Losing Your Mind on Social Media?

This morning I came across an interesting article in one of my LinkedIn Groups, Book Marketing (amidst so many others that are not – at least to me). The author, Kirsten Oliphant, writes about the overwhelm many of us experience these days with Social Media (SM) and how to choose which ones will work best for each of us. As I read the article, knots formed in my stomach. I admit I’m not tech-savvy in the world of SM and just reading about it gives me the willies. She makes a good point, though, at the beginning, about struggling with mastering SM and balancing the marketing we do there with finding time to write.

She provides three options: 1) Hire out (don’t know about you but I certainly can’t afford this option), 2) gripe and procrastinate (welcome to my world), and 3) master and manage (oh, here come the willies again). While she makes valid arguments for all three, I’m focused on the third, master and manage. If only I could learn, understand, and utilize at least a couple of SM to my advantage as a writer.

Good news: Kirsten provides a free resource guide describing many platforms in detail, so that even I, the un-savvy, can understand and utilize SM. She also provides sensible advice: choose one or two platforms you’re comfortable with and start with those. And maybe use only those, as she does advocate not going hog crazy and trying to be everywhere and everything on SM. This makes sense to me, as it allows for time to write (and work a full-time job since writing has not yet completely replaced the J-O-B lifestyle).

Still, I’ve not heard of some of the SM sites she mentions and I’m likely to stay with what’s familiar (Facebook, etc.). I’m toying with opening a Twitter account; have any of you found it to be useful for your published works? I’m just not a big fan of being “followed” by anyone, and evidently I have to follow others first for that to happen. And by nature I tend not to follow others – rather, I prefer to take my own, less-traveled road, so I don’t know if Twitter is right for me. Which means I need to read her booklet in more detail, because who knows what I may discover. Perhaps I’ll find a SM site that doesn’t overwhelm or confuse me; perhaps I’ll discover an inroad to a new marketing adventure. Regardless, I know I’ll learn something that can help me to the next step in the process, all the while not losing my mind over the there-are-too-many-options-to-choose-from menu of Social Media.

You can check out the full article here.

A Feast of Words for Your Palette

I just finished reading a lovely little book titled “A Feast at the Beach” by Willaim Widmaier. In the book he shares childhood memories of his summers in Provence, France (what a terrible childhood he had) with his grandparents. What I enjoyed most was that he included some delicious, old-world, mouth-watering French recipes that his grandparents served in their cozy cottage in St. Tropez. The recipes made his story come more alive for me while I envisioned the smells, tastes, and colors of the delectable dishes. It’s the kind of book I’ve not read often but enjoy when I happen upon one. (This one was a freebie offered at a recent writer’s meetup, so of course I took advantage.)

Another book I discovered several years ago, titled “How to Cook a Dragon: Living, Loving, and Eating in China,” details the life and food adventures of a Japanese woman (who is also a journalist) living in China. It’s a poignant tale laced with the most scrumptious recipes for authentic Chinese cuisine not seen here in America, unless you’re Chinese and cook them at home. Aside from the food, the story is delightful and a highly recommended read.

I enjoy books like these because they bring together food, family, friends, and their stories. I love to eat good food, share it with family and friends, and write/tell stories. They are the parts of life that bind together families, friends, and occasionally strangers. Not to mention that the authors are generous enough to share fabulous recipes with the world – and I am more than happy to take what they have given and add them to my kitchen repertoire. Language, food, and family are fundamentally tied together and books like these remind me of that. Makes me want to plan a family picnic and have everyone bring a family recipe dish. 

The books I mentioned here also use language (names and ingredients of the recipes, conversations between characters in the books) as part of the story – in these cases, French and Mandarin respectively. Because I also love languages (and have studied/dabbled in several over the course of my life), I see how it connects food to culture and people. It has always fascinated me, the way culture/language develop around the various cuisines of the world. That’s why I like Anthony Bourdain’s shows (on CNN) – he connects food with people and their cultures, and makes the food seem all that much more delicious.

