Successful Social Media – without zombies

Here are my  (very) rough notes from today’s “Succeeding with Social Media” panel at the Surrey International Writers’Conference” (#siwc2010)

Panelists: Sean Cranberry (, k c dyer on the computer (, Arthur Slade (, James McCann (

Sean Cranberry – Blogs once or twice a week, with a picture. Tries to keep it consistent. Get items out there. Google loves fresh links. domain forwards to Sean likes WordPress because it is very versatile and is continually being updated.

Arthur Slade is a friend fiend on Facebook, where he maintains both his personal Facebook page, and a fan page that can be accessed by people who don’t have Facebook. Slade describes himself as a late adopter of Twitter, and says within 2-3 months of getting on Twitter he realized  its value in building community.

James McCan blogs at at He was on Google blogger  but wanted more control so now has his own blog using WordPress. He also has a podcast series “authors like us” on his website. He says audio has become a new blogging form – people listen on subway, over lunch, etc. James uses Mac’s Garage Band to edit audio files. Other panel members use Audacity or garage band. James does 20- 30 minute podcasts. Listen to authorslikeus.

Podcast – audio broadcast on internet.

Arthur Slade podcasts, not consistently, but because the podcast stays on his website and visitors can listen any time, people are still listening. He has 16 podcasts and presently gets 2000 listeners a month.  Hasn’t added any recently but keeps getting listeners coming back. Good community-building.

Sean Cranberry finds people really love audio – 20 to 30 min -podcasts.  Discussion about ideal length of audio podcasts vs video. Video of more than 2-3 minutes less likely to get lots of listeners., but audio 20 min+ very popular.

Discussion of using RSS feeds to track podcasts. Can use feed aggregators like google reader to be sure you don’t miss podcasts from people you follow.

Podcasts are promotion, do for free. James gets 3000 listeners a month. That’s amazing.

One of the panelists mentioned that having the word Zombie in a blog title got him massive hits – probably not a marketing tip that will work for all writers, but I put the word in the title of this blog as a test.

Having blog on your site keeps site fresh on Google.

Arthur does school author visits and Skype author visits. Dabble board. Arthur charges appearance fees for schools. With Skype, he also bills the schools.

James does school appearances, usually about $300 an hour.
Podcasts are promotion, do for free.

Arthur – payoff of online community is readers.
Sean – building credibility, community, an audience.

Discussion of advantage of Mac vs windows – Sean switched to Mac because of it “not breaking down” like Windows. Interestingly all panelists were Mac users.  Great for memory intensive Programs, said Sean. (I found this particularly interesting because after 20 years using PCs, I’ve just bought a MacBook Pro so that I can use the program Scrivener for my writing)

Question – how do youget people to follow you. Arthur: Follow them, then ask people to be friend. Be in different groups, like scribechat. All get on and talk about a topic for an hour.

Sean – you need a blog. Put up your ideas, could be 100 words and image. Get on twitterworld and say “Hey, here’s my blog. Then same thing with facebook. Follow people you want to follow you. When you see them tweet interesting stuff, retweet it.

Hashtags # – the coat hanger of Internet in Twitter. For example #siwc2010.  Create a hash tag and start using it to allow others to quickly find and comment on a topical discussion.

What is a tweet up – group on Twitter  using the same hash tag (do tweetup people all tweet at once? I wasn’t clear. Maybe someone can reply to this and explain how a tweetup works.)

Tumbler, hot new blog site. Very short, propels many readers, sells books

How to reduce time doing this stuff! (that’s what I want to know. I enjoy blogging, tweeting, and just talking, but this stuff can use up a massive amount of time!)

Arthur – use tweetdeck or grizzly to post on all platforms at once.  To avoid having social media eat into writing time, Arthur uses his iPad for social media in front of TV, tries not to use writing time or same computer for social media

James – Facebook maniac. No privacy on Facebook. Facebook fan page gives writer more control. Also visitors can access facebook fan page without being part of facebook, owner can ban people, won’t get notifications of every visitor, but can get stats. You can also use targeted advertising on a Facebook fan page.

Arthur – Facebook is totally promotion.

Sean – where to begin social networking as a writer:  Blog. Use wordpress. Get a URL that embodies your content.

