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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Interjection Poetry

A Friday of an Office Shrimp (I find the word "rat" offensive):

Yawn-vrumm-gulp!
Click-click-click!
Nom-nom!
Click-click-click!
Vrumm-yikes-vrumm!
Yee-ha-ya-hoo!
Ooph-ooph-yay!
Zzzzzz...

A Romance
Oo!... Hi-hi! Hee-hee! Blink-blink!
Sniff! Aah! Sniff!
Smooch!... Smooch!...
Ooph-ooph
Ooph-ooph
Ooph-ooph
Ooph-ooph
Yay! Wheeee!

Post-Romance
Tum-tum-tee-dum! Tum-tum-tee-dum!
Aww! Aww! Boohoo! Boohoo! Click-click! Nom-nom! Clink! Gulp!
Ooph-ooph
Ooph-ooph
Ooph-ooph
Ooph-ooph
Waah! Waah! Waah!
Waah! Waah! Waah!
Waah! Waah! Waah!
Yikes!

Life
Waah! Waah!
Tip-toe, tip-toe!
Boohoo! Zit! Boohoo!
Smooch-smooch!
Memememememe!
Ooph-pant-ooph!
Waah! Waah! Zzzz... Waah! Waah!
Click-click-click
Yee-ha! Wheeee!
Ouch! Screech! Ouch!
Tum-tum-tum! Tum-tudum! Tum-tum-tum-tum...

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Caelin the Flier, an Awakeners Novel. Foreword (fragment)

The shadows of the past swift stream across life's floor
The tale of all times, nothings that now exist no more
While the wind with clumsy fingers softly fumbles at the blind
And sadly spins the fibre of the story in my mind...
Eminescu, “Now Far I Am From You”
Who are you?

I am Ileana Kasimira Rhi Dorna of House Valaya. I am the only daughter of King Vlad VI and Queen Marika. Princess, heir of Valaya Domain, Seadune Qalifate, shore of Delroth… oh, hell. Never mind. Those are words in the wind. Meaningless titles, names of lands I will never rule.

I am scared. I am helpless. Lost in a world I will never understand.

Zamolxis Almighty, Lord of the Underworld, help me find my way...

What are you?

I am my father and mother’s daughter. King Bloodlust’s greatest pride. Queen Mantis’ greatest shame. Just another in a long line of crowned criminals.

I am the Starry Sapphire. When I am in Dragon form, my scales shine bright blue and white, and my eyes give off a rainbow glow.

What do you want?

I want my enemies dead. Dead. Ruined. Gone. All of them. Skulls crunching, eyes lifeless, flesh decomposing under my blue bejewelled slippers. I want to transform and drink their blood.

Yes, that’s right. Of course, in human form we abhor cannibalism. In our Dragon form, we… think less and go by our instincts. Drinking the blood of the enemy you just killed is an instinct as strong as mating.

Whom do you want?


I want Caelin, but he’s gone. He had Awoken me. He taught me lust, and I...

Read continuation on September 16, 2014 - the release date of "Caelin the Flier, an Awakeners Novel".

The Awakeners' Facebook page welcomes everyone!

Welcome to the Facebook page of the Awakeners, my upcoming Technofantasy series.


Witch from the Zynebune caste watching the news in her crystal ball.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Influencer Marketing 101. Building your Influencer Network. Part 2

Dear reader,

We continue today with more advice on building your influencer network.

4. Do not rush to start pushing your product immediately.

In your pre-launch phase, just mention it from time to time. Otherwise, you will be no different from a door-to-door salesperson. Talk about related topics intelligently, smartly; quote some classics - a versatile person is always respected.

Be modest and don't dish out "I'm a misunderstood genius" messages. 

It's OK if you use sarcasm and are a bit caustic some times. Do not fear being a sharp but objective critic. Just do not be offensive and do not criticize anyone personally.

A cookie-cutter example on how to be a critic: if you find something is stupid, say "This is done stupidly for reasons I do not know" and not "What you've done is stupid because you're stupid". Learning how to stay polite when you're saying harsh things is great training for a potential public speaker.

Metatag Hag: Show you're worthy of attention. Thus, you will prepare your network for the fact that your product is worthy of attention, too.

5. Let your best influencers help you - learn from their networks.

Find your best influencer - for instance, whom do you want to produce your TV show? If it's a sitcom, is it Chuck Lorre? If it's sci-fi, is it J. Michael Straczynski? Make a list of your top five influencers, then follow everyone relevant from their follower lists. Trust me, you will find treasures there.

