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#FlashFiction Contest: Haunted Love

This week’s theme is “Haunted Love,” and stories are due on Thursday, October 13, 2016 by 11:59pm CST with a short bio (3-4 sentences) and links to your social media platform and any books you have on the market. Email them to lydia.evelyn.thomas@gmail.com.  Remember, these should be roughly 300-500 words, and the winner is shared across my social platform. Go forth and write!

 

Golden Fantasy by Amogha Sharma

Maria’s deep blue orbs squinted to read the note that they had discovered along with the mysterious golden box. The box was a regal shade of golden with a silver bow on top, which made it look much more bizarre than it already looked.

 

“Roll the dice,
Close your eyes;
Chant her name,
Doreah enters your game.
Talk and ask,
Wish and giggle
But halt here.
For she knows no bounds.
Her spirit haunts, 
As she mingles
Going round and round,”
Maria read the note out loud for all of them to hear.
Liz rolled her sea green eyes and huffed; she had claimed not to be afraid of such games.
“Old Bamir knows this box has no haunted game, girls,” she said, “he must’ve had a good laugh after you had bought this queer box for such a high price.”
Maria paid no heed to her, she secretly felt as though Liz shouldn’t say this for she hadn’t spent her Halloween allowance on buying this game. It was Maria and Amy who had paid for it and if someone was to oppose, it had to be either of them.
“There’s no harm in trying it, Liz. We have always wanted to do something fun for Halloween. This sounds fun,” Thirteen year old Amy said with a smile plastered on her face.
What fun?” Liz thought but decided not to kill the mood and agreed on playing the game.
Maria spread the small mat out, laid it with their ‘trick or treat’ treats and placed the dice on top, zeal evident in her eyes. She looked around to see if the other two girls wanted to go first. Seeing that they weren’t very sure, she decided to go first, fearlessly. She rolled the dice and chanted the spell, “Doreah, tonight we await your arrival. Say no not to me, there is nothing for you to fear, come and talk to us. Here lies your abode, dear Doreah.”
All the three young ladies waited patiently for something to happen, even though Liz claimed that nothing could happen, she still waited eagerly for some magic to flow through their veins at that moment.
After half an hour of waiting, Liz decided to call it a night. And of course, she didn’t do so right away, she made sure to scold Maria and Amy for wasting their allowance on something as good as the old dustbin down the lane. Maria was disappointed too but she didn’t let her disappointment show, Halloween wasn’t celebrated everyday and she loved Halloween. However, Amy could sense the tension in a matter of seconds.
“Maria, it is alright. We still have the candies. Let’s eat them and watch a movie while she sleeps,” Amy said, making Maria smile.
Before the girls knew it, they had dozed off wearing their Halloween costumes with the television still switched on. Candy wrappers were clumsily thrown about the house and the kitchen was a mess, they were surely up for big trouble when their parents would find the house in such a bad shape, the next morning.
The following morning, Liz woke up to the sun rays falling on her face and the cool breeze making her shiver. She jumped up with a startle when she realised that they still needed to clean the house from last night. She hurried to find the girls in their bedroom but found them fast asleep on the porch instead.
“Wake up, right now!” Liz commanded, waking the two girls up and also making Amy land with a thud on the floor.
“Mother and father will be here any moment, we must clean up this place before they reach!” Liz said as she panicked.
The events from last night finally started to sink in their heads and the three girls hurried to the kitchen to clean it, but little did they know that a surprise awaited them there. To their utter disbelief, the three girls found the kitchen spotlessly clean. They checked the cupboards and found the utensils in there, the sink had been cleaned and the candy wrappers discarded.
“Did you two…?” All the three asked each other, only to realise later that it wasn’t any of them. It couldn’t have been anyone except them either because the doors had been locked for their safety at night.
Suddenly, Maria walked back to the parlour of their house and found the little box which they had left uncovered. It was wrapped properly, now  and the silver bow was still attached to it. Beside the little box, lay a note, untouched and unread.
Amy picked it up and  it read:
“Call Doreah, and she comes.
Every 31st has witnessed, 
Her hands sweeping the floors 
Scrubbing the dishes.
And she leaves,
But not alone she goes
She takes with her your rose.”
The girls stared at each other with blank looks on their faces for some time. Liz finally spoke up, “Have any of you lost a rose?”
“We haven’t bought roses in a while,” they replied, unanimously.
“Roses. Does that count Amy’s rose brooch too?” Maria wondered.
“I don’t have my precious rose brooch on!” Amy screamed as she placed her hand on her chest trying to find the pin.
By then, all of their faces had darkened and they were scared out of their wits. Old Bamir hadn’t lied, after all. Chills ran down their spines and they stared at the box which somehow smiled back at them, or so it seemed.
Halloween is round the corner, friends. Have you, by any chance, seen such a box somewhere in your house waiting to be opened?
***
The winner of last week’s “Haunted Childhood Games” is Amogha Sharma. She is fourteen years old and from India. You can follow her on Wattpad and Twitter.

