My Panels at SL Comic Con FanX 2016: Gaining Writer Resilience, Writing Tough Topics for YA, and Going Beyond Steampunk Goggles

Cindy Grigg Profile Comic Con 2016

SL Comic Con FanX 2016 is upon us! Here’s what I’m promoting and where I’ll be.

First of all, this is my first time having a booth, so look for my boutique press Misch Masch Publishing in Artist’s Alley, with CrankLeft. Our address is Teal 3. Come say hi!

I’m promoting three books:

First, the Peacock Lavine and the Aetherian Fates of Nott series, about an immortal Valkyrie who lives among mortals in Regency London.

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“A Norse Steampunk and Urban Fantasy Rollick and Tussle Through an Alternative Regency Iceland, England, and the Afterlife”, Peacock Lavine and the Aetherian Fates of Nott includes notes of Jane Austen’s day but with airships, societal hermits, Luddites, and of course, Norse supernaturals.

And yes, it’s okay to go Regency rather than Victorian and still be steampunk because the Industrial Revolution began in the 18th century.

This has been incredibly fun to write, and it definitely covers a lot of ground, so it may need to be your next adventure novel.

Please note that you may want to preview this book before sharing it with your mature MG’s. It’s pretty tame but does reference violence (Valkyries are Shieldmaidens and this is during the time of the Napoleonic Wars, plus Ragnarok!), sex (that it happens, not a play by play), and garden variety swears. The protagonist is 18 years old, but she’s lived in a compound so she’s both figuring out who she is and where she fits in the larger world. For that reason, both MG and YA readers may relate.

BUY THE FRIST BOOK ON AMAZON

 

Here’s Contestant #2!

Psychopomps or “guides of souls” are those entities who escort the nearly or newly dead to an afterlife realm.Psychopomps Cover 20

A TEENAGE GIRL’S FIGHT TO SAVE HER NEWBORN BROTHER FROM THE PHANTOM OF DEATH WHO SEEKS TO STEAL HIS SOUL

Little Bundle of Death by BEN LANE HODSON  

A PIRATE’S REDEMPTION FROM INFERNUM TO AETERNUS WITH THE GUIDANCE OF A SEA REAPER MERMAID

The Sea of Ghosts by RAYCHEL ROSE

A CORPSE DUSTER’S INITIATIVE TO OUTPROGRAM DEATH

Mobile Dusters by E.W. FARNSWORTH

A BRITISH SOLIDER’S ESCAPE FROM LIMBO AFTER HIS VALKYRIE GUIDE GOES ROGUE

 The Resurrectionist’s Kiss by CINDY GRIGG

… AND MORE!

 

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The third book is for writers, detailing how I speak my drafts rather than typing them, which has helped me be active by going on Writer Walkabouts, increase my daily word count, and more. A total lifestyle-changer, whether you write fiction or non-fiction!

I include a system of drills that are hopefully fun, as they incorporate works of classic literature.

Once you master this skill, you will feel like you’re working with eight arms and an octopod’s evil genius mind!!

The Productive Authors Guide to Dictation Full Cover E 2.png

Note: This is a new cover for the print version. The eBook features a previous cover until early April. Same content either way.

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Panels!

Friday March 25, 2016 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm


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Check out this main Panel Programming Page for more details, and have a wonderful week!

My Panelist Schedule for Comic Con 2015 #FanX15 in SLC

Comic Con FanX 2015

I am super excited to be a panelist at next week’s Comic Con 2015: Fan Experience in Salt Lake City, Utah. The last couple have been an absolute blast! 

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For all you writers, my book about how to save your poor wrists while amplifying your hourly word count came out a month ago: HOW TO DICTATE YOUR WRITING LIKE IT’S…2015. The first book in my middle grade series HULDUSNOOPS is also available, for those of you needing some Icelandic fantasy / sci fi in your lives (this should be all of you).

13 Advantages to Dictating Your Writing and What a Writing Walkabout Looks Like

Here is my panelist schedule, though you can also search for my name on the main event site or download the app. Please come up and say hi!

