Life Hacks For Writers

Elizabeth Black writes in a wide variety of genres including erotica, erotic romance, horror, and dark fiction. She lives on the Massachusetts coast with her husband, son, and her three cats. Visit her web site, her Facebookpage, and her Amazon Author Page.

Her new m/m erotic medical thriller Roughing It is out! This book is a sexy cross between The X Files and The Andromeda Strain. Buy it at Amazon!

You’ve seen those web articles about life hacks. Stuff like pouring iced tea into ice cube trays so your tea doesn’t dilute. Punching holes in the lid of an orange juice container so that it may function as a water pitcher for plants. When freezing raw meat, flatten it out in the plastic baggie as much as possible to cut down on thawing time. You get my drift. Have you ever wondered what kinds of life hacks for writers exist? Look no further! Here are a few I dreamed up.

1. Turn your phone off. Get off the Internet. That means no Facebook or Twitter. The point is, cut off contact with the outside world so you aren’t distracted. As the meme says, you should be writing.

2. Many writers like to drink while they write, whether it’s wine, cocktails, coffee or tea. Or something else. Coffee is elixir of the gods though, according to nearly every writer I’ve ever spoken to. Keeping the brew hot is a major concern. I use a travel mug that keeps my drinks cool or hot. If you don’t want to go that route, but you don’t want your coffee getting cold on you, invest in a Mr. Coffee Mug Warmer. I picked up this handy little hint at Positive Writer.

3. Make up your mixed drinks ahead of time. I like Negronis, so my husband and I bought bottles of Campari, gin, and sweet vermouth. We mixed equal parts of each and poured them into a container we keep in the fridge. This way, by making your cocktails ahead of time, you don’t waste writing time measuring, mixing, shaking and stirring and getting out of your groove. You pour your drink and BAM! Back to writing.

5. Invest in a water boiler. I use one by Zojirushi. You won’t have to wait for your water to boil when you’re making coffee or tea. It’s in the boiler, ready for you. You can even use the boiler to make ramen. My husband and I take ours with us when we travel for fun or for conventions and retreats. We can have hot drinks 24/7 in our room without having to wander down to the hotel lobby, thanks to the boiler.

6. Collect music compilations that match the mood of what you are writing. When I write those smoldering sex scenes, I like to listen to Enigma and Lords of Acid. Both are incredibly hot. When I write horror and dark fiction, I listen to the Internet radio station Drone Zone. It’s full of dark ambient and minimalistic electronic music.

7. If you need to get out of the house because you have a scorching case of cabin fever, go to a location that allows you to stay for a bit with your laptop but does not have wifi. That way, you won’t be tempted to spend too much time answering Buzzfeed quizzes when you should be writing. Make sure you bring cash with you so you don’t overspend your budget by using your debit card too much. Those coffee shops can be expensive. I also read about the cash idea at Positive Writer.

8. Get exercise balls for your feet so you don’t cramp or tire while seated for long periods of time. Another possibility is to get a standing desk. I read about them at Write On Sisters.

These are only a few suggestions for things to do to make your writing life easier and more enjoyable. Do you have any writing hacks? Feel free to tell me about them in comments.

Author Behavior And Its Effect On Readers

Elizabeth Black writes erotica, erotic romance, dark fiction, and horror. She lives on the Massachusetts coast with her husband, son, and four cats.


Have you ever quit
reading an author because of the way that author acted on social media?

This question was
posed on Facebook by several authors. I saw it on author Rachel Thompson’s
timeline, and I wanted to know if my readers and other authors had ever done
it. I had read about allegations of child sexual abuse against Marion Zimmer
Bradley and I was already familiar with charges of homophobia against Orson
Scott Card. As I saw on Facebook and elsewhere, the news turned off many
readers as well as writers. After all, writers are readers, too.

I asked the same
question on m Facebook timeline and I received some fascinating answers.

In many cases,
yes, an author’s behavior may affect a person’s desire to get to know their
works. Diana Perrine noted that it’s “sometimes it is hard
to separate the Art from the Artist. Actors, Musicians, Authors, Painters and
Poets. If I like the art, but if I find the artist to be particularly loathsome,
I may not patronize him/her.” Tess MacKall found certain criminal acts a
deal-breaker. “If an author has committed a crime—and I’m not talking
about income tax evasion or getting caught with a prostitute—but a real crime
such as sexual abuse, murder, rape, etc., I’m never going to read anything by
that author again.” She said. “And I don’t care how talented the
author is. I will not put money in the pockets of a person like that.” Darren
Madigan brought up the career damage misbehavior can cause for an author or
celebrity: “If you’re really offended by some kind of behavior, then it
will doubtless make you not want to have anything to do with the person associated
with the behavior….  which is why
celebrities lose endorsement deals when they get caught misbehaving. ” He
said. “It’s normal and natural for people to feel alienated from
everything they associate with a person when that person behaves in a way that
offends them.”

