Make a basic gradient layer with Photoshop

A gradient in an image is a gradual transition from one color to another color.

Example of using a gradient layer to make text stand out

Here are the before and after versions of a book cover where a gradient layer was used to improve the readability of the title text. The color transition is from one of the blues in the image itself, and because the opacity is set so low, the effect is very subtle.

And here’s what the gradient layer looks like without the image.


 
How to create a gradient layer

  • Create a new layer.
  • In the new layer, create the desired shape using the appropriate selection tool. You can add a gradient to any shape.
     

     

     
  • Select the gradient tool.
     

     
  • Select the two colors to transition between. This is done using the same color selection tool you normally use. The top square sets the starting color of your gradient, and the bottom selects the ending color. The top left corner of your window will show an example of what the gradient will look like.
     
  • Select the desired type of gradient from the menu at the top left: linear, radial, angular, reflected, or diamond.
     

     
  • Determine where on the shape you just created that you want the gradient to start. Click on this spot and hold the mouse down.
  • Drag the mouse pointer to wherever the gradient should end. You’ll see a line from the starting point to the end point. Release the mouse.
  • The gradient you created will appear on your layer.
     

     

References

Photoshop version

The version of Photoshop used for this post was the 2017.1.1 Release of Adobe Photoshop CC, 20170425.r.252 x64, on OS X 10.13.1.

   
 

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Story spotlight: “Beneath the Knowe” by Anthea Sharp

From USA Today bestselling author Anthea Sharp, a magical faerie tale featuring an ancient Celtic setting, music, and the ageless denizens of the Bright Court.

Can music overcome fey magic?

When the chieftain’s infant son is stolen away by the fey folk of the Bright Court, Maeve Donnelly journeys beneath the faerie hill to save the child.

Her only weapon is a simple pennywhistle, and the music running in her bard-gifted blood…
 
 
“Beneath the Knowe” is in The Faerie Summer bundle. You can learn more on BundleRabbit, Goodreads, and the bundle’s Facebook page.
 


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About the Author

Growing up on fairy tales and computer games, Anthea Sharp has melded the two in her award-winning, bestselling Feyland series, which has sold over 150k copies worldwide.

In addition to the fae fantasy/cyberpunk mashup of Feyland, she also writes Victorian Spacepunk, and fantasy romance. Her books have won awards and topped bestseller lists, and garnered over a million reads at Wattpad. She’s frequently found hanging out on Amazon’s Top 100 Fantasy/SF author list. Her short fiction has appeared in Fiction River, DAW anthologies, The Future Chronicles, and Beyond The Stars: At Galaxy’s edge, as well as many other publications.

Anthea lives in the Pacific Northwest, where she writes, hangs out in virtual worlds, plays the fiddle with her Celtic band Fiddlehead, and spends time with her small-but-good family.


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Interview: Anthea Sharp on “Once Upon a Quest”

Meet Anthea!

Anthea Sharp writes fairy tale retellings, Victorian steampunk, fantasy romance, and has combined the Realm of Faerie with immersive gaming in her Feyland series. Once Upon a Quest is the third volume in the Once Upon anthology series.

Once Upon a Quest

Once Upon a Quest is a collection of fifteen tales of adventure, all brand new fairytale twists from bestselling and award-winning authors. With inspirations ranging from The Ugly Duckling to Snow White, and everything in between (including trips to Camelot and Oz), these fabulous tales are full of adventure, magic, and a touch of romance.

Elly took me out and set me gently on the floor. The stone was cold beneath my paws. I walked forward until I was a short leap from the throne. The fetid smell of ogre sweat pinched my nose, and I could hear the breath rasping in and out of his throat. One of his hands was big enough to crush me, should he so choose.

“Your eminence.” I made the ogre a bow. “My name is Mistress Bootsi, and I have come to look upon your might.”

“A talking cat?” He laughed, a harsh, nasty sound. “If you thought I’d be impressed, I’m not. I have no use for you.”

The ogre stood and, in a wink, transformed to a huge lion. He roared, and I shivered in fear. My instincts clamored for me to run, run! It took all my courage to stand my ground, and I hoped that Elly had the sense to do the same. Being breakfast for a lion was not part of my plan.