Friday January 30, 2015

2:00 pm: Writing and Health, Ballroom C

8:00 pm: Equality in Speculative Fiction, Ballroom C

I love going to Cons. The energy you get from being around that much nerdiness and creativity is palpable. And in the words of Stan Lee:

Comic Con Stan Lee Quote

So. Whether you are local or need to make the trip, it sounds like this is where you should be next weekend!!

But if you can’t make it, I’ll be posting about epic costumes and miscellany on Instagram which feeds to the right on this blog. 

Sabotage! 7 Ways to Deal with Writing Saboteurs

I don’t have any saboteurs of my writing at the moment–and it occurred to me, that’s just the time to write this post! Because I have had writing saboteurs in the past and human nature being what it is, I’m sure to have them in the future.

I love this definition of sabotage by Merriam Webster:

Sabotage:  The act of destroying or damaging something deliberately so that it does not work correctly.

To fight sabotage, consider these 7 strategies. The last several deal with people you can neither change nor easily walk away from, because that’s when sabotage really gets tricky.

1. Check the Person in the Mirror

That intelligent person you see in the mirror every day could easily be your most subtle writing saboteur.

One solution: When I first started writing, I wrote a kind of journal of what it was like to write. That revealed to me how often my mind churned out sabotage. 

“I think that sometimes love gets in the way of itself – you know, love interrupts itself. We want things so much that we sabotage them.” – Jack White

“Self-sabotage is when we say we want something and then go about making sure it doesn’t happen.” – Alyce P. Cornyn-Selby

2. Check that Person in the Mirror Again!

I’ve found it important to also be aware of how I behave as a saboteur. For example, I think most of us struggle with gossip. This creates a lot of problems for myself and those I am ‘trying to understand’ (we’re usually not, we’re usually judging) and a ton of lousy energy.

“Be less curious about people and more curious about ideas.” – Marie Curie

When trying to cleanse my own psyche of those trying to sabotage me, it makes no sense to be sabotaging others’ lives in any way. Putting other writers down makes you a worse writer every time, not a better one.

One solution: Gossip to a piece of paper, or your word processor, then burn it or delete it. Don’t hang onto it once it’s out. Or ‘gossip’ to your higher power to iron your feelings out, but don’t gossip to other people.

3. Become Better at Discerning When Sabotage is at Work and When It’s Not

Writing is important to me, but it’s not the most important thing to me and probably isn’t to you, either. If someone is pointing out my own priorities of family, for example, they are probably not sabotaging me.

Also, while most discussion or criticism of your work should not be labeled sabotage, be savvy enough to know that sometimes communication really is motivated by petty insecurity.

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Examples I and other writers have experienced include:

  • Authors of one sub-genre type putting down another entire sub-genre type (‘hard sci fi’ putting down ‘soft sci fi’, etc.)
  • Traditionally-published authors putting down all self-published authors, or vice versa
  • Reviewers, commenters, or even agents who want to be writers but aren’t yet so they lash out
  • Writing panelists who attack each other’s comments in front of an audience instead of cordially disagreeing
  • Writing industry politics in general

One Solution: Don’t internalize this stuff or even hate people for spewing it, because it’s very human.

Taylor Swift has it right, you must shake it off, though that song brings me to an important point. Expressing opinions or taste does not automatically make anyone a saboteur or a hater. For example, I cringe during the part where she starts talking in that song. It just doesn’t work for me. Is that gossip? Hate? Sabotage? Nope, that’s preference. That’s giving an honest review.

If I share in gossip or write some nasty review that tries to undermine someone’s good name, confidence, or sense of purpose as an artist–particularly to make myself feel or look better–that’s sabotage.

4. Lovingly Help Others Identify Sabotage When It’s Happening

Most of us aren’t jerks at our foundation. Most of us sabotage others out of non-awareness of our own fears: fear we won’t keep up; fear of losing comforts; fear of losing love; fear that we’ll never have what they have even though we feel we’ve worked harder for it; etc.

“Men go to far greater lengths to avoid what they fear than to obtain what they desire.” – Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code

One solution: Ask a question rather than out-and-out accusing someone of sabotaging you. I had the most success asking it this way: “Does me being a writer lead you to feel something that I’m not aware of, and if so, what is it so we can work it out?”

