Yes, Agents Google Writers

Welcome to Twitter Treasure Thursday! Earlier this week, I met up with a fellow writer to discuss the importance of building their author platform (blogging, Twitter, Facebook, etc.). As we chatted, I explained to him how nowadays most literary agents expect writers to have these social media sites up and running before they’re published.

twitter-icon-with-books-230x299Ironically, the day I went to meet my friend to discuss this topic, I came upon an article by literary agent, Carly Watters. In it, she explains why building an author platform is so important. She also offers excellent tips for how to approach and handle various social media websites.

Yes, Agents Google Writers

Agents have changed their mind about an author after searching them online. Yikes! How do you avoid that? Making sure you don’t have websites or blogs that are ghost towns. Post regularly. And regularly can mean whatever works for you (once per week or once a day, but no less than a couple times a month!).

To read the entire article, click here!

For more useful advice, follow Carly Watters on Twitter!

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Photo credit: 

http://ingoodcompany.com/classes/using-social-media-to-build-your-author-platform/

Stop the presses. Literacy isn’t important. Technology is.

“Literacy isn’t important. Technology is.”


Believe it or not, a guest speaker actually spoke these words to over 3,000 teachers last week during an in-service event for one of the nation’s top performing school districts. As you might suspect, the reaction wasn’t positive. In fact, many in the crowd booed this man’s mind-boggling words: Literacy isn’t important.

Literacy. Isn’t. Important.

How…? Why…? How?

This guest speaker went on to declare the four core subjects (math, science, English and history) weren’t a priority either. Furthermore (yeah, there’s a furthermore), he said teachers shouldn’t teach content. They should be motivators. According to him, “Students shouldn’t learn. They should become.”

Yeah

Ironically, this man has written a book about this entire topic. Yet, when asked how anyone could read it if they didn’t know how, he responded, “No worries. It will be read to them.”

Yeah

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Did you know Mr. Guest Speaker that:

  • The United Nations considers it a human right to be literate?
  • “67.4 million children who are out of school are likely to encounter great difficulties in the future, as deficient or non-existent basic education is the root cause of illiteracy.”?
  • According to the CIA, “Low levels of literacy, and education in general, can impede the economic development of a country in the current rapidly changing, technology-driven world.”?

Let me repeat that last quote for you, Mr. Guest Speaker:

“Low levels of literacy, and education in general, can impede the economic development of a country in the current rapidly changing, technology-driven world.” I don’t know about you, but it sounds to me like literacy and technology go hand-in-hand. Doesn’t it? They work together to keep this world spinning. Moving. Progressing.

occupational-therapy-and-assistive-technologyAs you can see (and most of you already know), I’m passionate about this subject. I’m a literacy advocate, a book lover and an imagination builder. I have hundreds of books lining my shelves at home (each cherished dearly), and I don’t go anywhere without a pen or a notebook (ya know, just in case I get a sudden idea for a story). When I visit my nephews, I always encourage them to read a book, put a puzzle together or take flight on the wings of their imagination. And when I see my friends, I always tell them about a book they should read (okay, okay, I sometimes tell the stranger standing in line behind me at the grocery store about a great book, too). And I never stop clapping for those who go to work everyday to teach and motivate our future generations.

But, besides being pro-education, I’m also pro-technology. I love technology. I don’t know what I’d do without it. And I firmly believe it plays a vital role in our society, our educational systems and our future. If used properly, technology can improve communication, share knowledge, expand worlds and connect globally. My God, just look at this blog! I’ve reached thousands of people across the planet with it. I have followers in Australia, Japan, England, Nigeria, Sweden…It’s astounding. I couldn’t do what I do without the technology to back me up. I couldn’t.

