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StumbleUpon is a "discovery engine". Use it to find content recommended by others, and share content to like minded users.

In today’s #AtoZChallenge, the letter “S” is for StumbleUpon.

StumbleUpon is a "discovery engine". Use it to find content recommended by others, and share content to like minded users. www.cherylsterlingbooks.comIf you’ve never heard of StumbleUpon, you’re in the majority. It’s a little known tool, but it does have a few features you might use.

Per Wikipedia:

“StumbleUpon is a discovery engine (a form of web search engine) that finds and recommends web content to its users. Its features allow users to discover and rate Web pages, photos and videos that are personalized to their tastes and interests using peer-sourcing and social-networking principles.”

What does it mean? It’s a way to share and discover content, much the same way Pinterest does.

There are two paths you can take:

  1. Share content. If I like a particular blog on Ireland, and I want other lovers of all things Irish to see it, I’ll click on the thumbs up icon on StumbleUpon’s toolbar. When they click the StumbleUpon under that category, and based on how often it’s been recommended, that site will appear.
  2. Find content. I can choose several categories of interest (I currently have 24, from Bizarre/Oddities to Writing) or a specific category, and hit the StumbleUpon button. Based on other’s likes, a random page from the internet will display. I can use it for ideas (stored under the Likes button, which is another name for folder). I can thumbs up or thumbs down the page.

What I like/don’t like about StumbleUpon

  • It’s randomness. I don’t have time to surf the web. StumbleUpon takes me places I’d never go.
  • The ability to search for a specific category. I can pick Writing and get only writing-related pages.
  • It’s slowness. It takes a few moments to load. If you’re Liking a new page to share, up to 30 seconds can pass as the whirling rainbow icon does its thing.
  • Sometimes it’s not always on point. For this article I “Stumbled” a few times. I found great articles on writing, which I Pinned and will use on Facebook and Twitter, but I also found a review of a Chris Evans movie, and an article on gel pens. Not what I wanted.
  • Sometimes it misses the mark and I’ll get an ad. I really don’t care what’s showing on Entertainment Tonight.
  • There’s no way to search through the categories. I’m not sure how many categories StumblUpon contains,  (more than 24) but there’s no way to search through them other than to swipe back and forth.
  • Finding followers is a pain in the ass. In fact, I’ve given up and decided to let any growth happen organically. Other than searching your friends on Facebook, Twitter and Google+, you can’t type in an interest and find someone who shares it. You can look at a long list of photos with no descriptions and pick someone at random, hoping they share the same values, but I ain’t got time for that.
  • Stumble your own blog posts, which I do. You’ll also have to stumble other content, or the company is going to catch on, and nasty things will happen. (I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I assume they want you to spread the word on more than what can bring you monetary value).

What I really think of StumbleUpon

Overall, my opinion is meh. I use it to find articles to share on my social media, and when I have time to load new content, I share what I’ve found. It’s a social media tool, but not an important one in my book.

I do receive emails telling me my Likes are being StumbledUpon. It’s nice to see my books, via my blog pages, being Stumbled, but I don’t know how that’s translating into sales.

Do you use StumbleUpon? What’s been your experience?

Monday’s AtoZChallenge will be about the letter “T”.

#AtoZChallenge is a blogging challenge that takes place in the month of April.

#AtoZChallenge is a blogging challenge

If you’d like to continue reading my entries in the AtoZChallenge* and to receive my blog posts, please use the entry form to the right. Also sign up for my newsletter, and you’ll receive a FREE copy of my short story, Mr. Right, Mr. Wrong, Mr. Alien.

If you know of someone who would enjoy learning more about Stumbleupon, use the buttons on the left to share this post. Thank you.

*#AtoZChallenge is a blogging challenge that takes place in April (except on Sundays). Participants blog every day around a theme of their choosing, in alphabetical order. Throughout the month of April, I’ll share tips, links, and insights I’ve learned in my writing career

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7+ tips to revise your rough draft and take your book to the next level. www.cherylsterlingbooks.com

For today’s AtoZChallenge, the letter “R” will show you how to revise your rough draft.

(This post is a revised {a pun!} copy of an earlier blog . I am recycling it for today’s AtoZChallenge. The information is as relevant. 7+ tips to revise your rough draft and take your book to the next level. www.cherylsterlingbooks.comI will show you 7+ tips to revise your rough draft and take your book to the next level).

I’ve just finished the final, final, final edits for Snow White and the Eighth Dwarf. Proofreading it was a long, laborious process, as I wrote 56K of the story last July in a rough NaNo like session. The first draft was not pretty. {Note:This book has been published and is available on Amazon as an ebook and paperback, and Smashwords.}

Let’s face the ugly truth. You’ve spent months, maybe years, writing a book and you have a big, sloppy mess. How do you revise your rough draft, clean it, and make it look good?

Look for inconsistencies.

Did your main character change names, eye color, or gender? Did you mention magic in the first chapter, but no one casts any spells? Does your forest setting change to a desert for no reason? Check your timeline to verify your protag and antag are on the same day. Because of the time involved in writing a book, many details can get lost. Look for inconsistencies and fix them.