5. Re-wire Internal Responses to Sabotage

The jerk on the bus who scowls and tells you writing is a waste of time you can easily get away from. Your significant other, parent, friend, writing teacher, or others, not so much.

“There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me.” – Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

One solution: When people sabotage me, I can recondition my response to rejection. While it’s important to not smother the feelings of hurt and betrayal rejection necessarily brings with it, on a functional level, make sure writing operations do not shut down as you’re dealing with that! This way, someone else’s funk doesn’t rob me of my dreams.

6. Define Your ‘Walk-Away Points’

When I go in for a job interview, I should know how low a salary I’ll accept. What’s my walk-away point? Even with my most treasured relationship, there is a potential point I would jettison it all if things got terrible enough.

One Solution: I’m not advocating being reactionary or throwing relationships away. I’m advocating defining your boundaries. Clearly define for yourself the point at which ongoing toxic messages do or do not constitute a walk-away point, either from the person or from writing. That’s important to know about yourself.

 “You need boundaries…even in our material creations, boundaries mark the most beautiful of places, between the ocean and the shore, between the mountains and the plains, where the canyon meets the river.”
– Wm. Paul Young

7. Determine a Go-To ‘Walk-Away’ Procedure

If my walk-away point is reached, I’m going to be emotionally-spent so it’s always good to determine beforehand what I want to do, while I have all my mental and emotional faculties, and so I don’t overreact.  Am I going to put up with it while being better at not absorbing their toxic messages? Am I going to just stop contacting this person altogether until things change? Am I going to suggest counseling or mediation, knowing there’s probably a deeper problem behind the sabotage? It’s a personal question.

One solution: I haven’t had to do any of those things I just mentioned yet, thank goodness. Most people, when made aware of it, stop sabotaging. But when I realized one of my saboteurs would not relent, I made my writing a subject we would no longer discuss. I’ve had to use that a time or two since then as well, temporarily, so this has become my ‘walk-away’ procedure. I ask both of us to walk-away from the topic, not each other.

So far, it’s helped!

Any ways you’ve used to manage intentional or unintentional saboteurs to your writing? Please share!

Writing Morally Complex Characters

I’ve found that writing morally complex characters boils down to simultaneously setting them up to fail and succeed.

At some juncture in the story, even a “good” character should seem just as likely to make the wrong choice as the right one! Strong characters are described in layers so that by the time they reach a decision point, readers legitimately wonder what this character will decide and why.

A Few Classic Examples

To illustrate, here are some complex characters who struggled with a moral decision:

  • Will Edmond Dantès in The Count of Monte Cristo choose revenge or not? Dumas gives his protagonist plenty of justifications for revenge, to which even the most benevolent of readers can relate.
Super Old Cover for Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo

Super Old Cover for Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo, Wikipedia

  • What will Marlow choose as a result of being exposed to a megalomaniac like Kurtz in Heart of Darkness?
  • In Little Women, will Alcott’s Jo March decide it’s best to chase her dreams or become more content with day to day life?

Characters Are Only As Good As They Are Illustrative

Characters who are too good may end up being no good at all to your readers! Characters don’t even have to be likable or admirable to be interesting or valuable.

“I don’t know where people got the idea that characters in books are supposed to be likable. Books are not in the business of creating merely likeable characters with whom you can have some simple identification with. Books are in the business of creating great stories that make your brain go ahhbdgbdmerhbergurhbudgerbudbaaarr.”

John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars

I don’t tend to feel inspired by those characters an author is trying to pass off as just fundamentally and naturally amazing.

For a book to be of much use to me, I want the injustices articulated. I want the character all tangled up and tripping over emotional and cognitive responses. I want the vicissitudes of weighing a difficult decision explored. I want the moral issue itself investigated beyond just the obvious, be that through internal dialogue, conversations, or plot. I want to feel the character’s failures in my gut so I can better share the successes, or vice versa.

This Goes for Female Characters, Too. Obviously!

Or maybe I should write that ‘Obviously?’ because while things are getting better in this regard, some writers continue to produce a propensity of idealized, one-dimensional female characters.

How to Write Well-Rounded Female Characters

The idea that female characters are innately good rather than having to make conscious effort to be so is societal programming and blindness, in my opinion.