Do you have a story to share where food is the centerpiece? I started writing a draft for a cookbook/family photo album years ago and it’s still a work in progress. But I love that every time I work on it, I’m taken down memory lane and get to re-live so many of the delicious made-from-scratch recipes I grew up eating. If you have a story like that to tell, don’t keep it to yourself, share it. Share it and let the world revel in the smells, tastes, and colors of your life story.

 

The Legend of White Thunder

For those who are not yet familiar with my work, I’m posting a FREE PREVIEW of a portion of one of my favorite chapters from my first novel adventure, Rescue on White Thunder. Originally, this particular character was not a part of the story; he came along at the right time and the rest of the story developed around him and his Native traditions. It’s the part of the writing process I enjoy most – the unexpected meanders and turns we writers take on the storytelling journey to entertain and enlighten.
 

Chapter 3: The Legend of White Thunder

(Amazon, copyright 2012 D. Thunderhawk All rights reserved)
 
“Leonard Laughing Bear is a six-foot man in his mid-fifties with a stout build and broad shoulders designed for carrying the weight of the world. Hair as thick as a Berber carpet flows freely down his back and is streaked with gray between strands of deep black. The lines on his face are a roadmap to the life history of an experienced elder. His left knee is bowed outward so when he walks he tilts a little to the left. His eyes are small, dark beads that glow with an intensity and hint of a deeper knowing, and are bordered by prominent cheekbones that seem carved from rock. He is a soft-spoken man with a velvety-toned voice that draws people in to listen attentively. He is a gifted storyteller.
three flames bullets 
Upon entering the library, Annie followed signs that read “Story Hour with Laughing Bear – All Ages Welcome,” down the east hall to Reading Room A. Inside, children of various ages vied for space up front and closest to a small stage set with a mission-style wooden chair. A leather fringed bag rested on the seat next to a microphone and stand; a gourd rattle and rain stick lay on the floor next to the chair. Adults, most likely parents of the excited children, Annie assumed, leaned against walls at the rear of the room on either side of the door. Annie joined them, not knowing what to expect. There was electricity in the air. A moment later, Leonard Laughing Bear stepped up on to the stage from behind a curtained-off area and a hushed silence fell over the room. The children sat cross-legged and leaned in, their faces beaming with anticipation.
 
Leonard opened the leather bag and removed a deerskin wrap containing a bundle of dried sage and cedar and a large fan fashioned of six eagle feathers drawn together with rawhide – one for each direction, and the Sky Beings and Mother Earth. He lit the singed end of the bundle and fanned the sweet, pungent curls of smoke first over himself and then over the crowd seated before him, speaking in a language they did not understand. When he finished, he dowsed the bundle in a small plate of sand placed on the floor at his feet. When the bundle no longer glowed, he carefully packed away the deerskin wrap and its sacred contents. He pulled a hand-carved cedar flute from the bag and placed the bag on the floor. Leonard sat in the chair, flute in his lap, and pulled the microphone closer, adjusting the height for maximum amplification. No one moved or made a sound.
 
Leonard spoke slowly, ritualistically. “Welcome children, parents, everyone, to Story Hour. My name is Leonard Laughing Bear. I am also called Wahúnkh-têshi, Keeper of the Spirit Cave. The sacred medicine bundle and prayers have been passed down to me by my mother’s people. My people, the Uşkéwah , have lived on this land for more than four thousand years,” he emphasized, sweeping his arm over the attentive crowd and gesturing with four fingers, “under the watchful eye of Washīshi Tetŭ and his children, who live on White Thunder Mountain in the Spirit Cave. Now I know many of you have heard the story of the Thunder Beings and maybe some of you do not believe, but I tell you, they do exist. So I will tell you the story of the Thunder Beings and how they watch over us humans. My mother and her mother before her, and so on back through time, have been the guardians of our oral tradition and now I pass it on to you.”
three flames bullets

“It came to pass long ago, before there were white people, when my people lived in peace and harmony with the land,” he began, leaning forward, sweeping his eyes across the front row of children, who seemed to barely breathe as he spoke, “When the Great Thunderbird, Washīshi Tetŭ, came to live on White Thunder Mountain.”