– from “Mistress Bootsi” by Anthea Sharp

The Interview

How did the ‘Once Upon’ anthology series get started?

A group of author friends and I started kicking around the idea of dark fairytale retellings. Everyone got excited to do the project, and I offered to manage the details, since I have experience running multi-author projects and anthologies. The fabulous Christine Pope offered her graphics skills, and Once Upon A Curse was born! It sold very well, and we decided to make this a yearly project. Quest is the third collection, after Curse (2016) and Kiss (2017).

How did you come up with the ‘quest’ theme?

We needed something to match the other titles. Curse (dark tales), Kiss (romantic tales)… and then Quest, featuring adventurous tales. We’re thinking about getting a little wild next year, and doing SF-set stories with Once Upon A Quark

After that, who knows? 🙂

What do you find compelling about fairy tales?

The archetypal plots and characters of fairy tales still resonate today, though all the authors are having fun putting modern twists on the stories!

Your own story in the collection, “Mistress Bootsi,” was inspired by the the fairytale “Puss in Boots” (also known as “The Master Cat”). Why did you pick this particular fairytale as the basis for your story?

When thinking of quests and adventure, “Puss in Boots” just stood out to me as a classic tale full of magic and adventure. Plus, we have a new kitty in the house, so felines are on my mind these days!

Your Feyland series is also based in part on fairy tales. What aspects of fairy folklore have you used in that series, and what inspired you to combine that with gaming?

I grew up on collections of fairy tales and also singing some of the classic old fairy ballads. I’ve always loved the story of “Tam Lin”, where the maiden saves her knight (in fact, we have a “Tam Lin” retelling in Once Upon a Quest).

I’ve also played computer games since, well, Zork, and then more recently lots of MMOs. I got to thinking one day (in 2010) about the parallels between being in-game and the descriptions of humans sucked into the Realm of Faerie: time moves strangely, everything feels intense, you emerge dazed and feeling like you’ve been somewhere magical and not-of-this-world…

And Feyland was the result – a series where a computer game is the gateway to Faerie. It’s not a new idea, and portal fantasy has a long, wonderful tradition (I suppose there’s a bit of my love for Narnia in the books as well) but I think my gaming experience put a new, different twist on the theme. I’m delighted to say that the Feyland books have found a wide audience, and I still have two more books planned in the series! The prequel is free, and the first book, The Dark Realm, is just .99 cents at all ebook retailers, for those who are interested in diving in.

You play the Irish fiddle! Tell us about the kind of music you play – and about your band, Fiddlehead.

I’m classically trained, but discovered Irish music in college, and never looked back. I love playing the fiddle, and my band, Fiddlehead, has three CDs out (find them on cdbaby.com). I also love putting music into my stories, and have released a short story anthology called Tales of Music & Magic that combines my love of magic, music, and short tales.

What story (or stories) are you working on now, and what’s fun about what you’re writing?

I’m currently working on another fairytale retelling series, complete with a dark, enchanted forest, elves, and two sisters who must fight on opposite sides of an epic battle. Hoping to get those books out in 2019!

Growing up on fairy tales and computer games, Anthea Sharp has melded the two in her award-winning, bestselling Feyland series, which has sold over 150k copies worldwide.

In addition to the fae fantasy/cyberpunk mashup of Feyland, she also writes Victorian Spacepunk, and fantasy romance. Her books have won awards and topped bestseller lists, and garnered over a million reads at Wattpad. She’s frequently found hanging out on Amazon’s Top 100 Fantasy/SF author list. Her short fiction has appeared in Fiction River, DAW anthologies, The Future Chronicles, and Beyond The Stars: At Galaxy’s edge, as well as many other publications.

Anthea lives in the Pacific Northwest, where she writes, hangs out in virtual worlds, plays the fiddle with her Celtic band Fiddlehead, and spends time with her small-but-good family.

Find Anthea at:

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Use Draft2Digital to automatically submit your books to Goodreads

Sometimes your books appear on Goodreads as if by magic, and other times they take a few days to show up – or, mysteriously, don’t show up at all. You can add your book yourself, but this requires you to keep an eye on this every time you release a new title.