However, I also couldn’t do what I do if I didn’t have a strong literate background. And, let me tell you, that literate background wasn’t technologically driven. Most of my schooling took place in the 90’s and early 2000’s, so besides TVs and overhead projectors, my teachers didn’t have much to utilize in the way of technology to educate me. I didn’t even have my first computer class until 7th grade, and I didn’t own a cell phone until my junior year of high school. My classes looked pretty much like this:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA(According to Mr. Guest Speaker, this is a “sad picture”…Yeah, he got more boos and hisses for that one.)

Yet, despite my less than “techie” upbringing, I’ve managed to adapt to our technology-driven society. Well, I’ve more than adapted. I’ve embraced it and made it a part of my life. I’m blogging. I’m active on Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites. I’m a whiz on a Mac, and I just got my first Nook. But do you think I could’ve figured all of that out if I wasn’t literate to start?

Let’s take a moment to think about a couple of things, shall we? Without literacy:

  • This blog wouldn’t exist. How could it? I wouldn’t even know how to type the words I’m typing right now because I wouldn’t know how to s-p-e-l-l them. I also wouldn’t have the critical thinking, problem solving, or certain social skills I needed to get this site up and running. Even those pesky math and science classes I swore “I’d never ever need” played a part in the creation of this blog.
  • Technology wouldn’t exist. Who do you think created all of these wires and circuit boards in the first place? An alien who visited Earth for a summer vaca? An extraterrestrial being who generously decided to share a drop of its genius with humankind?

alien_in_UFO_cartoonSeriously, guys. Traditionally educated–literate–individuals were the ones who got us to where we are today. They used their reading, writing, math and science skills to create our gadget-filled world.

  • Future technology won’t exist. We have fancy-schmancy technology now thanks to those smarty-pants who created it in the first place, but what will happen if schools and educators stop promoting literacy? What new and improved devices will we have in our hands in ten years? 20? 100? What unexplored paths will remain unexplored because nobody had the map to find them?

Okay, so I’m sure by this point some of you might be thinking, “There’s been a miscommunication. Surely Mr. Guest Speaker didn’t really mean literacy isn’t important. He must’ve been trying to prove another point that just didn’t translate well.” Some of the teachers in the audience thought the same thing, so they decided to attend his afternoon session…and they left it even more letdown and confused than before.

 Still not sold? Well, consider this: Mr. Guest Speaker was supposed to be live-streamed on the district’s website for the community to watch. Within five minutes, the plug was pulled (ironic?). Almost a week later, a video has finally gone up, but it isn’t the video filmed that day. If that’s not a red flag, I don’t know what is.

red_flagThis is obviously a subject I’m extremely passionate about. And normally I don’t take on such controversial topics, but I couldn’t let this matter drop without bringing it to other people’s attention. To think there is someone out there declaring literacy is a thing of the past isn’t right. It needs to be stopped. We can’t let future generations be deprived of a well-rounded education. It’s inconceivable and, really, a travesty.

So, if you believe literacy has and always will play an imperative part in our society’s future, please share this article and information with those you know. Blow the whistle and put an end to the idea, “Literacy isn’t important. Technology is.” How about instead we promote, “Literacy and technology work hand-in-hand.”? Or, “Literacy equals technology. Technology equals literacy.”?

One last food for thought: Did Mr. Guest Speaker ever stop to wonder what would happen if the big, almighty plug got pulled someday? Not to get all dystopian and apocalyptic on you guys, but let’s face it: there’s a chance the power could go out someday. Our phones, computers, iPods, Kindles and everything in between might stop working. What will happen then? What will we have? What will society fall back on? Hmm?

Be an advocate for future generations and support literacy!

Related Articles

Musicians kick off campaign to boost literacy

Using Technology to Support Literacy

ENTREVESTOR: Fighting illiteracy is in her genes

Why Learning to Read Early is Crucial for Young Children

Sources

UNESCO

The World Factbook – Central Intelligence Agency

Jen’s Pen Den Is on Facebook

Jen’s Pen Den is on Facebook! So take a moment to stop by and hit “Like”, and then invite your reading and writing friends to join too. On this page, I’ll be posting even more information about books, storytelling, publishing and the rest of the land of make believe.

