Hangouts on Google+

For today’s Thursday Themes, I thought I would take a moment to briefly discuss Google+ Hangouts. I say briefly because I am just learning about them myself…

One of the daily challenges for the Author Platform Challenge by Robert Lee Brewer that I’m running from my blog this month is to create a Google+ account for yourself. You must complete it fully — add your picture, bio, website, etc. — in order to ensure that this place to find you on the web is complete. After I completed the task of creating my account and updating my profile, I began to peruse what Google+ had to offer and think about how I could incorporate this social network into my writing life.

Then I stumbled upon Hangouts and I started digging deeper. Hangouts are essentially a private video chat room that you can invite your Google+ friends to and discuss whatever. You are able to connect up to 9 people via video and I believe others can participate in the chat by typing (those who don’t want to be on video, and those folks who join after 9 video connections have already been made). Hangouts also gives you the ability to allow “Hangouts On Air” which streams your video broadcast live on both your Google+ profile page and your YouTube channel. It’s a really neat feature of the site and I believe it can help a writer tremendously with building her platform and marketing herself.

Some of the uses for Hangouts, especially Hangouts On Air, that I have come up with include:

  1. Holding a virtual book reading of sections of your book.
  2. Holding a virtual discussion about your book or some aspect of your book.
  3. Holding webinars on industry topics such as self publishing and memoir writing.

The list goes on and on. I intend to use Hangouts for the Inspired & Independent Book Club so that we can meet at least monthly to summarize the book we’ve been reading together. Book clubs are so much more fun when you can get together in person and discuss the work. This will be a really great experience to add to the Book Club.

If you’d like to connect with me on Google+ or any of the social networks out there, I can be found:

Time to share…
Do you have a Google+ account? If so, do you use Hangouts/Hangouts On Air? How do you/would you use the Hangouts feature in your writing life?

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Your Writing Life and the iPad

DISCLAIMER: I am a technology junkie. I have worked in the information technology field for over 20 years. As such, gadgets get my adrenaline up. I am forewarning all who read this blog post that I may get a little geeky on you…

I purchased my iPad 2 on the Monday before the New iPad was released (Friday of the same week). The retina display et al that the New iPad boasts was not enough of a draw for me to spend the extra $100+ dollars, nor was I waiting in mad mob lines trying to get my hands on one of the New iPads on release day. I have since put my iPad 2 next to a New iPad and looked at the display. There is a clear difference between the displays; however, still not enough for me to have spent that extra money. If you are into doing lots with photos, streaming videos, and creating/editing both then yes, the New iPad would be marvelous. But I’m a writer…

Since I have purchased my iPad, I have been on a hunt for a productivity app that would allow me to type my manuscripts onto my iPad, save them, and access them later from other devices (iPhone, laptop/desktop PC, android tablet, etc.). I happened upon Storyist in one of my searches, purchased the program and use it religiously on my iPad. However, with me writing multiple manuscripts at the same time (the muse won’t let me focus on just one…) it was getting cumbersome to use the iPad, save to Dropbox, download from Dropbox on my PC, convert the file to a useable PC format (for Word), and then be able to start writing. I have enough procrastination techniques already…don’t need another one!

This morning, I was determined to find a tool that I could use on my iPad that I carry everywhere and enable me to write at the drop of a dime without all the uploading/downloading/converting hassle. So I did a Google search. Lo and behold I found OnLive Desktop! Can I tell you how excited I was to find this?! This is a FREE app for the iPad that allows you to access a Microsoft Office desktop which has Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and Adobe Reader X at your disposal. Your account also comes with 2 GB of storage in the cloud. They have paid options as well; however, my needs were met with access to Microsoft Word and 2 gigs of storage space!

Now, I am not putting this out there as a “complaint” against Storyist. I love that app as well. However, being a PC-shop at home and the only Apple devices I own are my iPhone and iPad, it was just too cumbersome to use Storyist. If you have a MAC at home, you can get Storyist for the MAC as well and that would resolve all the issues that I was facing going between an Apple device and Windows.

I haven’t even had the opportunity to do anything more on my iPad then launch the app once I installed it and launch Word. I was in heaven! Haven’t typed one word yet… Therefore, the jury is still out regarding the stability of the app and whether it crashes and/or you lose data. I will definitely update my review on this find once I am able to get working with it. In the meantime, however, if you are like me and were struggling with compatibility issues between mobile working and working from home, then this might be the app for you.

Check it out and let me know your thoughts. I would love to hear about this service or any other apps or services others may have found that you are using in your writing life which are working for you.

Keep writing!

Jackie Collins: Why She Chose to Self Publish

I read a great article recently about author Jackie Collins recently making the decision to self publish. She has a couple of reasons, but the one reason that struck me most:

“But times are changing, and technology is changing, and I wanted to experiment with this growing trend of self publishing.”

‘Nuff said… Ms. Collins hits the nail on the head. The trend is moving toward self publishing for many many many authors, both those already published and enjoying successful writing careers and those of us aspiring to get there.

Whether you decide to pursue traditional publishing or if you go down the self publishing path, I believe all authors should have at least one experience in self publishing. If you take the time to publish a work yourself, then you will have the clearest understanding of the publishing industry. You will know what it takes to get a book from finished manuscript in Microsoft Word, to a printed and bound work that is saleable to the public, as well as what it takes to get that now printed book sold and up on the ratings list.

Why would you want or need this information? Because information is power. Knowing the ropes and how to navigate them puts you in a very powerful position. You may get picked up by a traditional publisher. As a newbie, you wouldn’t know all the ins and outs and what you should negotiate for in your contract. But if you have experienced the process, then you have more information to use when negotiating that part of the contract. You have also had to push a book 100% by yourself — you are the publisher. What you learn while marketing your book and getting the sales numbers up is also invaluable information. Information that can then be used during contract negotiations with a traditional publisher…

So, get published. Self published. And learn the industry to its fullest extent. Place yourself in a position of power. The big boys of traditional publishing have done it for years. Now you can learn what they already know and use it to your advantage. Just like they have done. You should always be willing to learn something new in the industry and have it in your arsenal. It can only further your career. “Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave…”

If you would like to read the full article on Jackie Collins and her thoughts on self publishing, visit the Association of Independent Authors site. Not only for the article, but for the wealth of information that the site offers. The specific article can be found here.

Time to share…
What are your thoughts on what Ms. Collins had to say about her choice to self publish? Do you believe this is valuable information to have — even if your choice is to traditionally publish?

Writing Prompt: Sunday Morning Church Service

Pull out your journals or keyboards and write about Sunday morning church service. Describe the scene in detail. Transport your reader into the location. Show and tell when necessary as Don Fry would encourage. Sometimes it’s necessary…

Share your writings!  If you feel so inclined…