If you publish through Draft2Digital, they give you the option to have your books automatically submitted to Goodreads – as well as to other catalog sites they work with.

Prerequisites

  • You already have a Draft2Digital account.
  • Your book is distributed to at least one channel through Draft2Digital.

Set up Draft2Digital to automatically submit your books to catalogs

  • Log in to your Draft2Digital account.
  • Click on My Account, then on Advanced User Options.
     

     
  • Make sure “Submit books to Catalog Sites” is selected.
     

     
  • Click Save.

Non-Draft2Digital sales channels

It’s still a good idea to keep an eye on other, non-Draft2Digital channels on your book’s page at Goodreads. For example, if you go direct to Kobo, but use Draft2Digital to publish at iBooks and Barnes & Noble, you might need to add the Kobo channel to your book’s Goodreads page. But by utilizing this feature of Draft2Digital, your book will automatically have a page on Goodreads.

References

   
 

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Story spotlight: “Cauldron Bubble” by Rebecca M. Senese


Mathilde Blackmore needs to move out of her mother’s house pronto, but her new home has to meet some specific requirements in order Young witch Malinda Hazelthorn excels with the wand but sucks at potions work. So naturally her project for the Witches and Warlocks Special Exhibit demands both. As if that isn’t enough, a run in with Wenda Brazenwood leaves her facing the other witch’s wrath.

Will Malinda survive her friend’s help, detention, and Wenda’s thirst for revenge?
 

“Cauldron Bubble” is in the Witches’ Brew bundle. You can learn more on BundleRabbit, Goodreads, and the bundle’s Facebook page.


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About the Author

Based in Toronto, Canada, Rebecca M. Senese writes horror, science fiction and mystery/crime, often all at once in the same story. Garnering an Honorable Mention in “The Year’s Best Science Fiction” and nominated for numerous Aurora Awards, her work has appeared in Fiction River, Tesseracts, Ride the Moon, TransVersions, Deadbolt Magazine, On Spec, The Vampire’s Crypt, Storyteller, Reflection’s Edge, Future Syndicate and Into the Darkness, among others.


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Interview: Grayson Towler on “The Dragon Waking”

Meet Grayson!

Grayson loves dragons and dinosaurs, and has managed to tie them together in a wonderful, magical story in The Dragon Waking, a middle grade fantasy.

The Dragon Waking

For thirteen-year-old Rose Gallagher, having a friend who is really a dragon and can perform magic, change shape, and fly her away from the predictability of small-town life feels like a dream come true. But secrets have a price, and the more Rose learns about her friend Jade and the world of dragons, the more dangerous her life becomes. Rose soon finds herself risking her life to help Jade recover a mysterious fragment of a meteorite called the Harbinger, which has the power to awaken countless dragons from their enchanted slumber. When Rose and Jade come face-to-face with a rival dragon in a battle over neon-drenched skies of Las Vegas, it will take all their courage to avert a catastrophe sixty-five million years in the making!

The dragon raised its head very slightly, watching her intently.

Rose still trembled at the sight of the dragon’s long talons and massive jaws, but she mustered her courage and edged closer. The dragon slowly extended its great head toward her as she approached, a posture that suggested both restraint and intense curiosity.

Rose’s sense of fear melted into wonder. Never had she seen anything lovelier than the tremendous green dragon before her. The elegant shape of its head and neck, the subtle shadings of green on each of its diamond-shaped scales, the delicate patterns on the translucent membrane of its folded wings – every feature of the dragon struck a perfect balance between beauty and power.

– from The Dragon Waking

The Interview

What inspired you to write The Dragon Waking?

It’s the sort of story I wanted to read. That’s usually my starting point… the reader in me wishes a certain kind of book would be waiting for me on the shelves, and then the writer in me decides that I’d better get working to make that happen.

More specifically, I’ve always loved stories of dragons, especially the ones in which dragons and humans are companions. Not that I don’t enjoy a good rampaging monster story with a dragon as the star, but I’m more moved by stories like Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series, or Naomi Novik’s Temeraire books – stories about the friendship between a humans and dragons.