5. Follow successful peers.

Befriend those who work in the same field but have already reached more or less wide acclaim. Do not try to save time on building friendships in this level of influencers. Unlike decision-makers, many peers have started where you are starting now, and they still remember the struggle. Their psychology has not yet shifted to celebrity psychology; however:

Metatag Hag: Be deferential and respectful, and act as if your peer friend is already a celebrity. Well, compared to you, they are.

Peers can help you establish contacts in the respective industry, and maybe recommend you to the top influencer who helped them. Do not impose yourself, though; do not ask for favors. Treat people as people, not tools. Wait for an offer to introduce you to someone, but never beg for it. You will lose both the opportunity and the friendship.

6. Find influencers who help rookies.

A notable example in the literary world is Janet Reid, literary agent and owner of FinePrint Literary Management. Her alter ego, the Query Shark, invites every beginner writer to submit their attempts for query letters, and gives constructive critique. Query letters are cover letters with which aspiring authors accompany their submissions to agents and publishers. The service is absolutely free of charge.

Metatag Hag: This is why the Query Shark aka Ms. Reid is in my top five sharks people to respect. She does a huge load of difficult time-consuming work helping both individuals and a major community - without needing to show off a particular evening gown as she does it.

Yes, she is largely demonized, and this graphic short story shows her in a nutshell. Yet most fail to understand the magnitude of the community service this woman provides, except maybe those authors whose success story started with the words "Dear QueryShark". If you find this kind of "villain" in your own industry, follow his or her advice to a T. 

Well, to rephrase Princess Tiana, nothing's going to stop you now, even if you're not almost there. Frankly, you're not even close, but it's a start. You follow 2,000 people whose Tweets are a bonanza of precious information. If they are within a single industry, most of them know each other. If at least one of them will get to notice how talented you really are, you're on the right track.

As you Tweet in turn, always keep in mind that someone important may see your words. And never forget that we don't get a second chance to create a first impression. Even if you Twitted a perfect humbug, take the time to look back on your recent Tweets or posts. Delete it if your "Oh, how could I Tweet this stupid thing!" test renders positive results.

Metatag Hag: And if you chuckle at an old joke you made some time ago, do not hesitate to recycle it!

Next time, we will talk about software tools to help you in your work, like Social Oomph or Traackr.

Sincerely yours,
Anastasia Stratu aka Metatag Hag

Influencer Marketing 101. Building your Influencer Network. Part 1

Dear reader,

Today, we discuss our influencer network. How do we choose correctly those who impress us and people like us on a daily basis?

Step No.1: Build your Influencer Network.

At your early pre-launch stages, start with the the social media hubs. Later, when your product is rolling and you have time and funds to build your post-launch strategies,

- you will develop your influencer relations program,
- you will outline your influencer outreach plan,
- you will plan your real-life interactions with influencers, etc.,

...all according to corp strategies described in this or that Voice of Authority.

But while you're still a Tweeter in the Wilderness, stick to the social media. Plus, a solid SM platform will only do you good later.

I personally prefer Twitter as a faster way to put yourself in the spotlight, but you can apply some of my advice to other social media hot-spots. So here is the rookie's first rule: follow everyone, but do not follow everyone!

Let me explain. At first, you will want to be nice and return the favor to every follower, just like you're probably doing for years in your personal account, and it will be wise to do so. It will give you more Favorites and Retweets. But later, you will discover your feed is full of Tweets totally unrelated to your goal. And you'll start missing out on important messages from your top influencers.

You will need to weed down your initial quota of 2,000 followees to top influencers only. Later, when you grow from a wannabe to a famous boy/girl with your own social media coordinator and a larger follower-to-followee ratio, you can afford to be nice to everyone. Follow your favorite bands, sports teams, and other hobby-related accounts in your personal account, but never from your product's account.

Do not expect to have top influencer followers only! At first, all sorts of influencers will follow you. There is a way to reward your level 3 and 4 influencer followers if you want to show them the respect and appreciation you feel. Every now and then, drop by their feeds, comment on and favorite some stuff you really like. But retweet only things that are connected with you and your own agenda!

Advice on building your influencer network:

1. Pay attention to your chosen followees.

Level 1 influencers - actors, musicians and miscellaneous stars - all have verified accounts marked with a tick mark icon. But don't focus on those too much - their time is very expensive and they spend it accordingly. Of course, their word alone is both an endorsement, a thousand-dollar-worth ad, and a surefire way to get a contract, but how to get that word?