Check it out here!

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Confession: I’m a Book Lover Advocate

Last night, I took my 3-year old nephew to the Scholastic Book Fair at his pre-school. And it. Was. Awesome! Witnessing his vivid enthusiasm, listening to his incessant chatter, crouching on the ground next to him while he “read”…It was so, so, so cool. I was so proud and giddy and relieved to see him genuinely excited about books. And I was filled with newfound determination to keep him excited about them as he grows up. To be a constant book lover advocate around him and my other nephew.

1000249_10101282759371923_1382787765_nI’ve always been a book lover advocate (shocker, I know). It’s a task I joyfully take on everyday with everyone around me…Unfortunately most people aren’t interested in what I have to say. When I talk about books, people either politely smile and nod, blatantly ignore me, or point blank admit, “I don’t read. Reading is boring.” Reading is boring? I gasp inwardly. How…Just how? Don’t people understand reading is more than reading–more than black words on a white page? Reading is adventurous. Reading is life altering.

Reading is magic!

a788bc012941816bc7643c91e8a93f07I want my nephew to grow up believing in that. I want all children to grow up believing in that. I want my friends and family members and co-workers and acquaintances to believe in that. I want the stranger I’ve never met to believe in that. But the only way to achieve such a thing is to be a book lover advocate. To share my passion for reading via this blog, Twitter and Facebook. To suggest books to those I know. To suggest books to those I don’t know, like the woman in line behind me at the grocery store staring at the rack of newly released novels. To take my nephews and nieces to book fairs. To give books as gifts.

To do whatever it takes to silence the naysayers and eliminate the evil phrase “I don’t read. Reading is boring.” Those words shouldn’t exist!

So, who’s with me? Who’s ready to be a book lover advocate? It’s never too late to join the cause!

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9 Things That Will Help Get Your Novel Published

I think I’m going to start doing “Twitter Treasure Thursday”, because I always seem to find a precious writing gemstone on Twitter on Thursdays. Like today. I found yet another awesome article from Writer’s Digest:

9 Things That Will Help Get Your Novel Published

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I agree with each of these nine things. Not only do they make sense, but I’ve experienced many of them. For example, #1: The Elevator Pitch. Back in 2010, I had a manuscript that went from zero to hero in a single day. No joke. I went from talking to friends and family about my beloved story to a guy at work, to a PR agent in L.A., to a writer’s agent, to a movie producer…Over and over again, I had to sum up my story in a couple of sentences and hope it sounded appealing enough to get these people hooked. And it did. I had an agent within a week, and an option contract in less than a month. Trust me, your Elevator Pitch is key! Just remember to keep it short and sweet, and most importantly, irresistible.

Read more about all nine things that will help get your novel published here!

Confession: I’m a fanatical fan of authors part 2

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a confession about how I’m a HUGE fan of authors. To me, they’re cooler than cool and bigger than any rockstar, movie actor or professional athlete. They’re also one of my biggest role models. As an aspiring author myself, I look up to these writers and hope to someday follow in their successful footsteps. (In case you missed it, here is my original post about this “Ah!” topic).

Yesterday, I had another “EEEEKS!” moment I had to share with you. During a mental break at work, I went on Twitter and decided to reply to a funny Tweet made by Marie Lu.

9275658And guess what? SHE REPLIED!

Screen Shot 2013-10-09 at 2.21.06 PMNeedless to say, I almost had a heart attack at my desk. Smothering my gleeful scream of “Ohmygawd”, I text a good friend who’s also a big fan of Marie Lu.

Her response: “!!!!”

Yes, my thoughts exactly.

Who knew Twitter could be such a magical place? I think I’m going to start keeping an “Ah! They Responded!” list from now on. Yeah? So far, that list contains Jay Asher, Jennifer L. Armentrout and Marie Lu.

Who’s next? 😉

Don’t forget, Champion, the finale to Marie Lu’s Legend series, is set to be released on November 5th!

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