Link Love for July 2015

Flannery O’Connor: “You can’t clobber a reader while he’s looking. Divert his attention, then clobber him and he never knows what hit him.”

Susan Orlean: “You should know more than what you put on the page. The reader can sense that.”

Marie Force: The results are in –2015 reader survey

  • In short, ebooks are still hot, especially on the Amazon/Kindle and Apple/iBooks platforms. Readers learn about authors via Facebook.
  • “Forty-three percent of readers in 2015 said “star ratings” on retail sites are not that important and they would try a low star-rating if they like the cover/teaser/sample.”
  • “66 percent of readers say they never peruse the New York Times bestseller list looking for new authors to try, 26 say they rarely check the list, 5 percent check monthly and 2 percent check out the list weekly.

General Assembly: New to social media marketing? Here are 6 best practices

In addition to maintaining your standards and representing your brand with excellence, here are six best practices that span all of the top five social networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+, and Instagram) and most other social media channels. In other words, if you start off using these best practices, your chances of early success will increase greatly.

(The 6 best practices are: make it brief, use attractive imagery, be inclusive, keep it short, use hashtags (properly), and know that Instagram is different/an outlier.)

Vice: How to come to terms with your attraction to fat girls

To you heterosexual men out there who can’t yet find it in you to outwardly admit that us fatties are capable of being just as attractive as thin women, ask yourself: Why exactly that is? What is it you really fear? The reaction of your friends? What kind of friends are those, if they so strongly want to stop you from being happy?

The bottom line is, fat women are sick of being treated like freaks, and those men who are attracted to us are sick of being treated like deviants. Attractiveness exists on a spectrum, and it’s time that spectrum show all of itself—rolls and all.

Huffington Post: What TV show “Married at First Sight” tells us about modern dating

I’m all for taking a realistic approach to marriage but this is taking it to the extreme. Jumping into marriage for an experiment is a recipe for disaster. But then at the other end of the scale isn’t waiting for the perfect person, and the perfect relationship at the perfect time equally as unrealistic for success? Where’s the middle ground? It’s likely both extremes will end up unhappy.

Fast Company: Why Thursday is a good day to start a new habit

The workweek tends to be slowing down by then. In my time surveys, I’ve found that Wednesday is the longest workday, and then the numbers fall off after that. One survey of HR professionals found that only 3% of people claimed Thursday was the most productive day in their offices. Fewer things are starting up, so you can concentrate your energy and focus on your new routine. You take your lunchtime walk with fewer competing priorities.

Friday lets you repeat the routine, reinforcing it, again with few distractions. Then over the weekend, you can evaluate (or keep going if you intend to). By the time Monday rolls around, you’re already several days into the habit. It’s not a new thing among other new things. It’s just part of what you do. When a new habit becomes just something you do, it has a greater chance of sticking.

Creative Live: The psychology of creating repeat customers for any business

“Instead of relying on expensive marketing or worrying about differentiation, habit-forming companies get customers to cue themselves to action by attaching their services to the customers’ daily routines and emotions. A cemented habit is when users subconsciously think, ‘I’m bored,’ and instantly Facebook comes to mind. They think, ‘I wonder what’s going on in the world?’ and before rationale thought occurs, Twitter is the answer. The first-to-mind solution wins,” Nir says.

Hootsuite: 5 social network features you need to stop ignoring (Twitter-favorites; Facebook-interest lists, LinkedIn-search for posts, Instagram-the following tab, Google-Google analytics snapshot)

Like certain spices in every rack, social networks have features that we simply pass over without giving them much thought. Sometimes we use them, but often as an afterthought with no strategy behind it. But these features were carefully thought out and built. They serve a purpose, a place in a recipe that many of us simply haven’t discovered yet.