“It was during the Moon of the Drying Grass,” he continued, “when warriors were heading home from their hunts. Women readied for tanning the hides of animals the warriors brought back with them, and prepared a tipi for smoking the meat that would provide food for the people in the long winter that was to come. Others harvested roots and mushrooms.”

 Leonard paused, as if in deep thought, then continued, a note of foreboding in his voice. “One day, two of the young women, Woman With Fire and Talking Bird, were gathering mushrooms and wild turnips on the edge of their winter camp. Storm clouds raced in to cover the blue sky, leaving Woman With Fire and Talking Bird in darkness.”

three flames bullets
Leonard didn’t skip a beat. “Woman With Fire, a name given to her because she was strong-willed and outspoken, looked up to the sky and saw Nahünķpt′a, the Night Rider, a dark and powerful bird with red flames for eyes and talons so sharp they could tear a human to shreds with one swipe. Nahünķpt′a was a selfish creature who wished for dominion over all the lands as well as the sky, and he would kill any human who took from his land.” Leonard closed his eyes and drew in a deep breath as he vividly remembered how his mother used to tell him the story of the Evil One Who Was Dropped from the Sky.”
 
 

Conscious Writing as Important as Conscious Eating

Conscious Writing – the must-have recipe for success

On the Fan page for my nutrition book, I posted a blog on conscious eating. In writing that blog, an idea formed in my mind that we, as writers, must also write consciously. Not that we’re sleeping while we write, mind you; it’s more about being present, relevant, and aware of our work in quality and quantity. We’re all so busy racing to Twitter, to post to Pinterest, Google+ and too many other online venues to get our work noticed that we each lose something along the way. Much of our vocabulary has changed to a texting-style spelling (you, too is now u2, and so on) to save time and in the process, some have lost the ability to express thoughts and ideas clearly. Hence the concept of ‘conscious writing.’

A food recipe lists the ingredients, the quantity of each ingredient, and how many people it will serve. Conscious writing is no different. Your main topic is the recipe and each point you make to support your topic is one of the ingredients. Once all the points are covered, you have a recipe for a complete article/book/blog. As for how many people it will serve, that will depend on your ability to market your writing – be it a blog, a book, etc. Also, the quality of the recipe/story needs to be relevant and interesting. Don’t forget about good grammar and spelling (as they too, have all but disappeared from many a blog/article) – use spell check and thesaurus religiously to weed out homonyms and incomplete or run-on sentences. (In other words, get out of the habit of writing as you speak.)

In a recent blog on Puttylike, a website for self-described “multipotentialites,” I read an article (several times already today) titled, “I saw it as the one defining principle of my life that kept me from achieving greatness.” It’s a must-read for anyone out there who’s not sure where they fit in the bigger scheme of things, especially in the world of writing.

That being said, I’d like to add my opinion (remember, I’m an expert on it) that the more varied a life we live, the more interesting our writing will be, since we have a wider range of subject matter from which to choose. Unlike all those so-called experts who spend their adult lives specializing in only ONE area of interest and are unable to see how their expertise is connected to many other areas, our recipes/stories are both unique and relevant.

And hopefully conscious.

Conscious Marketing

And it dawned on me that marketing, advertising and PR are a part of that recipe, the conscious writing process. How can I give my work to the world if I don’t know how to package it? What are the ingredients (a dash of marketing, a sprinkle of advertising, and two tablespoons of PR) that make up a good dish/story? It’s different for each of us. Every now and then, someone shares a few unique approaches/recipes for success. In her blog, Build Book Buzz, Sandra Beckwith shares with her readers a wonderful little success story about how one woman came up with some different ways to sell herself and her book. You can read about her unique approaches here.

I met with a friend on Tuesday to brainstorm and he told me about a friend of his who wanted to get her book into Barnes and Noble. So what did she do? Did she take the traditional route of hawking her wares to the book buyers? Not even close. She simply walked into a local B&N store and left a copy of her book on a shelf. Then, when someone went to buy the book, they couldn’t because it wasn’t in the system. The clerk had to add the book to the system and they had to buy copies, since there was a demand.