Say, if you write fangy romance, and Stephenie Meyer recommends your book, consider yourself almost in the Twilight zone. But there are tons of paranormal romance on the market. Even if you are published or self-published, you are a mere title lost in the waters of Amazon.com. For a star influencer to spend a considerable amount of time reading and endorsing your book, you have a long way to go. Plus, they don't like creating competition - next time, a reader with money for only one book, may choose your first novel over their tenth one.

Metatag Hag: To resume, that is one mountain top you just cannot jump onto. So focus on your climb of Everest, and when you make it, you will be visible to other mountain-top-sitters, and that's a totally different area of influencer marketing and psychology.

Your main target is Level 2 where the decision-makers dwell.

2. Do not forget the differences AND the similarities between celebrity psychology and businessperson psychology.

As soon as you established a follower-followee relationship with a Level 2 influencer, start studying their work. Visit their sites; comment on their recent achievements. Do not be bland and banal: use tasteful jokes (careful! "funny" sells, but not everyone's sense of humor is like yours), come up with some aphorisms and interesting homemade wisdom.

For example, recently I was Tweeting with @JoshCoffy and in dialogue, came up with the line: "The road to success is a maze, not a straight line". It got Retweeted and Favorited several times, and after that, top influencer after top influencer from the business world started following me. Now, according to @JaysonDeMers, a Seattle-based SEO firm owner, there is little direct rapport determined between social signals and the place of the advertised product in the search result rankings. Yet I personally think this rapport is important. The more top influencers follow you, the more chance you have to Tweet something worthy of their notice. And that is another step towards the endorsement you crave.

3. Do not hesitate to use flattery.

Just make it fine and discreet - top influencers are all smart people who will know how to decode your message the right way. And stop lamenting about being too proud to flatter people! As I say frequently, when you kiss some influencer boot, you don't have to bend down - you have to jump up. Moreover, if your top influencers are from the field you work in, they're bound to have come up with something worthy of admiration, and that deserves mustering up a sincere compliment. When someone like that follows you, and you say you're honored, it's not insincere flattery. The attention of a big fish is truly and objectively an honor for a small fish. 

When a high-profile person follows you, respond with a thank-you note. But not everyone will react positively to that: be prepared to receive all sorts of reactions in response to a polite thank-you note. For example, when I was followed by one @JoshStern, I sent a thank-you note and received back a Tweet that was quite insulting. Like all insults questioning qualities that we believe to be our strengths, it caused intense butthurt (excuse the word, but it's not a mere addition to our urban dictionaries - it is a popular trend, too). After three "bite me" Tweets and a weekend of rest and reflection, I deleted those Tweets and worded a conclusion I want to share with you. Do not be surprised - it coincides with an age-old wisdom.

Metatag Hag: If you want to swim with the sharks, you need a thick hide.

That includes ignoring insults, rejections, and doubts. You are the best, and that must be a universal truth in your inner universe.

You also need to learn to manage your need for validation. But that is the subject for another Metatag Hag note in another article.

One more important thing: do not waste time thinking WHY this or that person said or did this hurtful thing. Trust me, when I say "weekend of reflection", I only indicate the span of time between insult and conclusion. The mere affair took me all of 15 minutes.

We will continue next time with more tips.

Sincerely yours,
Anastasia Stratu aka Metatag Hag

Influencer Marketing 101. Introduction

Dear reader,

Although I normally prefer to skipping the intro and getting to the point, a little explanation is in order.

This body of information and advice is not for SEO/SEM specialists who know it all about how to push a product to the first Google search results page.

I am writing this series of articles for the regular talented person who doesn't know how to make him- or herself noticed. I am reaching out to the regular creative but not quite marketing-savvy mind in Uncle Sam manner. I want YOU to make it! I want YOU to be the hot news!

People talking about you - that Mount Olympus of the social media era - is your goal. After all, we all know the second page of Google results is the perfect place to hide something, like evidence to a crime. Seriously, though, if you are vying for public attention, being on the first page is as difficult as climbing Everest, let alone Olympus. If you are trying to hide something nasty, don't hope even the 100th Google search results page will help. This is the paradox of our life.

So don't do nasty things and be careful with every step. This is my advice to everyone - to influencer marketing students in particular.

Say, you are strictly a man or woman of letters or a starry-eyed Game of Thrones fan, and you know little about marketing, but your talent is to design mega action figures or draw supercool graphic novels. You don't just want the world to find out about it. You want your special product to become a household name.

A Word from the Metatag Hag

For instance, you have a killer TV show idea, you're working on the script, you're enjoying yourself swimming in your little sea of creativity. After all, any writer will tell you that the writing part is the best and easiest part. But don't forget it was the promo that, at some stage or another, has earned from you all the expletives you knew. So be smart, learn from your past mistakes, and dedicate equal amounts of time to both activities - creating and promoting what you create.

