Thursday, February 5, 2009

My Touch, Google Alerts and Divas

I just can’t say it enough – I love my iPod Touch. When I received it for Christmas, I was only aware of maybe 40% of its capability. Now that I’ve seen it in action, I’m blown away by it’s usefulness. No, I’m not going to tell you everything it can do because you can go look it up yourself. What I do want to tell you is - I’m addicted to it. I carry it with me everywhere. Even to bed.

You see, we have satellite link up for our internet service so within seconds of putting on my Touch, I’m on the net. Now, when I’m expecting an email but don’t feel like sitting at my laptop waiting for it, I take my Touch to the kitchen or even to bed. Not only can I check my email, or see if someone comments on my blog, but I can even read eBooks on it. Or check my calendar. Or add something to my shopping list. And all the while I’m at the kitchen counter or huddled under the blankets in my bed. It’s so efficient... I love it.

My morning routine has changed since I rec’d my Touch, too. Before, I wouldn’t check my email until after breakfast around 9 am. But now, I check my email, calendar, and blogs first thing in the morning while I’m relaxing with a coffee.

Usually, the first things that arrive in my mailbox each morning are my Google Alerts. I only discovered these gems a couple months ago. It’s a service you set up with Google whereby you tell them to alert you whenever your name is mentioned anywhere on the net. When I first set it up, I had them alert me whenever Anita Draper was mentioned but apparently, there’s some politician in the States with that last name and I was being bogged down with alerts. I switched it to Anita Mae and now I receive about a dozen or so a day. Half of them are from items I’ve posted on the net like my personal blog posts or Prairie Chick posts. But, I also get an alert from blogs which list me on their blogroll, which is nice. And, I get an alert whenever anyone talks about me. This is my favourite part. It’s like legally eavesdropping.

So the other day, I was drinking my morning coffee, going through my Google Alerts on my Touch... deleting the ones that were about Anita somebody or Mae someone... and one Alert caught my eye. It was for Anita Mae – but I quickly realized it wasn’t about me but another Anita Mae who died last week at the ripe old age of 98 yrs. I deleted that one and kept reading.

I saw that Donna Alward quoted me on her blog because she liked my review of her book. That was nice.

But, what I was really hoping to see, was an email telling me I’d final’d in the Linda Howard Award of Excellence contest. It was supposed to be announced the week of Feb 2nd and I was getting antsy. So there I was, tapping through my emails, and another one caught my eye. It contained the word ‘Contest’. My little heart started beating faster. My mind slowly ingested the words. It wasn’t the contest results at all, but a Google Alert with my name listed on the Contest Diva blog at http://contestdivas.blogspot.com/2009/02/2008-divas-gateway-to-best-contest.html .

And because my name was in blue, I knew I’d finally arrived as a writer. Now you have to understand, not everyone who enters the contests can be a Diva. You have to final – twice.

And last year, I did. Charley's Saint final’d in the Golden Gateway and the Gateway to the Best contests. And when my name didn’t show up as a Diva, I thought, ‘No Fair!’ But it was just a matter of time, and there my name was – in blue.

So, what is the significance of the blue? It means, ‘Upward Movement’. Are you still in the dark? Well, every time you final, you move up a level. I’m at the bottom level under ‘Two Finals’ and they go all the way up to ‘Sixteen Finals’. I can’t imagine finaling 16 times without selling my manuscript. How does a person get the energy to keep submitting? But then, I guess it’s the same as receiving rejection slips. You keep at it until it’s accepted. And one day, the word SOLD will appear after my name like some of the others on the Contest Diva page.

Why am I so thrilled? Because like those rejection slips, it’s visual proof that I’m not just sitting on my writing. I’m moving forward. Whether it’s on an editor’s desk, in the slush pile or with a contest judge. Someone is looking at my words. And, I’m on my way up.

And do you know what? Maybe tomorrow when I’m sitting there drinking my morning coffee, I’ll tap on my Touch and find an email saying I’ve final’d in the Linda Howard Contest. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful way to start my writing day, eh?

Do you subscribe to Google Alerts? Do you read eBooks on any kind of eReader? Do you enter the contests? I’d love to hear your experiences with all of these...

14 comments:

Karen said...

You're way ahead of me, Anita because the answers to your questions are no, no, and no. I'm thinking about entering a contest or two but that is as far as I've got.

KellyMarstad said...

I have a sony ebook reader and two ebook readers that are a little more old school, plus a tungsten which can read docs. But on of my former titles is on Stanza five of the itouch promotional screen off the apple website. It's a display of the bestsellers list and they took the screen shot while I was on it. Gave me some warm fuzzies seeing that.

Jana Richards said...

Hi Anita,
Congratulations on becoming a 'Contest Diva'. You are a person with energy, enthusiasm and determination, all the things it takes to make it in this business.

I have Sony ebook reader, but I have to confess that I haven't used it that much. Not because I don't like it, but mainly because I haven't had much time to read in the last few months. When I have had time I've been doing research reading.

