Category Archives: technology

Penn State Lehigh Valley Writing Best Practices Conference Resources

Penn State Lehigh Valley Writing Best Practices Conference Resources


Here are some of the resources I mentioned today at the Penn State Lehigh Valley Best Practices Conference in my session about being a new writer in the digital age.  Please post any other writing resources you’d recommend in the comments.  Please keep in touch and celebrate your successes!


Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with my writing, find more resources, and learn about new writers.

If you are interested in guest blogging, please contact me.

Happy writing!

On Living The Writing Life:

30 Indispensable Writing Tips From 30 Famous Authors

National Writing Project

Penn State Lehigh Valley Writing Project

Write Nights

Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group

Bethlehem Writers Group


Building Your Digital Author Platform:


Suzie Bichovsky’s Dear Universe


My take on Medium



Twitter For Teachers Part 1 (or for anyone who wants to know what “hashtag” means)

Twitter For Teachers Part 2 (or for anyone who wants to know more about Twitter)




Give It A Whirl: Using Medium To Build Your Author Platform

Give It A Whirl: Using Medium To Build Your Author Platform

Screen shot 2014-01-25 at 2.55.18 PMAfter shaking my fists at Mother Nature when I found out the  Penn State Lehigh Valley Writing Project’s annual Best Practices Conference had been postponed due to weather issues,  I thought I’d share a resource with you.  If you were planning on attending my session about publishing in the digital age, we would have talked about creating an “author platform.”  A author platform is essentially what you create to present yourself to the world, usually online.  It’s about your content and how you connect to others. Read this article for one writer’s perspective on the topic.

One of the possibilities I would have shared with you this morning is Medium. It’s a newfangled blogging platform started by Blogger founder and Twitter co-founder, Evan Williams, and two former Twitter employees.  Medium describes itself as “a new place on the Internet where people share ideas and stories that are longer than 140 characters and not just for friends. It’s designed for little stories that make your day better and manifestos that change the world. It’s used by everyone from professional journalists to amateur cooks. It’s simple, beautiful, collaborative, and it helps you find the right audience for whatever you have to say.” Medium says its benefits include simple composing and formatting, opportunity for collaboration, and the opportunity to be part of a larger, interactive community.

This article on Slate convinced me to take a look at Medium.  I found out Medium’s format is super-easy on the eyes, the content is fresh, and each post notes how long it might  take you to read it.  You can choose “collections” that interest you.  A few of the collections I follow are  Life HacksTeaching and Learning and This Happened To Me. There is something for everyone here.

If you are someone who plans on publishing your writing, Medium can be cool place to start.   Read posts, recommend the pieces you like, connect with some writers.  When you have something to say,  post something.  See what happens.  (And shazaam – you have your name in the digital writing world – bonus.)

I’m using Medium was a way to write the nonfiction I’ve wanted to write and to easily connect with other writers. I’ve decided 2014 is my Year of Writing Dangerously and my first post was something I’ve had written for years but never shared. Finding out about Medium gave me the impetus to put it into the world.

Would people read my precious piece?  Well, the stats are a really cool component of Medium.  As of today, I know:

Medium Stats Example

I try not to dwell on the people who viewed but didn’t read.  It’s easy to obsess over who isn’t reading your writing.  In the end, I decided two things: I hope the people who read this piece felt a little comfort and that I’d learn more about Medium to see how I can reach a more readers and connect with more writers.  Believe me – it’s ALL a learning curve with creating your author platform, so try, try again.  My next piece is called The Digital Age Is Not For Snotty McSnottersons.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

So the pros about Medium:

  • It’s democratic – no editors, no gatekeepers.  (Unless you want to post in a collection, then you need collection editors’ approval).
  • No commitment – you can just read until you’re ready to post.
  • Posts include the time it might take you to read it. Could be appealing to readers.
  • You can search for pieces by areas of interest.
  • You can recommend posts and thereby connect with other writers.
  • It’s easy to set up. You just need a Twitter account.
  • It’s easy to post.  You can save drafts, share drafts with others to seek feedback before you post and you can add an image.
  • You can connect with many other writers about many different topics.
  • Stats are really simple and easy to understand.
  • You can find a niche based on data from your stats.
  • It’s timely – you can write about last night’s episode of American Horror Story: Coven or the latest news.
  • Medium is having  nifty little contest based on the idea of six word memoir, so here’s an easy opportunity to give it a whirl.

Cons about Medium:

  • You have write so your voice is heard above other voices and you have to research how to do this. Let me know when you figure it out.
  • It’s democratic, so the quality of the other contributors isn’t assured.
  • If you want to post, you need a Twitter account.

CAVEAT TO TEACHERS: there has been much ado about teachers and social media.  I personally think a lot of it comes from luddites who are afraid of change.  Listen, the revolution still might not be be televised (immediately) , but it will be and has been Tweeted.   We might as well get on board. Just remember: don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your principal or superintendent to read.  If you want to be a writer in 2014, you have to create  an author platform, so you might as well start now and start small.

Parting offer: if you are interested in posting on Medium and would like someone to give you feedback before you post, I’ll do that for the first five people who email me.  The only stipulation is that you’ll do the same for me sometime.

Please post comments and questions below, ESPECIALLY if you post something on Medium. Come on, take a chance! We’ll add a few clicks to your stats and make you feel mighty special. And don’t forget to connect with me on Twitter and Facebook so we can support each other as we write.

See you April 5th!!

See you April 5th!!

Twitter For Teachers: Part 2


Screen shot 2013-05-28 at 6.26.30 PMSince summer  vacay is just a few weeks away, here’s a final post about how to use Twitter for professional development.

Twitter chats are a fun way to engage with teachers and find out what’s going on in other schools.  For  example, #edchat happens on Tuesdays at noon and 5pm EST. Teachers from all over the United States and world participate in this discussion about a topic.  I would suggest just tuning into an edchat first to see how it works.  All you have to do is type in #edchat and you’ll be able to follow any tweet with that hashtag.  Tweeters comment on a specific, pre-determined topic, like maybe technology or testing.  Retweet or favorite the tweets you like.  You’ll be giving compliments to the tweeters and you just might find yourself some new followers.  Once you feel comfy with how edchat flows, join the conversation. Here are tips for a successful edchat. There are plenty of other chats as well, so check out this fascinatingcalendar.

Don’t forget to make lists.  This is a simple way to organize tweets.  Sometimes I just want to see tweets from teachers I follow; other times, I just want to read tweet from writers I follow.   Here are some tips from Twitter on setting up a list and here’s a video.

So welcome to the Twitterverse!  Have fun and get connected! Please share any resources you find below.  There’s always something new to learn when it comes to social media.

Read An E-Book Without An E-Reader



A lot of people tell me they want to read my book but have to wait for the print version because they don’t have an e-reader.  Luckily for readers everywhere, you don’t have to have an e-reader to read an e-book.  There’s a simple solution: download the Nook or Kindle app for your smartphone, tablet or computer. The apps are free and easy-to-use.  You can modify the text size, font, and background color just as you would on an e-reader.

These apps will open up a new world for you as a reader. Not only can you now enjoy full-length books on your device, many authors are publishing electronic novellas and short stories, as well.  For example, Jonathan Maberry offers insight into his Joe Ledger series through shorter, and, therefore, lower-priced stories.   Steve Berry  writes novellas, as well.  And don’t forget the amazing Janet Evanovich. It’s a cool way to stay connected to a series between books or to enjoy a shorter, stand-alone story. In fact, I’m planning an e-novella about Cassidy Valeo’s backstory. Stay tuned!