Talk about conscious marketing!

Famous Book Translated to Indigenous Languages

This does my heart good – to see mainstream, classical literature help break down the barriers between the red and white worlds of this land…

From Indian Country Today:

‘CHARLOTTE’S WEB’ IN NATIVE TRANSLATION

E.B. White’s classic children’s tale Charlotte’s Web has been translated into Tsalagi and Cherokee syllabery. The translator, Myrtle Driver Johnson, is a Beloved Woman of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee who grew up on a farm in North Carolina’s Big Cove Community not unlike the farm that White owned in Maine. The book will be limited to a run of 201 copies; one will go to the White estate and the other 200 will be used by students at the New Kituwah Academy.

The Write Stuff

With the explosion of freelancing sites like Fiverr, Freelancer, ODesk and too many others to name here, writing for other people has become prolific, a phenomenon even. I (and I’m sure you, too) struggle to stand out among the gazillion freelance writers now available at our fingertips. The quality of said writing, however, has reduced drastically in the rush for people around the globe to become qualified, paid writers with access to the world. You can check a multitude of websites and you will find more grammatical errors  than you can shake a stick at, including articles on the venerated Associated Press site. Not to mention the poor English skills (reading, writing, and speaking), an issue not uncommon right here in the U.S.

My biggest pet peeve in this writing explosion is overuse of the word “thing.”In one AP article I read some years ago, I counted sixty-four uses of the word in ONE article. That’s discouraging, since AP is reputed to have excellent, intelligent journalists on staff. In a Constitutional Law class I took for my Criminal Justice program, our professor (then Democratic Speaker of the House or something like that) basically outlawed the use of this ubiquitous noun. He told us it represented an inability to properly express ourselves. Since then, I have made a conscious effort to use the word as little as possible. Instead, I opt to restructure my sentences with stronger noun-verb connections to better illuminate my messages.

So I ask again, how do I (you) make my (your) work stand out? For one, by sticking to my (your) principles. I refuse to dumb myself down to appease the masses. My fiction novel, Rescue on White Thunder, was once referred to as parochial (by a friend, if you can believe it). My immediate response to her was that since the literacy level in the U.S. is at the 6th grade level, my book had a wider target market. (snicker snicker)

I’m bombarded by LinkedIn discussions (via emails from my LinkedIn groups) by many so-called experts in book marketing/sales. Yet I’ve not heard of any of these people (not that I know many to begin with), and I certainly have not heard of any of their books. Everyone’s an expert these days (more like a marketing tool than an actual accomplishment, I believe). A professor in medical school (a different degree program) once jokingly told our class that he’s an expert – but only in his opinion. It was then I realized ALL experts are just that – someone who is accomplished in his/her field and publicly shares their interpretation of the information.  That’s it. You can pick any field, anywhere on the planet, and you won’t find a hoard of experts who will all agree to the same information. It’s all in the interpretation of data. Which takes me back to my original issue of being recognized for my work. At this point, all I can do is continue to write and publish my books and stick to my principles. That gets my name out there in various circles, since each book (so far) has been in a different genre. That’s the “write stuff” for me.

 

 

Welcome to Mestengo Books

Welcome to Mestengo Books, a gathering place for my works of fiction and nonfiction. I wracked my brain for hours to come up with a good name to represent me and my books. With so many blogs/sites already out there, it’s difficult to come up with something original. The horse, for some reason, has been a totem animal in my life for, well, all of my life – since childhood. Mustangs, of course, are my favorite. They’re a hardy breed, borne of Spanish bloodlines, and have survived the wilds of the Americas for centuries. The name mustang itself (a popular one and obviously already taken for many blogs/sites) has a neat history. It comes originally from an old Spanish word mestengo (16th century, according to Wikipedia) that translates to wild, stray, ownerless. I knew the moment I saw the meaning I’d found the title I’d searched for all day. And anyone who knows me well enough can certainly attest to the fact that I am, without a doubt, una mestenga.

Powwow Pic of Me2

I do hope you enjoy reading, as I enjoy the writing. Stay in touch.