Where in the world is Cassandra Page?

(Ok, the title is a reference to Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego, which you’re all no doubt too young to get. With your clothes. And your music. *shakes walking stick*)

Carmen Sandiego

Carmen Sandiego – straight from the 1980s. Woo!

The last week has been big with the crazy around my place. My son started preschool, and the same day we drove to Sydney so he could have his eyes tested at the eye hospital there. The results were a bit of a shock: it turns out he’s night blind.

Sort of explains why he’s afraid of the dark. 😦

He’s fine and it’s not degenerative, so it could be much, much worse. But it took me a day or two to adjust my thinking to the whole idea.

Also, my phone line and ADSL have been down. Hopefully by the time you’re reading this they are back, but I’m drafting this post using a 3G dongle I just bought. It feels as slow as dial up did back in the day, although without that charming screech when it connects. (Speaking of the stone age…)

Anyway, I have been kicking around the rest of the internet during my absence here. Spefically there are three places I’ve been lurking this past week — in case you missed me trying and mostly failing to share the links on my phone.

Today I posted the Aussie Owned and Read Valentine’s Day poll. (Yes, I know it’s a day early  — shush.) You may recall that I had a blog post up last month calling for nominations. Well, this is where the final battle will be fought. With heart-shaped pillows and arrows made of chocolate. Or something.

On Sunday I made a cameo at Laura Catherine’s blog, talking about the many wonders of scheduling everything from tweets to emails to blog posts (ahem).

And on Monday I was K. A. Last’s guest over at her blog. I talked about using the everyman, familiar cultures and familiar myths as a way of grounding your speculative fiction reader.

I’ll try to be more organised in future. I promise. xo

Three things not to do on Twitter

This is an actual, genuine, bona fide post by me! I know, right?! After all the guest posts I guess you thought I’d abandoned you. I’m drafting this in a haze of aching limbs and dust clouds, but we’ve done a major amount of packing and cleaning and I’m taking a break.

And sitting. Love the sitting.

Anyway, here are three things I’ve noticed lately on Twitter that bug me. Don’t do them, mkay?

Don’t do it, or the bird gets it.

1.       Only tweeting about your product

If someone follows me, I always have a look at their tweets. If all I see are links to or promos about whatever product they are selling (usually a book, because that’s the Twitter circle I move in), I don’t follow back.

I’m not saying don’t promote your stuff. But try and limit yourself to a couple of tweets a day: once in the morning and once in the evening. That way you catch folks in different timezones without being obnoxious. And try and mix up the tweets you use to do any promoting; if I’m on at the same time every day and see the same tweet from you at the same time, I’m going to notice. Scheduling is a fantastic tool (I use it all the time) but try not to be too obvious about it!

Talk to people. Try and keep a healthy ratio of chatting and useful links to your promo stuff: I’ve seen it suggested that you aim for five other tweets to every one promo tweet.

The trick is to make people think you’re people too. Because people want to follow people. 😉

2.       Complaining when people don’t reciprocate the Twitter love

There are a bunch of different weekly hashtags that people use to do shout outs to their followers or to people they think others should follow. For example, on Wednesday there’s #WW (WritersWednesday) and on Friday there’s #FF (FollowFriday).

The other day I got offended on others’ behalf when I saw someone complaining a person they’d done a #FF shout out for had gone for “lesser reciprocation” by only favouriting the tweet with the #FF, rather than doing a #FF back.

Maybe they did it because they were busy, and wanted to say thank you via the favourite. Maybe it never occurred to them to #FF the complainer back, or they didn’t have time. Maybe they are in fact rude.

But never, ever, ever complain on Twitter about it. It makes you look ungracious, and like you’re only promoting others for personal gain. That’s a secret best kept between you and your cat. Complain to them instead: they won’t mind. (Hell, they’re a cat; they’ll just ignore you.)

3.       The old follow/unfollow trick

When you hit 2000 follows on Twitter (folks you follow, not your followers), it imposes a ratio limit. You can’t follow more than 10% more people than follow you. So if I hit 2000 follows, and only have 1600 followers, I can’t follow anyone else till my follower number creeps up to at least 1819. (I think I’ve done the maths right. I’m tired!)

There are a few ways you can deal with this: I’m a big fan of using lists to keep track of my favourite celebrities etc rather than following them. But some people follow you in the hope you’ll follow back; if you do, they wait a bit and then unfollow you. That way you count as a follow without them having to increase their own pool of follows.

This is, as the young people say, a dick move. (Do the young people say that?)

If you’re wondering if this has been done to you, I recommend using the web-based app Just Unfollow. It lets you see who you follow who doesn’t follow you, and if you log on once a week or so you can review all your unfollows. It flags the ones you follow, with a handy “unfollow” button so you can kick their butt to the curb. You know, if you wanted to.

(There are other apps that do the same thing. That’s just the one I know about!)

If you’ve found these helpful, you should check out this post by Bad Redhead Media. She is my social media guru.

The problem with timezones, aka “I’m in a competition”…

The problem with being on the opposite side of the planet from the majority of the English-speaking world is that sometimes competitions go live at, say, 4am. I’ve started taking major advantage of scheduling. I use TweetDeck (a free program) to schedule some of my Twitter posts for while I’m asleep and hopefully dreaming of David Tennant in leather pants (hello, Fright Night!), or while I’m at work. WordPress lets you schedule blog posts too, which is awesome.

The gorgeous Stacey and I were chatting about the awesomeness that is the Miss Snark agent blog (which I’ve raved about here before – you can find a link to Her Royal Snarkiness on my Links page). Stacey asked me if I’d heard of Miss Snark’s First Victim, a blog started by the first writer Miss Snark ever critiqued. In the spirit of helping other writers the way she was helped, MSFV runs regular competitons, including the annual Baker’s Dozen and the Secret Agent contents.

So I looked it up and decided I wanted to try my new opening paragraphs in the Secret Agent contest. (I’d try Baker’s Dozen but it’s not till the end of the year!) And of course the window for entries to be received was something like 3am to 7am. On a Tuesday morning.

Google to the rescue! I found a neat little Firefox/Chrome plugin called Boomerang. I like to imagine it was designed by an timezone-challenged Aussie much like myself, given the name, but it also has a feature to resend emails so maybe not. Boomerang works with Gmail and lets you schedule your emails. I searched for the timezone of the contest, figured out the local time to send the email, and kapow! (Also, send!)

Even more excitingly, I’ve been chosen at random by the random number generator gods to be one of the January Secret Agent contest entrants. Take that, timezone differences!

(Let’s take a quick moment out while I hyperventalate at the idea that my words are going to be more widely available than a few beta readers or Pitchwars mentors. It’s only 250 words, but still!)

jack sparrow freaking out


(Ok, I’m done.)

… The only thing is that the entries go live on Wednesday morning. Or Wednesday LATE-o’clock, local time. I don’t think scheduling can help me with this one.

Final score:

Me: 1,
Timezone differences: 1.