#FlashFiction Contest: Haunted Childhood Games

Writers, I have an exciting opportunity for you to flex that writing muscle! I’ve decided to host a weekly writing contest in an effort to connect with more writers. Each week’s winners will be featured here on the blog and across my social media streams along with their stories and links to their social media and any books they have on the market. (Yay for free publicity!)

Here’s how it goes:

  • You submit a 300-500 word story on the week’s theme to lydia.evelyn.thomas@gmail.com by 11:59pm CST on Thursday with a short bio (3-4 sentences) and links to your social media platform and any books you have on the market.
  • I will select and notify the winner of the week by 5pm CST on Friday, and the winner will be published the following Monday morning.

Super easy, right?

This week’s theme is “Haunted Childhood Games,” and stories are due on Thursday, October 6, 2016 by 11:59pm CST. Email them to lydia.evelyn.thomas@gmail.com. Now, go forth and write!

I am the road less traveled…

…but I am the real deal!

I love this poem by Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Why choose me over thousands of other brand consultants? As an author myself, I’m right there in the trenches with you. I know how hard it is to balance writing and life even before you add the pressures of trying to figure out who you are in this saturated marketplace and then being that person. I know that just because a strategy works for every other author on the planet (and believe me, I’ve encountered no such strategy) does not mean it will work for you, because formulas are rigid, but as an individual, you are fluid. As a former book marketing manager for Booktrope publishing, I have experience and connections, and I know that when you’re making your first foray into social media marketing, you benefit from experience and connections. I know that unless you land a great publisher the costs for getting your book into shape and out on the market are ginormous, so … I’m going to let you name your price. (I have suggestions, of course, but ultimately, it’s up to you.)

 

I am here to get to know you and your book – with me, you will learn your audience and how to connect with it. I am here to provide you with a niche market analysis – with me, you will learn about other authors who write similar content, and what they’re doing to be successful. I am here to analyze and make your current social media platform more robust* – with me, you will learn strategies specific to your message and your book’s message to connect with and engage an online audience. I would also love to help you develop a media kit (complete with author bio, book synopsis, and pitch to solicit reviewers), strategies to find reviewers, build confidence in you, and connect with other industry professionals (editors, proofreaders, formatters, and designers).

I am the road less traveled. I will apply conventional marketing wisdom where appropriate, but I’m mostly interested in getting to know you and developing a plan that works for you, even if it’s a little offbeat. And I assure you, working with me will make all the difference.

Contact me today: lydia.evelyn.thomas@gmail.com.

*If you are not an author, but would like me to look at your business’ social media presence and breathe some life into it, I’d love to help you, too! I also write bios, resumes, and cover letters.

How does your target audience use the internet?

Authors, if you want to effectively position yourself and your writing on social media, you have to know how your target audience uses social media, and you have to operate on social media within that.

For example, last week I shared that my target audience as an author is female educators, and it is my goal to be a resource for them. How did I get there? I did some research on teachers and discovered that 92% use the internet to access content, resources, and materials and nearly 70% use it for idea-sharing with other teachers. Educators are always looking out for things that will help them reach their students. So whether it’s developing a free Bible curriculum or using my writing to implement a campaign that raises support for good causes (sometimes educational) and provides entertainment for educators or just constantly thinking in terms of examples and illustrations, I am committed to being someone educators look to when they need something.