On a personal level, whenever a well-intentioned man says something to this effect, it gives me the impression they are really seeking exemption from developing said virtue themselves. Bleh! This sentiment also implies that it requires less effort for a woman to choose moral goodness than it does for a man. Nope. It takes tons of effort, at least in my experience! Any character who is written with a moral dilemma tends to feel more realistic to me.

More Reasons to Explore Moral Gray Area

I’ll even go so far as to say that delving into topics of moral ambiguity is not just okay, but noble. Here’s why:

  • Fiction is a place to think and decide without having to bear the harsh, real-life consequences.
  • Human darkness is in you and me and all our readers anyway. By describing it you’re calling it out to be examined and named, rather than left to fester, shapeless and unchallenged.
  • It’s more fun! It’s entertaining and being entertaining is a valuable service to your fellow humans. It’s relieving.
  • Your higher power writes that way. Probably. I feel like mine does. The Bible? Not exactly G-rated.

My style is still never going to be as gritty as some writers’ but I have felt my writing open up when I’ve decided to be more realistic about how my characters manifest a spectrum of human foibles, manifestations of fears, cruel intentions, and deleterious motivations.

But what do you think about all this? Please add your two cents! I always benefit from it.

But Have You Been Willing to Get Crazy? 20 Ways to Sacrifice More to Be a Writer

You’ve prioritized. You’ve communicated your goal to others in your life to negotiate more writing time. You’ve shown at least some discipline!

But if you haven’t committed to measures that feel a little bit crazy, you may be missing opportunities to become a more productive writer. I say this based on my experience of never getting anywhere with my writing for far too long. It feels good to finally be getting some traction on my writing discipline, so I thought I’d ramble about it today.

The more I’ve circulated among other writers, the more I’ve noticed that those who get things done often have a streak of writer-crazy. In fact, it’s very possible that Seal got it right:

“We’re never gonna survive unless we get a little bit crazy…” – Seal, classic 90s song, you’re welcome!

The Single Crazy by Seal

The Single Crazy by Seal

Some writers employ their creativity toward getting things done as if they were an interesting character in a novel–one you’d want to read about!

I want to be like those writers, not a dud. Duds don’t solve their own problems and stay in victim mode too long.

Often, they’re also unwilling to commit to significant sacrifice.

Which is not to imply that we have control over all results and conditions in our lives. But my point is that by even trying to solve our problems, we are happier than just deciding we are victims of whatever is going on.

The First Thing to Sacrifice

…is your excuses! I’m no poster child for all this, but I’ve created more time to write than many writers I know. I write creatively for 5 or 6 hours a day and usually get 9,000 words in.

To do so, I’ve had to stop feeding my internal excuses and commit to uncomfortable but rewarding innovation. I could easily not have the writing time or word count rate that I do (see my crazy dictation lady bullet below for more on how I do this). I know that for certain, because it took me a decade to get going with this writing seriously thing!

Before, I was simply not committed. I always had some thrift store that needed visiting, some tv show that needed watching “for inspiration”, or some aspect of my apartment that needed decorating.

Yet, if you asked me what my primary interest was I would quickly affirm that it was writing!

Really? Is that why I hardly ever, I don’t know, wrote?!

It’s evidence that we can be in love with something without being committed to it. At first, I’d write an hour here or there when I was in the mood. Gag!! This is the single most classic way artists trips themselves up!

To get more traction, I had to pry my excuses and lower-tier life luxuries or interests as if out of my clenched hands. I’ve had to consistently choose to write when I don’t feel like it.

11 Examples: What I’ve Sacrificed So Far

A lot of sacrifices I’ve made pivot around my decision to do without the security of a full-time job. That was scary for me because I support myself but it’s worked out fine.

I’m quick to say that I am single and without kids so I was able to commit to this decision without affecting anyone else. And yet! You know what? A lot of single, non-parental people don’t make this decision. Some of the things married, be-childed people benefit from, I surely don’t. My point is, it’s probably all sixes in the end. I had to learn to not let anyone else’s situation be an excuse for why they get to write and I don’t.