I’ve often found myself spotting dragons in the environment, like clouds or rock formations shaped like dragons. I liked to dream about those formations waking up and becoming actual dragons. From those daydreams, the world of The Dragon Waking crystallized on a particularly productive evening of staring off into space.

Do you have more stories planned in this world?

I’m currently working on the second book in what I intend to be a trilogy. There’s a lot going on in this world, and I think there could be plenty of room for more short or long stories on top of the trilogy I have planned.

What did you find to be challenging with writing this story?

Well, it was my first book that I truly wanted to finish and get published, so there was a huge learning curve. The biggest challenges came from learning the conventions of the middle grade genre, and the first of these challenges was figuring out that the book was actually middle grade! I went in thinking it would be YA, and wrote it with that idea in mind. The resulting story turned out to be a better fit for middle grade, though.

Then the next big challenge was compressing the story down to middle grade length, which is a lot more restricted than YA. This was a crash-course in editing like I’d never experienced it, and I learned a lot.

The audience for The Dragon Waking is middle grade. Do you write stories for other ages?

I’ve got two novel-length manuscripts awaiting a second draft. One is a YA story to start a new series (really YA this time, I think). The second is an adult supernatural thriller. I’m quite excited about both of them, and I’m eager to get them into shape to pitch to publishers… if only pesky things like bills and my full time job didn’t keep getting in the way.

I do write short stories sometimes too, though I tend to focus on novels. I’ve got a sidestory from The Dragon Waking available on my website, and a couple other stories I’m going to try to get published this year if I can. I think my favorite of these is a story called “Crotar” about a 19th century British naval vessel encountering a very strange being in the south Pacific.

What’s important to you about Rose, and why did you give her these characteristics?

Rose has a lot of fine qualities, but I think the two most important ones are imagination and compassion. People tend to think of imagination as the ability to come up with things that don’t exist, which is part of it. But I also think a strong imagination is what allows us to see our world with greater clarity, and perceive truths that exist beyond accepted facts. It’s Rose’s capacity for imagination that allows her to see Jade and connect with her–most people couldn’t deal with the “impossible” appearance of a dragon in their world.

Compassion is just as important for Rose. Her compassion is why she can overcome her fear and connect with Jade, and sympathize with Jade’s mission to awaken the rest of the dragons. Rose is 13, which is a time when we’re still concentrated pretty much on figuring ourselves out, but that inward focus doesn’t mean we can’t expand our perspective and put ourselves in another’s shoes. I think Rose trained her compassion in working with horses, and learning to see the world through the eyes of an animal with a very different perspective than a human.

The Dragon Waking includes both dragons and dinosaurs. Why did you decide to include both? What’s the relationship between dragons and dinosaurs in the story’s world?

Is it not a kind of chocolate and peanut-butter combination? Seems so to me. In any case, I’ve always loved to toy with the idea of what would have happened if an intelligent, civilization-building race had evolved from the dinosaurs instead of mammals. At some point, it clicked that dragons would be a perfect candidate for that race.

In terms of the story, in the first book the main antagonist is a dragon who has disguised himself as a casino mogul named Rex Triumph, and has a dinosaur-themed resort in Las Vegas. When he gets back his full power, he naturally wants to bring back the old world he used to know. So he ends up animating a lot of dinosaurs, which in turn give our protagonists a lot of trouble.

In addition to writing, you also have a web comic. How did that start, and what do you enjoy about the comic that is different from what you enjoy about writing?

That’s Thunderstruck, and I started writing that as a conventional paper comic back in the mid-90s. At the time, I wanted to be an independent comic book artist-writer. Unfortunately, I chose to follow this aspiration right about the time the entire comic industry underwent a massive implosion, so the whole plan stopped being viable as comic stores folded left and right.

But the story stuck around, and when webcomics started to become a legit avenue for self-publishing, I revived Thunderstruck in that form. I wrote for many years, took a hiatus for a while to focus on my fiction career, and then came back and hopefully will be able to follow the whole complex story to the end.