Some authors named specific
writers. Karen Pokras Toz pointed out a fellow author had forwarded to her an
interview by Nicholas Sparks where he puts down women authors. She said
“Buh-bye.” I’ve never read Sparks either, and now I definitely won’t
touch his books since I feel insulted. Jeanne Evans has never read, and will
never read, anything by L. Ron Hubbard.

Not everyone agrees with these
assessments, however, and these disagreements make some authors controversial. Still,
It is helpful to separate the artist from his or her work. Devon Marshall said,
“For me it’s a case of don’t confuse the house with the inhabitant. What
an author (or an actor, director, or any creative person) does is create a
fiction, whether within a novel or a role or a painting, or whatever. What they
do with their creative fiction is not always who they are in reality. Liking a
person’s work doesn’t obligate me to like that person in reality. And vice
versa, I can like a person but dislike their work! It should also be borne in
mind that what we read about people on social media (be they celebrities or not)
may not always be either the whole story or even the truth.”

Raye Roeske has had personal experience with
poorly-acting or speaking authors. She said, “It’s mostly been authors/artists/whatever who have
personally been dickish to me or one of my loved ones.” More personal
experience from a reader: “I had an author follow me on twitter,
then not long after they chatted/commented on tweets, even gave me a snippet of
their book and once I said I’d bought the book they un followed me (keeping up
their follower vs followed numbers) it irritated me so unfollowed them.”
Xenia Smith said. “They then commented on the fact I’d unfollowed them.
Not really the way to keep new readers.

This distaste isn’t isolated to authors. Dave Gammon
said he was “very turned off a specific director that shall remain
anonymous. This individual seems to relish in correcting other people who are
simply stating their opinions and impressions and retaliating with his own
opinions as abstract as they are as facts. I think its a sign of emotional
insecurity to have to railroad someone else’s opinion because it differs from
their own. I think this individual has definitely tarnished my enthusiasm of
seeing anymore of their films.”

James Gummer was enjoying one particular author’s
works, but was turned off later. “I bought all of his books and
listened regularly to his podcast,” he said. “He acts and talks like
he wants to interact with people. But he never responded to any of my emails or
tweets when I had questions I wanted to ask.” Authors really do need to
keep up with their readers. It may be hard, but it’s necessary. One key to
success is friendly interaction.

One of the worst examples of author behavior I’ve ever
seen was described by John Hancock, who pointed out a possible explanation for
some of this behavior. He said: “I think the thing is that SOME
authors are very solitary, lacking in social skills, so when they enter social
media, they either think they can control or retaliate against fans or readers
whose reviews they don’t appreciate, or they simply come off as obnoxious
” He described a rather horrific personal experience: “I once
wrote a negative review, in which I pointed out the misogynistic parts of the
book I found repulsive (threats of cutting off a woman’s breasts, and making
her eat them, for example). The author, and a group of his friends hounded me
and down voted all my reviews (even those for products unrelated to books) and
bragged about targeting me. Eventually I told him enough, I’d remove the review
if they’d stop harassing me. Simply not worth it. The sad thing is, everyone
once in a while, due to his robo social media campaign, I get requests to
follow him on Facebook or twitter. I would never read another book from this
person. I wouldn’t anyways, due to his repugnant attitudes towards women, but
also because he’s a bully to bad reviewers. God only knows how many bad reviews
he forced to retract, like mine.”

Some aren’t affected by an author’s actions or
statements. “I feel missing a good book or movie because of that
would just mean I can’t keep my thoughts separated and distinct in my
head,” John Paradiso said. The
opposite side would be readers who have picked up an author’s books because of
their pleasant social media personas. I doubt I would have read Trent Zelazny,
Douglas Clegg, KD Grace, or Tom Piccirilli if I hadn’t been exposed to them on
Facebook. I’d never heard of them before social media, and due to my exposure
to them and liking them as people, I discovered their works. John Ross Barnes
said much the same thing: “I have bought quite a few books by
authors I have discovered to be nice people on social media, and will continue
to do so.”