So. I’ll ask again: how is your target audience using social media? Your strategy for effectively positioning yourself and your book online and getting it into the hands or digital readers of the people most likely to enjoy on it hinges on the answer. Of course, none of this matters until you know who your target audience is.

I can help you with that. I want to help you with that. Maybe you’re wary of reaching out because I sound too good to be true, but I am the real deal. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to work with me. Email me at lydia.evelyn.thomas@gmail.com so we can get you booked.

If you don’t know yourself, you won’t know how to market yourself!

Knowing who you are is an integral part of knowing how to position yourself and your work in today’s market. Just because a strategy has worked for other people does not necessarily mean it will work for YOU.

If you’re feeling a little bit lost, here are a few of my favorite tools to help you get to know yourself a little better.

– Myers-Briggs Type Indicator: https://www.16personalities.com/free-personality-test
– Love Languages Test: http://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/
– VIA Survey of Character Strengths: https://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/testcenter

So here’s your task for today: take (at least) one of them, and share your results with me in the comments.

Who is your target audience?

Authors, do you know who your target audience is? If not, do you know the importance of finding your target audience in shaping robust and sustainable marketing strategy?

You see, your target audience is the group of people most likely to pick up and enjoy your work. Contrary to the fantasy you’ve built up in your imagination about how this author thing is going to go for you, it’s not every reader ever. (Hey, I get it – I have been there.) If you don’t know the people who are most likely to pick up and enjoy your work, you’re going to be unfocused and eventually overextended in your book marketing efforts online and off.

I know. I’ve been there, too.

Popular book marketing advice says that an author should choose somewhere between three and five topics about which they care and upon which to build their online platforms and attract readers. In short, all conversation started and engaged in through an author’s platform should revolve around those three to five topics. And this advice works for many authors.

But.

It didn’t work for me. I tried to work within three categories for my author platform: reading, writing, and matters of faith. As broad as those categories were, I have a chronic fascination with absolutely everything and I often found I wanted to talk about things that didn’t fit into them, but I felt like I couldn’t. I felt like I would be violating my brand, betraying the trust of the people who had followed me on the basis of those three topics.

I had an allegorical fantasy and a Bible curriculum for elementary students on the market, I was wrapping up my chick lit novel, A Year with the Baptists, and I was re-working (for the umpteenth time) my literary novel, Rachael’s Unfolding. I was frustrated because all of my work was in different genres (and popular marketing advice is to stick with one genre for your brand), and I couldn’t figure out if it was one group or four different groups I was trying to reach.

I simultaneously needed less topical specificity and more specificity regarding my target audience, so I sat down earlier this year and did some exercises.

It took all of an afternoon to realize that my target audience as an author – the group people most likely to pick up and enjoy my writing – is female elementary educators. They spend most of their time looking for ways to teach students in the individual ways they learn, looking for and developing creative lesson plans. They love learning new things, and new ways of doing things. Often, they spend their own money and exhaust their own resources to make sure their students have everything they need to succeed. They care. And when they have time to read or watch Netflix, they’re looking for positive, inspiring stories that meet them and fill them after they’ve poured so much into others. That’s when it hit me like a ton of bricks: as an author, I need to be a resource, specifically for female elementary educators. Whether it’s a cool science news story or a new twist on an old fairy tale, I can share it, because the people I am trying to reach will be just as fascinated as I am. Who knew?

Of course, as a consultant, I am trying to reach you – the author who doesn’t know how to determine who his or her target audience, who doesn’t even know where to begin with this whole social media branding and marketing thing. And I’m not trying to reach you with a formula, because you’re someone who does things outside of the mold; I’m trying to partner with you to develop a plan that works with how you already operate. It can be done.

All you need to do is shoot me an email at lydia.evelyn.thomas@gmail.com. Introduce yourself (let’s say … name, favorite color, and favorite thing about yourself) and tell me a bit about your writing. I will set you up with some exercises, and together we’ll hash out who your target audience is. Okay? Okay.