The thing I like most about comics as opposed to straight prose is the ability to use artwork to express a story. Not only can a good picture be worth a thousand words, a visual medium like comics can sometimes express things prose never can. Yet comics still lets you keep many of the advantages of prose. It’s a unique medium and I enjoy exploring the various ways you can use it to tell stories…even though I feel like I’m a pretty limited artist, by comparison to many others out there.

What story (or stories) are you working on now, and what’s fun about what you’re writing?

Currently it’s the second book in the dragon series that’s getting all my attention, apart from my monthly engagement with writing the webcomic. There’s a lot of fun things about this book. There’s a change of setting, as part of it takes place in Hawaii. It’s also a story where Rose’s friend Clay gets to share the spotlight. He gets to come into his own this story and has to fend for himself when Rose and Jade are engaged elsewhere. We’re also going to get a new villain I’m really looking forward to introducing, and we’ll find out some of the mysteries we haven’t yet touched about dragons.

Grayson Towler has had a lifelong fascination with dragons, dinosaurs, magic, and the mysteries of the natural world. In addition to being a storyteller since he could first string words together, he has been a marketing copy writer, web designer, substitute teacher, comic artist, and small business owner. He and his wife, Candi, and their dog, Luna, live in a house owned by three relatively benevolent cats in Longmont, Colorado.

Find Grayson at:

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Story spotlight: “The Scottish Play” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Portia uses her magic to solve problems—theatrical problems. She prefers to work alone, even though her two sisters possess magic, too. But her latest job, in London’s West End, poses problems not only because of the play being performed—the cursed Scottish Play (aka Macbeth)—but because she must deal with a magic she has never seen before. A magic rooted in her past and threatening her future. A magic that will take the three sisters together to fight—or die trying.

Originally written for the Fiction River anthology Hex in the City, “The Scottish Play” adds a clever twist to the legend of Shakespeare and the three witches.

“The Scottish Play” is in the Fantasy in the City bundle. You can learn more on BundleRabbit, Goodreads, and the bundle’s Facebook page.


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About the Author

New York Times bestselling author Kristine Kathryn Rusch writes in almost every genre. Generally, she uses her real name (Rusch) for most of her writing. Under that name, she publishes bestselling science fiction and fantasy, award-winning mysteries, acclaimed mainstream fiction, controversial nonfiction, and the occasional romance. Her novels have made bestseller lists around the world and her short fiction has appeared in eighteen best of the year collections. She has won more than twenty-five awards for her fiction, including the Hugo, Le Prix Imaginales, the Asimov’s Readers Choice award, and the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine Readers Choice Award.


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Interview: DeAnna Knippling on being a writing contest judge

Meet DeAnna!

DeAnna Knippling is a freelance writer, editor, and book designer living in Colorado. She runs Wonderland Press, a micropublisher of curious fiction and non-fiction for iconoclasts.

The Interview

You’ve been a judge for multiple writing contests. Give us an example of one type of contest, and what the authors submitted.

The contest that I’ve judged most for is the Zebulon for Pikes Peak Writers, and before it was revamped, the Paul Gillette PPW contest. In general, you end up submitting a query letter, synopsis, and sample first chapter. Just like in submitting something to an agent, the first stage is having someone read the query letter and decide whether the entry deserves more attention.

Let me tell you…I loathe query letters with a passion. It could be the best book in the world, and I would hate the query letter. I feel like authors are getting bad information on how to write query letters and are taking that information the wrong way in order to create the Most Boring Sales Pitches Ever. I don’t have a good system to replace it–learning how to write good advertising material is hard, and I don’t have it mastered yet–but I seriously would just rather burn most query letters, even if I have to print them out myself.

I never volunteer for that part. I would either reject everything or accept everything, nothing in the middle.

I get the submissions in the middle part mostly, where the first pass of readthroughs/judging on the synopsis and sample are done. I’ll give a little bit of feedback on the query letter if I have to, but often I’ll just scan through the query letter to see if I can pick up hints on how experienced the writer is, so I can give better feedback.