Q: Who do you put on your blogroll?
A: Places you think are really influential.
A: several authors in audience and some panelists said they don’t have a blogroll.

URL shortener – takes link thru bottleneck.

Sean uses concepts for his website. Series of licenses you can agree to share alike, give attributions and link back.

Q: should a writer buy a URL for each book?
A: Arthur buys URL for a series, not for each book. Sean – no.
James doesn’t buy separate URL for book. Might do, it’s an idea for future.

Speakers final tips

Arthur – web is a community.  Remember you’re building a community, not a sell line. Read “Power friending” by Amber Mac who writes for the Globe and Mail.

James – don’t post anything you don’t want mom reading.

Sean – you have the imagination and will, you can figure out technology. Facebook and Twitter love cool photos of things Sean is doing. Craft your personality, invent a persona.

Q: how long do you spend on Internet daily?
A: Arthur – during intense work on book, no time; otherwise 1 to 1.5 hours a day
A: Sean, probably 8 hours a day, but not writing a book right now.

Sean final thought – social media best used when you can meet these people in person.

These are my rough, random notes taken during the session, but this session is being podcast, so check at Sean’s website or follow #siwc2010 on Twitter for a link to the podcast.

Have a good day

About writing Stray Lady

Stray LadyI got the idea for Stray Lady while I was writing my fifth romance novel,  Jenny’s Turn. I needed someone to shake Jenny out of her hopeless love for Jake, and get her far enough away for Jake to realize how much she meant to him. I reached for inspiration and Jenny’s phone rang. When she picked it up, there was her cousin George. Like Jake – the hero of Jenny’s Turn – I didn’t realize at first that George was a woman.

George and her guitar caused me quite a bit of trouble while I was writing Stray Lady. Here’s a woman sailing around the world and afraid to stop because she’s running from her grief. George’s story unfolded for me as I wrote Jenny’s Turn and I had to take a firm hand with this restless woman to stop her from taking over her cousin’s romance.

“Just step back,” I told George firmly. “This is Jenny’s story, not yours. I’ll do you next, I promise.”

Once Jenny’s Turn was shipped off to my publisher, I was finally free to let George loose, but as soon as I put her on the page of her own romance, she started causing trouble for me again. How on earth could I get George to stay in one place long enough to fall in love?

I hope readers enjoy  Stray Lady as much as I enjoyed writing it.”

Vanessa Grant

Synopsis of Stray Lady

Shipwreck …

One minute George was sailing single-handed down Canada’s west coast, willing the salt breezes to show her how to go on living without her late husband.

… and rescue

The next she was being pulled from the waves by island lighthouse keeper Lyle Stevens and drawn into a magic existence with Lyle and his daughter. Lyle offered George love and the home she’d never known – but did she have the courage to gamble on love again?

This novel is available in a variety of eBook formats


About writing Dance of Seduction

Ricardo Swan had vowed never to fall victim to irrational passion, but when he saw La Gitana dancing in a Merida night club, the primitive needs he denied were stirred. But although La Gitana was Mexico’s most popular singer and folk dancer, known for the passion of her dance, inside she was frozen. Could Ricardo get past her guardian brothers and her own defenses to find the secret of her heart?

Authors note: “I wrote this book shortly after returning home from an extended 2-year visit to Mexico. The story grew out of my fascination with the strong family values of the Mexican people, and my interest in the romance of flamenco and the mysteries of archeology. I started playing with these and Maria and Ricardo came to life in my imagination. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it :)”

Originally published in hardcover by Mills and Boon Limited.

Now available as an ebook through a variety of online retailers.

Vanessa’s new web page

After years without updating the Vanessa Grant home page, I’m finally bringing it into the 21st Century with a new look and a blog/discussion-board. I’ll be adding all my titles over the next few months, and for those of you who are interesed in writing, some of my favorite resources for writers.

Thanks for stopping by! Feel free to drop in anytime, drop off a comment, talk about romance, writing, or whatever strikes your fancy. Join the discussion – or start a new one – by leaving comments, and stay updated by subscribing to the RSS feed.

And while you’re browsing, stop by the PenWarriors blog where I have fun talking about the writing life with fellow writers Bonnie Edwards, EC Sheedy, Laura Tobias, and Gail Whitiker.

