, is her debut novel.
Born and raised in Malaysia, J.C. now lives in south London with her husband and three dogs.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Interview with Triberr Founder Dino Dogan

 A month or so after I joined Triberr, a site for bloggers who tweet, I first interacted with Dino Dogan, one of its two founders. As those who know me would tell you, I'm neither very tech-savvy, nor very tech-fortunate. So I got into Triberr glitches quite often-- and Dino has bailed me out each time, with compassion and good humor!
I haven't told Dino or Daniel (the other Triberr founder), but I call each of them "My Friendly  Neighborhood TriberrMan," because they come to my rescue every time I'm in Triberr-trouble. Without further ado, I bring you my chat with Dino the Triberrman:

1. How and when did you start off as a blogger?

I first started blogging on a now defunct community website for motorcycle enthusiasts. It was called 2WheelTips, and it was essentially like Facebook with lots of educational content for bikers. 

Then I started my dog blog, followed by my social media blog DIYBloggerNET.

2. Did your interest in blogging inspire you to build What is Triberr all about?

It absolutely did. I always tell people that Triberr is built for bloggers, by bloggers. And I mean that. 

Here's the thing. 

1% of superstar bloggers get 99% of attention. And attention equals traffic, book deals, sales, speaking engagement, money, opportunities, etc.

Alas, superstar bloggers are not making superstar content. In fact, their content is safe, it's boring, it's regurgitated, it's just plain mediocre, at best.   

Yet they get 100s, sometimes 1000s of social media shares. Why?  

Meanwhile, there are so many amazing small bloggers writing kick-ass content that no one ever sees. 

I decided that enough is enough. Amazing bloggers writing awesome content need to be heard, and Triberr is a way of stealing attention away from 1 percenters of the blogosphere and giving it to those who actually deserve it.

3. What are the most important things to keep in mind if a blogger wants to succeed on Triberr?

It's a platform unlike any other, so it may take a while to get the hang of it. Stay with it, it's worth it. 

Tribe up with people you would invite to your house. People who's content you would share even if they never shared yours. 

Be a connector. Build your own tribes.

4. How can a new blogger kickstart his or her blog? Would Triberr work for new bloggers?

Triberr's original intent is to help new bloggers. Getting on Triberr is THE BEST way for a new blogger to get things going.

5. For bloggers who have hit a ceiling in terms of number of visitors, what is your advice to break into a higher level?

That is an excellent questions with which I struggle all the time. Here are few tricks I've successfully implemented in the past. 
I. Meet new people
As humans, we have this tendency to get comfortable with our surroundings. I try to fight that tendency, and make a point of meeting new people. In person, via social media, commenting, whatever it connections = new possibilities.
II. Interview
Get interviewed or interview others. 

One of the best online relationships I've developed is with Christian Hollingsworth. And the way it started was with an interview where he called me the Triberr MacGyver. I mean, how could you not love that?
III. Become a Source
Subscribe to HARO and become a source for news stories. 

It's a great way to get some links back to your site, and afterwards, you can use it to add credibility and social proof to your blog. 

It's how I managed to get on ReadWriteWeb as the source for a news story.

IV. Join a new Tribe
Triberr is a great way to extend and expand your circle of friends. Join a new tribe. Start a new tribe based on a new/different ideology. In short...get yourself out there.

6. What is #TribeUpNYC? Why should bloggers sign up for this event?

#TribeUpNYC is a 1-day conference for bloggers. We have 5 amazing speakers, like Geoff Livingston, who is a living legend, and Lena West, who is a dynamo in heels. 

But most importantly, #TribeUpNYC will be an opportunity to bloggers from the East Coast to meet each other face to face. Make some new connections, expose themselves to new opportunities, and have fun in the City that never sleeps.

Dino Dogan 
Founder of Triberr Lousy Mixed Martial Artist and a recovering Network Engineer. Pretty good singer/songwriter, trainer of dogs, and a blogger of biz. Fun at parties and a global force for badassery.

Current Location:          New Jersey
Phone (US)                  201.403.1362
Phone (Paris)            + 33 6 51 72 50 33
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Contact me: Google Talk dinodogan Skype dino.dogan
Latest From My Blog: You Don’t Get Paid to Speak. You Get Paid to Promote.
This interview was brought to you by Damyanti@Amlokiblogs , a Triberr fan who has seen a boost in her blog and twitter following due to her Triberr membership, and recommends it to all lovers of blogs and blogging.