I also feel that most writers couldn’t write a synopsis to save their lives, which is unfortunate–if writers spent as much time on a synopsis as they did on their outlines (or just tossed their outlines and wrote a synopsis?), then I feel they’d have a better grasp on the core story they were trying to write. A lot of times I see things like the story not actually having an antagonist, or the writer not really being sure who the story is about, things like that.

In the sample chapters, what you get is the opening of the story, about 2500 words. My biggest pet peeve is people who are writing a prologue and trying to hide it as “Chapter One.” Uh-huh. I don’t mind a good prologue, but I vehemently resent a writer trying to fool me on this. Like it’s not immediately obvious. Sheesh.

What’s it like being a judge?

I’ve been a contest judge for a number of years. I always feel like it’s a nailbiting experience, swinging between the poles of snark and honestly providing feedback? As in, writers have a tendency (I’m no exception) to have a mental running Snark-o-meter whenever they’re reading critically. And yet those comments aren’t helpful, and I usually have to go over my responses several times to make sure I’ve cut most of that out.

I’ve spoken to a number of contest participants, and it seems like the people who are sending in contest entries–especially in contests that don’t lead directly to being published in an anthology–are looking for feedback that they’re not getting from their usual sources. A lot of them are early writers who don’t have a writing community at home to help support them, but it seems like most of the entries that I see are from writers who have been writing for a while and are covering the basics, but not seeing a lot of success in publishing.

The kind of feedback that that second level of writer needs is often hard to get, and I always wonder if I’m saying the right thing, making the right guesses about where the writer is and what they need to move forward. It’s like, sure, on the surface level you’re just trying to answer the questions, but you also have to keep in mind that someone is on the other side of those answers, dying to find out what’s working on the manuscript and what isn’t. So I’m always torn between wearing a kind of editorial hat (snark) and a writer support hat (decent feedback). I try to score like an editor and give feedback like a writer supporter, so that I’m not artificially inflating entries that probably shouldn’t win the contest just to be nice, and yet giving the most supportive (yet honest) feedback I can give.

What are you looking for in submissions?

I’m not an editor, so I don’t approach submissions by going, “What can I publish?” That’s not what a non-publishing contest is for.

Instead I’m looking for what level of writer I’m working with, first and foremost, so I can give feedback. We all have different paths as writers, which complicates things, but in general you can check off things like, “This person is handling beginner’s basics like dialogue and character correctly but not intermediate level things like pacing and opening a scene well” to determine how far along someone is. I’ve also noted a split between two different types of writers–I call them engineer brain and poet brain. Engineers plot well; poets have better style. It’s not a matter of right or wrong, but where one’s strengths lie.

Once I can kind of guesstimate how far along a writer is and the general areas of their strengths, I can start thinking in terms of what feedback might be useful.

I generally don’t care who wins a contest 🙂

How is an entry scored? Do you use rubrics of some sort?

There’s generally a checklist of some sort with spaces for feedback. I helped develop a checklist for the Zebulon with Pikes Peak Writers, and that was interesting. What are the main areas of writing? How do you organize all the aspects of writing into a system that makes sense in a contest, to multiple judges who themselves use vastly different organizational/teaching tools in their own writing? I think we did okay, but I always wonder if it could be better.

What do you aim for when you’re asked to write feedback letters?

I always aim to try to give decent advice for the level of writer involved. A lot of times, just because of the type of submissions I see, I end up typing a variation of, “You probably want to know why you’re not published yet, if everyone says you’ve got the basics down pat. Welcome to intermediate writing, where there’s not a lot of advice to be had because 90% of writers have dropped out at this point and it seems like everyone expects you to make the jump from amateur to professional with no extra work. It’s so simple, for someone who’s worked as much as you have…isn’t it? Here’s where you need to start working, though…” And then I try to block out two or three main areas for the writer to start working. I feel like the winners of contests are going to be happy no matter what I write; it’s the people who didn’t win who need to be able to walk out of a contest with a path ahead, arduous but true.

Why do you judge writing contests?

I like being able to dive down into the meat of where someone is in their craft, and find out what strengths and weaknesses they have, and how that affects the work. I’m starting to see how different writers’ points of view really affect what they write, and I find that incredibly interesting. Also, I really hope to be able to pass the education in craft that other people have given me forward, and this is one of the ways that I seem to be able to help.