Cision: Build your brand on Instagram

…being active on Instagram ensures you’re a part of this big party. But also, so many brands are struggling with how to use or aren’t using it at all, so for those of us on there, we can build our communities, grow our presence, and establish a foundation before everyone else catches on and are left playing catch-up. Instagram is a hyper-rich site for engagement too. With engagement rates 15X greater than Facebook and significantly higher than the other major social media sites, there is real opportunity to connect with and build a devoted audience on Instagram.

Time: How to attract good luck — The 4 steps are:

  1. Maximize Opportunities: Keep trying new things.

  2. Listen To Hunches: Especially if it’s an area where you have some experience, trust your intuition.

  3. Expect Good Fortune: Be an optimist. A little delusion can be good.

  4. Turn Bad Luck Into Good: Don’t dwell on the bad. Look at the big picture.

Inc.: 4 steps to give yourself a motivation makeover

  1. Find new sources
  2. Carve out time daily
  3. Create a social media toolkit
  4. Build a support team

Brain Pickings: The illustrated love letters, thank you notes and travelogues of great artists

Letter writing is probably the most beautiful manifestation in human relations, in fact, it is its finest residue.

Vitae: Ignore your haters and toot your own horn (good advice even if it’s from an academic point of view)

Stanford University: This is your brain on Jane Austen.

Phillips said the global increase in blood flow during close reading suggests that “paying attention to literary texts requires the coordination of multiple complex cognitive functions.” Blood flow also increased during pleasure reading, but in different areas of the brain. Phillips suggested that each style of reading may create distinct patterns in the brain that are “far more complex than just work and play.”

The experiment focuses on literary attention, or more specifically, the cognitive dynamics of the different kinds of focus we bring to reading. This experiment grew out of Phillips’ ongoing research about Enlightenment writers who were concerned about issues of attention span, or what they called “wandering attention.”

Finally, Miss Piggy covers “Bitch Better Have My Money” (the Rihanna version) and it is perfect. Hat tip to Twitter and my friend Deanna for letting me know about this.

Link Love for June 2015

I’m late. June ended a few weeks ago, but I found these links on the last day of the month. I wanted a place to share them as well as keep them, so I am posting to my blog. Hope you enjoy!

The Skim: 1 March 2015

Welcome to The Skim. I skim the news for things I want to read and things you may want to know about.

NPR: Sad news for romance writers. Beatrice Small, the classic author who helped set the genre on a new track, died this week.

The Atlantic: If you haven’t heard or seen the confustion (my word for confusion and frustration) about the dress, spare yourself and just read this article about attention policing and online opinions.

JSTOR Daily: Josephine Baker is the GOAT of all female entertainers. She was Madonna, Janet Jackson, Diana Ross, pre-Sound of Music Oscar set Lady Gaga, and Beyonce before they were twinkles in their great-grandparents’ eyes. Check out this post on the Bronze Goddess. If you can, go see the one-woman show, Josephine and I.

LA Times: There is a place called Gelato University. Here are the nine lessons the author learned there. Top lesson I learned: I should have enrolled here. I would have been the valedictorian.

Everyday Feminism: If you didn’t witness Amber Rose’s epic clapback against the Kardashian Klan, go check that out. And then read this piece on women and sex-shaming.

The Verge: It’s now canon. Catwoman is bisexual.

99U: Stop apologizing for wanting work-life balance. (Ugh. I hate the word balance. I prefer fit. Still a relevant post.)

Astrosaddle: Forget 50 Shades of Grey. Check out this new movie. It’s been called the lesbian Secretary.

The Skim: 7 February 2015

Welcome to The Skim. I skim the news for things I want to read and things you may want to know about. (Get it? The skim…I amuse myself.)

The quotation of the week goes to Jane Austen: “The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.” Right on, Jane.

I’m still recovering from the split decision on winter vs. spring that came earlier this week. That Yankee groundhog said more snow. General Beauregard Lee of Georgia said spring is coming. I wish the weather and groundhogs could decide so I can decide if I need to bundle up or start exfoliating.