Creative minds today may need help in promoting their product or content. One way is through accreditation and endorsement by top influencers.

Influencer marketing and influencer psychology are subjects of growing importance in the field of SMM - Social Media Marketing.

Contrary to the common belief, the hot shots and big Kahunas are not the only influencers - your neighbor is an influencer, too. Your little sister with her blog and her 5,000 Facebook friends - even more so. If you're promoting a musical product, your neighborhood's garage band is the first to befriend - trust me, they know all the sites and are following all the people. Don't forget about Grandma and her book club, too!

The difference is level and impact.

Business owners, top literary agents, Hollywood producers - those are top level influencers. As you can see from the infographic below, they can give you more reach, but the degree of influence will be lower.

Not to mention your own influence on them - to them, "unforgettable" is not what it means to the rest of the world.

Bottom line: if you want to sing with Justin Bieber, you have to start with impressing your Mom.

So don't be afraid to look for ways to be un-for-gettable! Make up a new word, think of a catchy tagline, come up with a hilarious joke...

Metatag Hag: ...but beware gimmicks!

Now, let's take it you have covered the first two levels. Your family, friends, and friends of friends know about your new product.You have a small but devoted fandom who like you and think you are worthy of acclaim. Yet they cannot give you the accreditation that can land you a network of high-profile contacts and eventually a contract.

We all know the old adage about making one step at a time. Rephrasing an old Danube-Carpathian saying, "you cannot start fattening your pig on Christmas Eve". So, if you want your product to be in stores by Christmas, start feeding your social media Babe now.

Actually, you should have started in February, but you're not a big corp and you don't play by their rules. Nor do you have their resources. Luckily, you have all the tools to start promoting your talent at zero expense. Just use your good old toys - blogs, pages, accounts - you only used for a little blah-blah-show before.

Metatag Hag: Influencer marketing is a key strategy in your battle plan. Every day, we are both influencing and being influenced by someone or something.

Next time, we will continue with Step No.1 - Building your Influencer Network.

Sincerely yours,
Anastasia Stratu aka Metatag Hag

Monday, July 28, 2014

Reflections on the future of the Awakeners

Spoiler alert!

I am immensely happy to hear that  my writing was associated with the Game of Thrones phenomenon, though. It gives me hope that the target audience will, too.

You asked about Valaya being inspired by Valyria. Contrary to the obvious similarity to Valyria, it is actually a reference to Valahia. In the Middle Ages, the domains that now form the core of Romania, were called the Principality of Valahia. Transylvania, now part of #Romania, was an autonomy within the Hungarian Kingdom back then. Valahia is pronounced [vah-‘lah-khee-ya], but if the “h” were mute, it would be pronounced like… correct! Valaya.

By the way, I intend to create a domain of vampires within the realm of Transarcane – it will be called Zebenbergen or a variation of this word. It is a reference to #Transylvania – it had several names in the Middle Ages, including Siebenbürgen, which is German for The Seven Cities.

No, seriously, can we omit #vampires? And lose such a precious keyword? What urban fantasy/paranormal romance would do without vampires today? We can badmouth Twilight all we like, but Twilight was a historical threshold for UF/PR, just like Harry Potter was for magus fantasy. Only I do not intend to make my vampires glamorous stock-character hotties (like Edwardella or Beldward – this is my response to those who created Robsten). I’m open to suggestions here...

Thanks for calling my twin-identity idea “fantastic”. This is extravagant praise from someone with your expertise in literature. Actually, I went a bit further: every single Transarcaner has dual nature – #Faerie self and human self. Also, their caste system is built on their Faerie distinctions:

- Dragons are royalty and lords; they are mostly cheerful folk who like their pleasures and don’t meddle too much in politics; kings are as democratic as is humanly/dragonly possible in the situation, except the Seadune Qalifate, which is a caricature of the Muslim world.

- Elves are Artists – and mostly the bad guys in the Awakeners series, because they are the only ones who suffer of severe racial superiority and imperialistic complexes, hate the current ruling caste, discriminate the other castes, and want to gain domination by treason, deception, and other unsavory methods. My Elves are some sort of “white sahibs” of the pre-1947 era, only sans the power et avec pointy ears;

- Pixies are lawyers (figures, right?);
- Leprechauns are traders and merchants;
- Greenmen are healers and medicine workers (tongue-in-cheek, naturally – I wonder how I don’t have a dent in my mouth yet);

- Brownies are servants – I hope no one will seek innuendos in the name of a legit faerie creature and its derivation from a color. Indeed, #tolerance is a serious and important subject, but linguistics much? Let’s all call black-and-white TV African-American-Non-Hispanic-Caucasian TV and resurrect Michael Jackson to rewrite the song! I only wonder how this monstrous but perfectly politically correct construction will fit into the upbeat rhythm of the immortal hit, BlackorWhite...