Not working full-time does not have to be something you choose. It’s just an example of doing what it takes to work it out, like these other things I’ve found useful to sacrifice:

Financial Sacrifices

  • I limit my eating out. This was pretty hard for a foodie like me. I make my own breakfast, lunch, and dinner to save money. This has actually become pretty fun. But nearly every night I have friends I could meet up with at a restaurant and I rarely join, so it’s a sacrifice!
  • I live in a small, old place. While many of my friends are buying houses or other worthy dwellings, my digs are cheap and small and similar to a college student’s.
  • I limit and economize travel. This is what I used to sacrifice for! I love seeing new places. Now that’s part of what I limit so I can be a writer. When I’ve needed to travel for research, I do so in ways which maximize adventure but not comfort. I sleep in tents, rental cars, or usually nasty hostels. This was romantic when I was 18. It’s not anymore. But it’s a sacrifice that allows me to learn and see what I want to and still be a writer!

Maybe instead of saving money you’re in the opposite situation where you should spend some money–hire that maid or personal chef!

Sacrifices of Ego

  • I say unabashedly, “Sorry, I can’t afford to do that. I’m a writer!” After years of getting a salary, I felt weird telling people I couldn’t join in for financial reasons. But the more I just said this, the more I found people were super supportive. Most cool people admire that you’re reigning in your spending to accomplish a goal or follow a dream.
  • I became the crazy dictation lady. It took me two months of practicing a couple hours a day but I trained myself to write using the Dragon dictation app. It’s uncomfortable. It uses a different part of your brain, I swear! But it tripled my hourly word count because you can talk faster than type. This means I’ve learned to ‘write’ via speaking, while walking. Despite the discomfort of people on the walking trail laughing at what I’m saying (and they do, because rambling about elves or time portals isn’t a typical cellphone conversation and people do notice). I’ve learned to have a thick skin and just smile when someone stares.

Sacrifices of Time

  • I limit my cleaning. Yup, I’m gross. Sure, I’d love to live in a cleaner place but I love being a writer more. My place is a wreck most of the time. I’m not innately disgusting, I just realize that in a given day I can either clean my floor or write a chapter. And the floor’s just going to get dirty again.
  • I limit or merge my socializing. In years past I’ve definitely tried to be at every social event, for every hour possible, even after it stopped being all that fun. Now I go to stuff I enjoy for just long enough to actually enjoy it. I also merge socializing with exercise like going on a walk, cooking dinner, or running an errand–stuff I would have to do anyway.
  • I merge reading and exercising. I go on walks while listening to audio books. I hate swimming but it’s good exercise so I bought a waterproof iPod. I get my daily laps in while listening to audio books rather than sitting around reading.
  • I limit my reading altogether. I know, this is pure blasphemy to most writers! My take on it is, that reading others’ writing is important but if you’re reading more than you’re writing, you might be more of a reader (not a writer). There comes a point where you’re consuming not producing. It’s harder to write than it is to read. That’s why we would rather read! Very few writers agree with me. But by not reading so indulgently, I create more time to write.
  • Same with tv shows. Same with movies. And I really hate it sometimes. There’s so much more I would love to watch!
  • I limit my time with other writers. Also controversial. Like many writers, I love the energy, camaraderie, perspective, and feedback from writer communities. This was a really hard one for me to reduce and nothing at all personal about anyone I’ve worked with. I just had to take a hard look at the time investment and decide to spend more of my writing time actually writing.

I totally acknowledge that even if some writers sacrificed to the hilt they would not be able to find five to six hours a day for writing. But if I’m being honest, I don’t think you or I or hardly anyone qualifies as a person with nothing else to give up. I think it’s likely that those who want to write more can find more to sacrifice without infringing on priorities like family.

Maybe not five to six hours. Maybe two. But every hour is gold to a writer, so fight for it!

How Can You Get a Little Bit Crazy? 9 More Ideas

We resist trying things that feel crazy because why? I guess it’s because we’re scared. The only remedy I’ve found is to take significant action anyway. My experience is that courage rarely feels courageous. It feels scary.

But it’s also invigorating to get a little crazy. Not irresponsible, just zany. What do you still have to sacrifice, reconsider, or rearrange, even if it feels weird at first?

Maybe not grooming yourself so much. 🙂

Maybe writing with a collaborator who does half the writing!

Maybe sacrificing even one hour of precious sleep every other day.