Saturday’s Google Doodle features Laura Ingalls Wilder, the author of The Little House on the Prairie. Saturday marks her 148th birthday. Her work has been hotly contested recently here, here, and here, but the stories about the plains, Ma, Papa, and the family inspired my love of the West.

This read (at least the Twitter headline) made me feel much better about myself and my life. Most people who look productive aren’t.

In truth, most of these “hard workers” are just inefficient. Look closely and you’ll see they use these methods to produce the same results as everybody else. And while it can be argued that these people are disciplined because of their work ethic, more of a focus should be put on productivity. And to produce more results, you don’t have to work longer, just smarter.

Wave your hands in the air if you work smart, not hard!

Fifty Shades of Grey is popping up everywhere. Christian activists want to trade with you: your book copy for a copy of the Bible. Domestic violence advocates want you to donate the price of the movie ticket to a local shelter. Haters just want you to not go because the actors have no chemistry. I’m going to go watch Body Heat again and lust after online photos of Jamie Dornan. (He is dreamy with facial hair and in The Fall. Get into it.)

Harper Lee is coming out with a new book, Go Set a Watchman. Well, it’s not so new. The book was written before To Kill a Mockingbird, and it sat in a safety deposit box for years. (There may be hopes for the manuscripts under your bed and in your old files.) Roy Peter Clark from the Poynter Institute (a great place in a wonderful location) wrote a piece on Harper Lee as a storyteller, discussing her use of suspense through her descriptions of time passing:

In “Mockingbird” we are awaiting a verdict. Jury deliberations, especially in the Jim Crow South, could be over in a few minutes. Or they can take days and days. Or the jury can be hung. What will happen? That’s what all the characters in the novel, and all its readers, want to find out.

Amtrak started offering writer residencies. Authors would ride the rails and write about their experiences and whatever else they wanted. Now a hotel is getting into the act per Fast Company. Evan Peterson summed it up best: “A free night’s stay that forces you to write is not a bad deal.”

Harvard Business Review is my go-to source for all things business and management. One article worth sharing this week is this one on staying motivated after a big win or accomplishment.

Many of us have experienced some of the same feelings after completing a major project, or winning a big sale, or making a crucial presentation to the board. For months or weeks you were ruthlessly focused on a single, herculean undertaking. And then inevitably, that assignment is done.

When we think about achieving a major goal, we picture the exhilaration of reaching new heights. What we often fail to anticipate, however, is that once we’ve scaled that mountain, it can be surprisingly chilly on the other side. After a period of massive productivity we have to revert back to life as usual and settle back into an established workplace routine.

It’s a lot harder than it looks.

Now reading and pondering over this Thought Catalog piece on dating in the social media age: “We are told we can’t show vulnerability so we never admit our true feelings. We get out before we get hurt. We then move on to our next “match” as if the fairy tale will fall into our laps. We’ll find the perfect person, who will be better than anyone else you see, whom you can be vulnerable with and won’t hurt you, it’ll be an instant, effortless happily ever after.” How does the social media age and dating in this era factor into romance novel writing? Are authors talking earnestly about the grind and game playing of modern-day romance?

Enough about me, enough of my skimming. What are you reading, watching and listening to this week?

Happy new year?

fallen

Most people only celebrate the new year once on January 1. For those of us who still work in a school environment, we are soon kicking off another new year. There is something about the coming rush of students, school buses, and fall that makes me giddy. I enjoy the back-to-school sales with all the fresh notebooks, cases of pens, and ready-to-be-battered-and-abused book bags. For me, this time of year always means a new beginning where we can build off the old (past semester) and move forward. I guess that this means that there will be some new things happening on this blog. My goal is to post at least once every two weeks. (I’m aiming low so I can impress myself and you dear reader if I do more.) I blog in a few places on the web, and I have been lax this summer, enjoying my time off instead of trying to scramble a few words for a post. This fall, I plan on doing better here and there. So, what about you? What do you think about fall? What are your goals for this fall?