See ya around!


Getting to know Jenny and Georgina again

I’ve been putting off joining the world of blogs …. but I had no idea how much I was missing until my Web project brought me an intimate chat with two of my fictional heroines – Jenny and Georgina.

I’ve been putting off updating my Web site for years while one by one my fellow writers joined the world of blogs and set up a 21st Century Web presence. At first I told myself I didn’t have time. When friends called up their Webmaster or Webmistress to modernize the author pages, I told myself I had no excuse to hire someone else. After all I actually had a professional certificate in Web development, and once upon a time I’d taught a Webmaster certificate program. But my ten-year-old knowledge of the Web world was so sadly out of date it was a hindrance more than a help. I’d somehow managed to avoid blogs and confess that until EC Sheedy and Bonnie Edwards dragged their fellow  Pen Warriors into Twitter during a recent retreat, in my world tweeting was something birds did. Not that I was opposed to tweeting myself, but beyond knowing it was some form of social networking, I hadn’t a clue how to tweet or even why I would want to.

It’s embarrassing to be be an Internet Luddite when only ten years ago I was the tech nerd everyone called when they had computer problems.

Ah, well. I finally got tired of my own excuses and finally, today, I’ve got the web site up again – here’s my first blog on the new Website and I get to share the fun I’ve had today with anyone who stumbles into my virtual kitchen for a chat. Thanks to WordPress I haven’t had to dig into much of the HowTo, and have been able to focus on what I want to say here.

One thing I wanted to do on each of my book pages was to take a few minutes to write about the characters and how I came to know them. Today I’ve put up the pages for Jenny’s Turn and Stray Lady. Recalling how Jenny’s hero came to me while I was taking an instructional media course at summer school took me right back to the excitement of that moment when I started to get a feel for the world the film-maker instructor lived in. Exciting, state of the art, a perfect fit for a passionate, driven, successful, artistic – and yes, a little arrogant – hero. Jake, the hero of Jenny’s Turn was born in that lecture room and I had almost as much fun remembering as I’d had writing the book.

Remembering Jenny inevitably brought me to George, her cousin who started out as a voice on the telephone – at that point both Jake and I believed George was a man – and almost took over Jenny’s book. I rememberedhow I’d just finished writing a scene up on a boat in Massett on the Haida Gwaii islands, and George had been playing her guitar and I felt a guilty falling-in-love-with-the-wrong-person sensation when I realized it was George’s story I wanted to tell. I had some trouble subduing her voice in my mind until I could get Jenny’s story finished and get on to George’s tale in Stray Lady.

The day’s over now and instead of putting up all twenty-five books, I’ve succeeded in getting three up. But I’ve had a wonderful time reminiscing with old friends and smiling over their happy endings. It’s the sort of day where I wouldn’t miss being a writer for anything in the world!


About writing Jenny’s Turn

Jenny's Turn

I got the idea for my fifth romance novel, Jenny’s Turn, when I was a college instructor taking a summer course on instructional media at the University of British Columbia. I had expected the course to be boring, but instead of learning about overhead projectors I learned about the life of a commercial film-maker and it excited me. The course didn’t do much for my skills as a college instructor, but it jump-started my new book by bringing my hero to life. Jake … artistic, passionate, driven and successful. Women loved him, but I needed a special woman who could become the only woman in his life. What if my hero didn’t recognize the right woman when she came along? And just how long should a woman in love wait for her turn? I hope you enjoy reading Jenny’s Turn as much as I enjoyed writing it – and if you’re wondering what happens to Jenny’s cousin Georgina, check out Stray Lady where George is forced to stay in one place long enough to fall in love.

Vanessa Grant

Originally published in hardcover by Mills and Boon Limited.

Synopsis of Jenny’s Turn

She’d had enough!

Jake’s talent as a filmmaker made working with him an exciting experience for Jenny, but after five years doing things his way, she’d had enough! She’d fallen hard for Jake and she knew the only way to get over him was to leave Vancouver and get out of his life. So she left – but a Pacific Island just south of Alaska wasn’t nearly far enough to keep Jake away!