But I'm hoping that will change very quickly. Last night I downloaded 16 free Harlequin ebooks from the Sony estore! Yeah! Harlequin is having an anniversary and are offering these free books. They include books from many subgenres that I haven't had an opportuntity to read before. Many thanks to Hayley who sent an email alerting me to this bargain of the year. I'm on vacation at the end of February so I plan to take all my books with me.

I've heard of Google alerts but I haven't signed up. It would be kind of nice to know if any of the on-line promotion I do actually results in anyone talking about me, and hopefully buying my books. You've given me something to consider.

Jana

Anita Mae Draper said...

Thanks okay, Karen, because we're all at different points in our writing journey.

If you do decide on entering a contest, though let me know if you have questions and maybe I can ease the way a bit.

Anita Mae Draper said...

Hey Kel - that would be neat seeing my own book on promotional material for another company... well, I guess it would be neat seeing my book anywhere at this point. lol (And yes, I'm back to writing TT)

I'm so glad you told me about the Stanza application. I have access to ebooks I'd been hoarding but didn't want to read on my laptop because I couldn't get comfy. In fact, I'm up to chap 6 on yours and I can honestly say I've never read a more imaginative story - ever. I was so worried I wouldn't like it cause then what would I tell you... but so far it's exceeded my expectations and apparently from what you've said, I haven't even reached the good stuff yet. I'll keep you informed.

Thanks for visiting us. Now, get back to your own writing... :0

Anita Mae Draper said...

Thanks, Jana. I never thought I'd be a Diva anything so it's kind of nice. 8)

Yes, those Harlequin ebooks are a thank you from them to us, the readers, for supporting them over the years. I have to apologize to the SRW because I wrote a blogpost about the free ebooks on my site but didn't even think to tell the rest of the members about them. My bad. I'll throw my thanks in to Hayley for sending out the email.

The Google Alerts are super easy to subscribe, change and unsubscribe. It takes seconds to accomplish and you might be surprised at the results. You might be inundated with Alerts with 'Richards' however since it's such a common name, so for you, I'd ask Google to alert you whenver the name 'Jana' was mentioned and see how that goes. Just my thought.

Thanks for stopping.

Renee Ryan said...

Anita Mae,

WOW, congrats on making Contest Diva status! You are one step closer to publication. I say this as someone who got a publishing contract as a direct result through a contest. Woohoooo, for you!

Now, I received a Kindle reader as a present from a fellow writer. I love it, but I'm still a paper kind of gal. It's going to be hard to teach this old dog a new trick. But, hey, I've taken the first step, huh?

~Renee~

Anita Mae Draper said...

Thank you, Renee. It's so nice of you to drop in. Of all the reading I've been doing to ready myself for your Feb 28th visit here as a Guest Blogger, I somehow missed the part of you starting out with a contest. That is so neat! And encouraging, too.

You rec'd a Kindle as a gift from a fellow writer? Quick - send me an email and tell me who it was... I want one, too. :D

No?

Uh... how about I borrow your Kindle until you're ready to 'learn a new trick'?

Negatory on that too, eh.

Well, you can't blame a gal for trying.

Enjoy your Kindle. From what I've heard, it's a wonderful ebook reader.

KellyMarstad said...

Hey!! that's awesome. Thanks Anita. And if you EVER read anything of mine you don't like, you should say so. I'd want to know what didn't work for you and why. I'm not a writing diva and have learned a lot about how to take criticism in the spirit it's offered.

Suse said...

Hey Anita, congratulations on becoming a diva! That must be exciting for you. Heck, I'm excited for you.

I haven't checked out any ereaders yet, but would like to see what they're about. Any ebooks that I buy, I have to read on my laptop.

I've recently heard of Google Alerts, but I'm not sure that it would be worth it for me, because there are a lot of people with my name out there. And since all my writing that has been published is under that name, I'm not sure what to do.

Good luck on the Linda Howard contest.

Anita Mae Draper said...

Thanks Suse. As for Google Alerts for your name - there might be a way to use quotes so it only shows your exact name and doesn't split it into separate words. I don't know because I haven't needed to delve into it any more than I did. It might just take some playing around. At least it's free. :)

As for the ereader, remind me to show you my Touch next time we get together. Catch you later...

Janet said...

Coming late to the party today. Great post, Anita - and good luck with the contest. And Congrats on being a contest Diva!

No e-reader for me (it's on my wishlist). And very few contest entries (mostly with my short story writing). Not sure why, but maybe it's something I'm going to have to think about.

Janet

Anita Mae Draper said...

Hey Janet - you're never too late for this party. This is from someone who didn't answer yesterday's post until tonight...

It seems that writers either thrive on the feedback from contests, or they have no time for them. I was just looking at the email Suse sent everyone about all those other contests and you know, none of them appealed to me. And for the most part, they have $100 cash prizes. Wheras there usually isn't a monetary prize for the contests I enter. But I don't enter them for the money...

Thank goodness we're all different.

Joanne Cleary said...

Oh toooo cool. Legally eavesdropping, I just love the thought of that.

Thanks :-)