Some authors were exposed to new writers via different
formats. Christine Morgan said, “I’ve picked up books I might not have
otherwise just because the author seemed cool on a talk show or at a con or
something, yes. And I’ve avoided books for the reverse reason.” I recall
about several decades ago hearing a show on NPR in which Donald Westlake
discussed his new book “The Ax”. Westlake was such a delight and the
book sounded like such great fun that I soon after went to a bookstore and
bought it. I later devoured his Dortmunder books with great delight. Some
aren’t greatly influenced by what they read online or hear elsewhere. Jenifer Baldwin Stubbs may “try an
author because of social media…either I saw something I liked or someone I
like recommends, but I don’t let news, reviews or public behaviour really
influence my reading or watching.

Author radio interviews, book reviews,
and author profiles in newspapers and magazines are designed to sell books, but
they bring the author into your living room in a very comfortable and
easy-going way. You feel as if you’re right there with the author. If the book
sounds good, you’re more likely to buy it if you get a feel for the author.

And finally, Shar
Azade made the best point of all: “A lot of the authors I like are
dead. So if they suddenly got active on social media … I’d be a little
weirded out, yes.”


Here’s where to find me on the web:

Elizabeth Black – Facebook

Elizabeth Black – Twitter

Elizabeth Black – Amazon Author Page

Why Use Triberr?

By Lucy Felthouse

This post has been reblogged from Writer Marketing Services.


Hi everyone,

I’m writing this post due to popular demand. I’ve had several clients ask me about Triberr, what it is, why they should be using it and how much time it will take up. I’ll do my best to answer these questions, and probably more, without writing a blog post that will be the same length as my latest novel 😉

Here goes…

1. What is Triberr?

Triberr is a type of social sharing site where a user will join “tribes” that are relevant to the content they create on their blogs. So, for example, I’m in several writing, erotica, erotic romance and romance-type tribes. Once a user’s account is set up correctly, their blog’s RSS feed will automatically add each new post into the streams of people who are in the same tribes as them. The idea of this is that because people in tribes share similar interests, the posts they will see in their streams are things they will want to share with their own followers. Which brings me neatly onto point #2.

2. Why should you be using it?

Because it increases your reach. Massively. At the time of writing this post, I have 5,653 Twitter followers. So when I go into Triberr and approve other people’s relevant posts (this is key for me. I don’t want to alienate my followers by Tweeting stuff about children’s books or young adult), they will automatically be Tweeted onto my account. Not all at once, but at intervals set by me, which are half an hour.

Imagine this reversed. Because each of my blog posts are fed into Triberr, they’ll appear on my tribemates’ feeds and they’ll share them. So without Triberr, my Tweets would be seen by 5,653 people and probably then by others because my followers have Retweeted me. But with Triberr, my blog posts are automatically fed to the Twitter feed of every tribemate that approved my post – and because I’m in tribes that are relevant to my work, this is most of them. So, depending on how many Twitter followers each of my tribemates has, you can see how much my reach increases. The biggest reach of the tribes that I’m in is 452,533 people! That’s HUGE!

3. How much time will it take up?

Not much is the short answer. If you simply join us as a member and don’t have a tribe of your own (there are currently enough tribes out there that you don’t need to worry about setting up your own), it’s a quick and easy thing. Now I have everything set up correctly, I probably spend ten minutes per day approving relevant posts. I know we’re all busy people, but this is a tiny portion of time compared to the potential benefits. Because if you’re seen to be active, to be approving other people’s posts, then they’ll approve yours, too. So where your blog posts might have only reached 6,000 followers beforehand, with Triberr this is multiplied many fold with a small amount of time on your part.

I realise this is a really, really short piece which doesn’t go into the nitty-gritty of setting up Triberr, finding tribes and so on, but as I said I didn’t want to write a novel in a blog post 😉 . Ultimately, even if you’re not technically-minded, once Triberr is set up, it’s just a matter of going in once a day, going to your stream and hovering over that share button for each post you want to share. Technology does the rest for you. If you don’t want to share a post, then click the hide link. You’ll soon get into a rhythm. Once your stream is empty, give yourself a pat on the back and move onto the next item on your to-do list. But don’t forget to watch traffic to your site increase, especially if you’ve taken the time to write engaging blog post titles – something I personally am working on improving, and am already seeing results.

So, there’s Triberr in brief. If I end up with lots more questions and feedback on this post, then I may well write another article in a couple of weeks about the more nitty-gritty side of things.

P.S. If you’re an erotica or erotic romance author and want to get started – come check out my tribe.

Hot Chilli Erotica

Hot Chilli Erotica


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