Fill in the holes.

When proofreading, fill in the holes of your story. My first draft looks like a tic-tac-toe game.

My first draft looks like a tic-tac-toe game.

I write very fast because I don’t want the bright, shiny light of inspiration to dim. Get the words down, get them down fast is my motto. Fill in the holes later. My first draft is full of XXX’s, my all-purpose placeholder for research I need to do, nameless characters (example from my current WIP: “Name1, Name2, Name3, Name4 and Name5, thank you for coming here today.”), or descriptions that need filling in (example: more here of her physical trauma xxxx.) My first draft is a tic-tac-toe game. Revising is the time to do the research, decide on the names, and fill in the holes. Continue reading “R” is for Revise your Rough Draft—#AtoZChallenge

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Quick writing is a discipline you can learn.

 For today’s AtoZChallenge, the letter “Q” is for Quick Writing

I’m re-running a blog I wrote last July, which dealt with Quick Writing. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

How to write a book faster, 5 quick steps

Quick writing is a discipline you can learn.If you want to know how to write a book faster, you’re in good company. All writers want to write faster. All of them. Even the ones who seem to release a book every other month <cough> Nora Roberts <cough>.

What are some tricks to increase word count (besides the cliché “write every day”)?

I’ve written a lot lately (approx. 15K in 10 days), and I’m not on drugs, caffeine or other stimulants. Here are some of the little tweaks I’ve implemented to change my attitude from “I’ll do it tomorrow” to “I can’t wait to write”.

What I’ve done to increase my quick writing:

Attitude

Attitude is everything when it comes to quick writing. There’s nothing sweeter than being in “the zone” when writing.

Knowing what I’m going to write.

I’m not a pantser. Generally, I know what I’m writing, but I’ve set aside a few minutes before each writing session to jot down what will happen; how it does/does not affect the character’s growth; how it moves the plot forward. I don’t spend a lot of time on this step; it’s a sign on the side of the road, not a detailed map.

Sticking to the larger outline.

I outline on index cards (both real and as Scrivener notes), and I try to stay true to the plan. Knowing where your story is going between page one and “the end” is critical in writing efficiently. Pantsing and feeling out the story may be your preferred method, but to be a success, you have to write and publish often.

Take a break.

Your mileage may differ, but I find a short break after an hour of writing is the best mix.

Remember, it’s a 1st draft.

It’s okay to cheat. I call the first draft the vomit draft. Throw up on the page and clean it up later.

Use xxx as a placeholder for something that needs research later. Every trip to the internet delays my writing. It’s easier to write “xxxtown#1” than to stop and look up the perfect name.

Also, (insert whatever here). As in (insert sword fight/sex scene here) or (figure out how to get them from point A to B later). I don’t use this tool often, but it’s nice to have it available.

Write with my eyes closed.

Nothing stops momentum more than words underlined in red.

No editing.

Waaaaay harder than it sounds, but I try not to go back and start playing wordsmith.

Know when to write.

My optimum time is 2-4 p.m. and anytime after 6 p.m. If you’re so inclined,  go all spreadsheet guru and track when your most efficient times to write are, but you probably already know.

On that note, do keep a spreadsheet of your scene and daily word counts. It’s nice to know my high in the last ten days was 2168. It gives me a target.

Set a minimum daily word count.

At the moment, mine is 1000. It’s an easy target, I feel great once I pass it, and it gives me momentum to continue.

Have an accountability buddy.

One of the last things I do before I shut down my computer at night is to email my accountability buddy with my daily word count. It might make her jealous, it might prompt her to get her butt in the chair, but it gives me an incentive to continue writing. I don’t want to disappoint her, and I don’t want to disappoint myself.

Employ quick writing because there are other books waiting to be written.

Happy (and fast) writing!

{2017 Cheryl returning from my 2016 blog—insert Twilight Zone music here}

These tips will show you how to implement quick writing into your life. I’m living proof it works. When I wrote the above blog, I was working on Snow White and the Eighth Dwarf. I wrote 57K words in the month of July, 2016, and published it in March, 2017. If I, who used to write a novel a year, can write one in a month, so can you!

Tomorrow’s #AtoZChallenge centers on the letter “R”.

#AtoZChallenge is a blogging challenge that takes place in the month of April.

#AtoZChallenge is a blogging challenge that takes place in the month of April.

If you’d like to continue reading my entries in the AtoZChallenge* and to receive my blog posts, please use the entry form to the right. Also sign up for my newsletter, and you’ll receive a FREE copy of my short story, Mr. Right, Mr. Wrong, Mr. Alien.

Finally, if you know of someone who would enjoy learning more about quick writing, use the buttons on the left to share this post.

*#AtoZChallenge is a blogging challenge that takes place in April (except on Sundays). Participants blog every day around a theme of their choosing, in alphabetical order. Throughout the month of April, I’ll share tips, links, and insights I’ve learned in my writing career.

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