Now available as an eBook from a variety of retailers

About writing After All This Time

Carrie Brooke fell in love with her employer, Charles Kantos, the first time she saw him, but she’d always been careful not to let it show. Now she’d ruined it all, and when she woke up in bed with him the morning after his best friend’s wedding, Carrie knew there was only one thing to do – run. But Carrie was Kantos Holdings’s best acquisitions specialist and Charles wasn’t letting her quit.

… about writing After All This Time

“I wrote After All This Time shortly after returning to Vancouver Island from Mexico, where I had been living for two years. Like many of my stories, a number of diverse ideas came together to create the story After All This Time. I’d just spent two years in a strongly family oriented,  laid back, machismo culture. Driving to a friend’s guest house near Vancouver I drove by numerous golf courses which I noticed particularly because there was controversy over a wealthy developer’s plans to build a new golf course on farmland near my new home. And last – or perhaps I should say first of all, I’d years ago shared a table at a writer’s event with another romance writer who said one day she wanted to open a book with the heroine in bed with the hero. Personally, I’d always preferred to let my hero and heroine develop some chemistry first, but … well, it was different with Charles and Carrie. I hope you enjoy reading this book as much as I enjoyed writing it.” Vanessa Grant

Originally published in hardcover by Mills and Boon Limited.

Available as an eBook for Kindle and Other Devices

Welcome to my new Web site

After years without updating the Vanessa Grant home page, I’m finally bringing it into the 21st Century with a new look and a blog/discussion-board. I’ll be adding all my titles over the next few months, and for those of you who are interesed in writing, some of my favorite resources for writers.

Thanks for stopping by! Feel free to drop in anytime, drop off a comment, talk about romance, writing, or whatever strikes your fancy. Join the discussion – or start a new one – by leaving comments, and stay updated by subscribing to the RSS feed.

And while you’re browsing, stop by the PenWarriors blog where I have fun talking about the writing life with fellow writers Bonnie Edwards, EC Sheedy, Laura Tobias, and Gail Whitiker.

See you around!


From geek to dinosaur

Last week I gave up trying to “renovate” my old Web site, and decided to start again from scratch using WordPress.

The good thing is that I now have a site that supports a blog and is easy for me to update without having to drag my Web programming skills out of the dark ages. The bad thing is that I don’t have any writers’ resources on the site.  Or is that actually a good thing, because I have one more virtuous activity to substitute for writing when I’m not sure which words to put in my characters’ mouths? It’s a lot more fun than cleaning the refrigerator – one of the alternatives!

I’ll be optimistic and plan to both add the resources and write the novel. Meanwhile feel free to look around, leave a comment, and have a good day!


About writing Storm – the Author’s Cut

Storm is my second novel, the story of Luke and Laurie falling in love on the magical islands of Haida Gwaii in British Columbia. Luke and Laurie have always had a special place in my heart, and the storm that drew them together symbolized many coastal adventures I’ve shared with my husband.

When I wrote Storm, I set the story on the Queen Charlotte Islands of British Columbia, islands originally named after the wife of the British King George III without regard to the fact that the indigenous First Nations had already named their islands. In 2009 the province of British Columbia signed a historic reconciliation agreement with the Haida Nation, and the islands were renamed Haida Gwaii. Because the romance in Storm is so much a part of the heritage of Haida Gwaii, I wanted to bring the story forward into the 21st Century.

In bringing the islands forward to the present day, I’ve taken artistic license with regard to logging on Lyell Island. A few years after the book was originally published, a national park was established and the Gwaii Trust was given the task of managing the forests. Because logging itself is not central to the story, I’ve taken the artistic license of leaving the logging camp on Lyell Island

… Vanessa Grant

Synopsis of Storm – the Author’s Cut

She had become what others wanted – could he help her find herself?

Broadcaster Laurie Mather wanted desperately to be aboard Luke Lucas’s seaplane when he flew out on a search-and-rescue mission off the treacherous coast of northern British Columbia – for professional reasons, but also for deeply rooted personal reasons.But when she pressured Luke into accepting her presence, she had no idea that she was Luke’s private fantasy, a warm living voice he listened to on lonely flights – but one he had no desire to turn into reality.When Laurie succeeded in talking her way aboard Luke’s plane, her well-ordered life was changed forever.

Print version available from Amazon
eBook versions also available