Maybe standing up for yourself more in a professional or personal relationship.

Maybe trying to involve your kids or significant other in your writing process (I’m sure that’s a trick), but who knows?

Maybe not working your current job.

Maybe working your current job but negotiating fewer hours for less pay.

Maybe taking the bus or train so you can write while you commute.

Maybe asking to telecommute, saving yourself a couple hours a day.

Some of those things might feel like crazy things to ask of your employer but you just never know until you try.

I don’t see myself as done sacrificing for writing. I keep finding more to trim back, more crazy to challenge myself with. So if you’ve figured out other writing productivity tricks, do share so I can up my commitment!

Top 100 Twitter Hashtags for Writers in 2014

Check out more than 100 Twitter hashtags in eight essential categories:

  • Learning to write
  • Learning to market or self-publish
  • Connecting with other writers
  • Using writing prompts
  • Staying accountable with writing goals such as word count
  • Staying up to date on your genre and audience
  • Staying up to date on specific ebook platforms
  • Promoting your finished work to readers

Hash What?

Hashtags are those descriptive words which help people find topics they are interested in, like #onions or #sloths. For writer types, hashtags are a way to attract readers, agents, or publishers while also connecting with other writers.

Twitter Hashtags

Don’t go overboard, but choose a few relevant hashtags when posting your writerly blog articles or other resources to Twitter. These should give you a great jump start!

Hashtags for Learning How to Write

#WriteTip
#WritingTip
#AskAuthor
#AskEditor

Hashtags for Learning How to Market or Self-Publish

#AskAgent
#Publishing
#SelfPublishing
#SelfPub
#GetPublished
#BookMarket
#BookMarketing
#PromoTip
#eBooks
#IndiePublishing or #IndiePub
#PubTip

Hashtags for Writing Prompts

#Creativity
#WritingPrompt
#StoryStarter

Hashtags for Word Count or Accountability

#1K1H (1,000 word written in an hour)
#WordCount
#WordAThon
#NaNoWriMo
#Write Goal
#WroteToday

Hashtags for Writers in the Trenches!

#Writing
#AmWriting
#AmEditing
#WIP (Work In Progress)
#WW or #WriterWednesday
#WritersLife
#WritingParty
#Storytelling
#CopyWriting
#Editing
#EditGoal
#IndieAuthor(s)
#WriteMotivation
#WritingBlitz
#WritersBlock
#WroteToday
#WriteChat
#WANA (We Are Not Alone)

Hashtags by Book Genre or Audience

#FanFic
#FlashFic

#Science Fiction
#SciFi
#ScyFy
#SciFiChat
#Dystopian
#SteamPunk

#UrbanFantasy
#DarkFantasy
#Fantasy
#Paranormal

#Crime
#Mystery

#Suspense
#Horror

#Romance
#Romantic
#RomanceWriter
#RWA (Romance Writers of America)
#Erotica

#PBLitChat (Picture Books)
#YA
#YALitChat
#MGLit (Middle Grade Lit)
#KidLitChat
#SCBWI (Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators)

#WomensFiction

#Literature
#LitChat
#LitFic

#NonFiction

#History
#HistFic
#Historical
#Biopic
#MemoirChat

#Comedy

#ShortStory

#Poetry
#PoetryMonth
#PoetTues

#ScriptChat
#ZineChat

Hashtags by Book Platform

#eBook
#eReaders
#iPad
#Kindle
#KindleBargain
#Nook
#Amazon
#Kobo
#Webfic
#Pubit
#SmashWords

Hashtags for Promoting Your Finished Work to Readers

#FridayReads
#StoryFriday
#GreatReads
#MustRead
#WhatToRead
#Novel
#Books
#Paperbacks
#BookWorm
#BookReview
#IndieThursday
#AuthorRT
#BookMarketing
#Novelines
#TeaserTues
#FreeBook
#FreeDownload(s)
#BookGiveaway
#99c

I suggest typing the hashtag in the Twitter search or an internet search engine to review several examples of people using it. Some of these have their own culture so make sure your use of it fits.

Consider researching hashtags about the topic you are writing about as well. For example, recently I’ve been using #fem2 because many of my topics have involved writing female characters.

Any I missed? Let me know!