Incidentally, Brownies [Russian: do-mo-vy-ye] come from Celtic folklore and evidently serve as inspiration for Dobby - they were supposed to be given clothes in order to leave a house.

Trolls are caretakers; they are very docile and positively cute if not beautiful – after Edwardella being called beautiful on every page, the word if not the concept kinda makes me cringe.

Etc. Again, the above list is for Transarcane.

The rigid caste system is the explanation why they are frozen in the Middle Ages for millennia and millennia – after all, creatures who live long lives and are not stupid or exceedingly malign could have figured their way to iPad and spaceship era. But when the caste system is strong, #social #evolution is hardly possible, especially when they can’t intermarry on the most primal level - no children. Dragons and Trolls are not genetically compatible and cannot procreate, not even in fantasy, right? Well, I’m talking about well-researched writing, not a pile of words that seem just right right now (repetition intended).

In The #Awakeners series, the only way out from the caste is either priesthood (the Redmen caste) or the military (the Blackmen caste). This is in tribute to Stendhal’s "Le Rouge et le Noir" where Julien Sorel, young parvenu et gigolo, has only these two ways to choose from in his strive for greatness. He ends up on the guillotine, by, the way, which is dire warning to all unscrupulous social climbers of all ages and lands 

Ah, I forgot the Wizards caste that subdivides into 4 categories. More details will follow – I’m approaching “too much info alert” limit.

Finally, I gotta do this: 2014, Anastasia Stratu, boilerplate, blah-blah, copyright, yadda-yadda, all rights reserved, nah-nah. What else do I have to say to make you understand that if you want to reprint this in #official #media, you gotta ask me first. If you read it down to this point, of course.

Otherwise, you can Like, Share, Repost, Retweet, Pin, and otherwise make love to this article in every possible way you can imagine. Of course, I meant the F-word. After all, we're all adults here, even the late teens who read PN/YA to learn making-out techniques and watch Game of Thrones because everybody does, even suckling babes  Seriously, the only way you've never seen GoT is that you're Martian. Because Tibet villages and tree monasteries in the Amazon forest all have WiFi now.

Sincerely yours etc.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The first swallow of my blogger spring

"Is this an European swallow or an African swallow?" Monty Python would ask.

European currently nesting in Canada, but that fact is irrelevant.

Ability to swallow pride and move on: 100%

Three words on me: Writer. Technofantasy. Designer of worlds from scratch.

Sol Vortex and Transarcane are just two examples showing that I'm good at it.

My first Awakeners series story set both in Transarcane and on Earth. It is inspired by the Flier, a major Danube-Carpathian myth. For all that, Transarcane is still a brand-new world, and I created it.

Parental advisory: my fiction is in the 18+ category. So if your teenage daughter mentions something like wanting her boyfriend to be a Caelin and uses the words "erotic awakening", I would advise monitoring her reading more closely.

You will also find here articles on Social Media Marketing by me and my alter ego, the Metatag Hag. If you are a talent trying to learn promotion and self-marketing, the Influencer Marketing 101 series is your ticket (to a swimming-with-the-sharks cruise!)

More talk will be dedicated to my other fields of professional interest:

- Literary analysis
- Fates of publishing
- Commercial content writing
- Translations and terminology

Otherwise, it's

The Saturday Night Nerdvana Show!
The authorship of the word "Nerdvana" belongs to the creators of "The Big Bang Theory". Copyright notice pending.

We'll talk about:

- Books
- Languages and conlangs (like this one - Valyrio muño ēngos ñuhys issa!)
- TV and movies
- Comic books - although I am not a specialist; I'll have to rely on my fellow Nerds
- Computer and video games - same, although I know a thing or two about gameplay building
- Nerdvana trivia, autography, cosplay, collectibles etc.
- Conventions, roleplaying, and other gatherings
- Etc.

Attention

  • interested parties,
  • other citizens,
  • avid readers,
  • nerds and geeks,
  • "pro" men and women,
  • and, I daresay, fans:


You are at home here. Do whatever you like.

Sincerely yours,
Anastasia Stratu
(also known as Anastasia Duchevski, Metatag Hag, Arien, formerly known as Karmacoma)