Why are bees yellow?

bee

So you’re a writer, I see. But tell me, does anyone read your books?

Not yet. But that’s the whole point of getting onto social networks, you see. I’ve got a blog to publicise my writing, and I’m using Twitter to –

Stop! 140 characters max. Short, sharp, to the point. What’s your message to these readers you’re looking for?

Um… One Green Bottle. Available for just $4 free for next 5 mins. Don’t miss this amazing opportunity. Get it now. And I mean #now!

And you think they’ll fall for that? Oh, Bausse, whom no one’s ever heard of, has written a book. I really must read it. Very likely!

Well, how else am I going to become famous and earn a zillion dollars?

Subtlety, Bausse, subtlety! Slip it into a conversation unobtrusively.

OK, I get it! Must admit I’m pretty green when it comes to Twitter. Green as a bottle, in fact. Which reminds me: One Green Bottle avail-

Good try, but no. Look, check out today’s blogging 201 task. You’ll see for example that the best tweets are in the form of questions.

Ah, that’s interesting. Let’s see now… Has anyone else been wondering why so many bottles are green?

Good luck with that one. You’re not very good at this, are you? Have you joined any Twitter chats?

No, but I’m going to join #greenwater. It’s about algae but I’m sure they won’t mind if mention bottles.

Can I make a suggestion, Bausse? Why don’t you sign up for Pinterest?

Roll up! Roll up!

platform

He was building a platform. You can’t be a writer without one – so he’d been told. The problem was he didn’t know what sort to build, let alone how to build it. Some sort of stage, perhaps. He’d stand and perform – a juggling act. Toss words into the air and they’d come down in the right order. Hopefully.

Eventually, if he practised enough, he’d get spectators. How many? 300 by the end of the year? Yes, that would be a good goal.

He’d have to perfect the juggling though. Add variety, special effects, be up there every day, if only for a few minutes. Eventually build a whole routine, so they’d know which bits they liked best. He already had a couple – Thursday Interview, Pic’n’Post, every so often an update on the WIP too. But the rest was vague, so that was a second goal – refine the acts and print a big poster, ABOUT, so passers-by could take one look and see what was in the show.

Not that he’d hold their attention all the time. Quite understandable – they had so much to do. Some might come back regularly, though, see how the routine evolved. And he’d get to know them, swap a few stories, and they’d be more than spectators, they’d be friends. Goal number three. You couldn’t put a number on that, though. It happened or it didn’t. It wasn’t quantity but quality.

For the moment, in any case, the platform wasn’t even built. And when you’re hopeless at DIY, that in itself is a challenge.

I tweet, therefore I am

tweet

In its way, Book Country is a social network too, a sort of club where writers chat, critique and connect. And when I reviewed In Search of the Hercules, by Marlin Williams, he did the same for One Green Bottle, and we connected. Both he and his wife are extremely supportive, and they believe in OGB as much as I do – probably more, in fact, given that they’re not stricken by regular crises of doubt, as I am. Shiela is even going through it now with an editor’s eye, pointing out typos, errors of usage, and other infelicities. As any writer knows, feedback like that is invaluable. So it’s one of those situations where you can’t say thank you enough because all the thanks in the world remain inadequate.

Anyway, Marlin suggested one day I should do PitMad. I thought he’d got the wrong person at first, but I soon discovered it’s not about Pit Bull Terriers, it’s a Twitter thing. Every so often, writers are given a chance to pitch their work to publishers and agents within a given 24-hour period. So now there are whole blog posts about how to pitch a novel in 140 characters.

But to do that, obviously, you need a Twitter account. It was surprisingly easy to set up, and within a few minutes I’d sent my first tweet, which was a silly tweet about sending my first tweet. In fact, most of my first tweets were silly. Then I thought an agent, if ever they looked, might not want to represent someone silly, so I switched to poetry. Most of the poems were uplifting (even if a few silly ones crept in). And I started getting likes, and retweets, and followers, and it was all incredibly exciting.

And then I started this blog, and I haven’t tweeted since (except for the blog post titles, which go there automatically). Because blogging is actually far more fun than tweeting, which basically only serves to remind me I’m not Oscar Wilde. My wife informs me that unless you have at least 3000 followers on Twitter, you’re a nobody. I find that strangely comforting. At the present rate, I have a good chance of becoming a somebody shortly before I die.

Meanwhile, I’d best start preparing my pitch for the next PitMad. Sorry, I mean #PitMad.

A Million Windows

Malaysia 09 293

The lift came to a halt. Stepping out, he found himself in a courtyard, surrounded by high-rise buildings. In the gaps between the buildings, other buildings loomed, each one a hundred storeys or more, as far as the eye could see.

He spun round slowly, taking in the scene. The sheer number of windows. All dark. All the same. There must be as many again that he couldn’t see. Hundreds of thousands. Millions.

And I’m supposed to find my way around here?

He stepped back into the lift. He was about to press the button when a voice called, ‘Hey, Curtis!’ A young woman approached. Frizzy black hair. Glasses. ‘You leaving already?’ She had a friendly, welcoming expression which he liked instantly.

‘Must have got out at the wrong floor. I pressed 101 and… Well, it’s just too big, you know? I’m going back. Underground.’

‘Wait. Let me show you something.’ With a sweeping gesture, she indicated the buildings. ‘You’re right – kinda frightening, huh? And they all look the same. But they’re not. Hundreds of windows on every storey and behind each window the story’s different.’ Her features spread into a 🙂 ‘Here.’ She handed him a bag. ‘A welcome present – a survival kit. There’s a load of gizmos inside – we call them widgets. This one for example.’ She held it up and pressed. A laser beam hit one of the windows. It lit up instantly, revealing a bright interior and someone inside, waving. She did the same with a few other windows. ‘See? They’re all different. Now look at this.’

She showed him a catalogue. Rooms, furniture, interior decoration. ‘Choose one you like. That one? Twenty-eleven. Fine. You can change it later if you want. What’s more important is what you make of it anyway.’ She gave him a key. ‘It’s waiting for you. Just go up and play with that bag of widgets. If you need any help, you can give me a call. Name’s Michelle, by the way.’

He soon discovered there were people at every window, beams of light flashing all over, forming a vast, interconnected, ever-changing cluster. A whole galaxy at his fingertips. ‘Hmm, Faraday’s Candle – I like that. And Losing Screws looks cool. Oh, and Hogrider Dookes is Welsh, like me! And there’s umpteen things going on there…’

A week or so after taking up residence, he didn’t feel quite so lost. On the other hand, he realised, it would be quite easy to get lost – so much going on, so many things to see. Maybe it was time to take stock. What was it now he was really interested in? Ah, yes, writing. Or maybe not. Maybe it was just people.