What story (or stories) are you working on now, and what’s fun about what you’re writing?

I’m working on a novel in a series I haven’t released yet. It’s the third novel in a near-future thriller series. Murder and tech that’s so close to being real that it’s scary; not quite Blade Runner but in the same spirit.

DeAnna Knippling is a freelance writer, editor, and book designer living in Colorado. She started out as a farm girl in the middle of South Dakota, went to school in Vermillion, SD, then gravitated through Iowa to Colorado, where she lives with her husband and daughter. Some of her fondest childhood memories are of putting together haunted houses in the basement of her grandparents’ house with her cousins, and taking flying leaps off haystacks and silage piles in the middle of winter with her brother. She was in charge of coming up with the “let’s pretend” ideas when they were kids, at least in theory. But then no plan survives contact with the enemy. She now writes science fiction, fantasy, horror, crime, and mystery for adults under her own name; adventurous and weird fiction for middle-grade (8-12 year old) kids under the pseudonym De Kenyon; and various thriller and suspense fiction for her ghostwriting clients under various and non-disclosable names.

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Social media management with Hootsuite

Hootsuite is a social media management tool that can be used to:

  • Track and monitor messages and notifications.
  • Manage, schedule, and publish content to multiple social media platforms.
  • View reports on key metrics and engagement.
  • Create customized dashboards.

There are several different pricing plans. They do not have a free plan, but do offer a 30-day free trial.

Note: I’m experimenting with social media content management tools to manage multiple Facebook pages, as well as several accounts on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc., so this was my focus in exploring this tool.

Supported social media platforms

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • YouTube
  • WordPress

They also offer over a hundred partner apps and integrations; some are free, and some are an additional cost on top of your plan.

Streams

Hootsuite uses streams to display content from your social media networks. The type of streams available vary depending on what social media channel you’re connecting to. For example, here are the options you see when adding a Twitter stream.

Each stream is specific to one social media channel, and one type of activity. For example, if you set up a stream to display the timeline of a Facebook page, that stream will only show your timeline, not your timeline and your messages.

Creating and scheduling posts

To schedule a post you go to the ‘Publisher’ section, create a new message, select one or more social media profiles, and specify when your message should be published.

You can publish it immediately, or schedule posts in advance. You can see your scheduled posts in a calendar view. You can select social media profiles that are on different channels, so for example you could publish the same content on both Twitter and Facebook.

Reporting

Analytics are available by channel, and then by profile – so you can see reports for all of your Facebook profiles in one view, but need to look at a different view for Twitter reports. The data includes information on posts, fans/followers, engagement, traffic, and inbound messages by sentiment.

There are additional reporting options, but you need to upgrade to a more expensive plan in order to use them.

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Story spotlight: “Among the Shadows” by Louisa Swann

When Cal is “sentenced” to spend her summer outside with a bunch of gawky kids and stinky cows, she’s certain there is no worse punishment. Life without her computer is no life at all. All her friends, at least the ones that matter, are online. There’s no one in the real world Cal wants to spend time with.

Until she meets Troy.

But he’s not in the real world either.

Or is he?
 
 
“Among the Shadows” is in the Haunted bundle. You can learn more on BundleRabbit, Goodreads, and the bundle’s Facebook page.
 


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About the Author

Growing up in the wilds of the Sierra Nevada mountains, surrounded by deer and beaver, muskrat and bear, Louisa Swann found ample fodder for her equally wild imagination. As an adult, she interweaves her experiences with that imagination, creating tales of fantasy and science fiction, mystery and thrillers, steampunk and historical fiction. Her short stories have appeared in Fiction River anthologies, including Reader’s Choice; Mercedes Lackey’s Elementary Magic and Valdemar anthologies; and Esther Friesner’s Chicks and Balances. Novels include light-hearted mysteries (It Ain’t No Bull, The Trouble with Bulldogs) and her new steampunk/weird west series, Abby Crumb and Myrtle Creek (with Brandon Swann).


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