Monday, March 31, 2014

Twitter Etiquette

Cassin's Sparrow
By Laurie Epps

Twitter has a lot more rules compared to other social media outlets, especially in regards to composition. All users have an 140 character limit per Tweet on Twitter. If you plan to re-tweet, you've got to keep it under 120 characters.

Not only is Twitter restrictive on how many characters you can use, there's lots of subtleties that make people mad. As a conscientious blogger, I just know you don't want your Tweets to undermine all the hard work you're doing on your blog.

In Edie Melson's book, Connections: Social Media and Networking Techniques for Writers she gets down to the nuts and bolts of the fundamental unwritten rules of Tweeting.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Making Every Tweet Count

Western Bluebird
By Laurie Epps

Twitter has become more and more popular. This is both good and bad. Here to guide us through the gauntlet is my mentor in her book, 
Connections: Social Media and Networking Techniques for Writers

The popularity of Twitter is:

  • good, because it's easier than ever to connect with other people.
  • bad, because it keeps getting increasingly harder to stand out.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

A Tourist in Your Own Town

Me and My Middle Daughter, Ellen
By Laurie Epps

We all have that moment in middle age where we realize that our kids are growing up, that our time with them is limited. This is the case for me and my 17 year old daughter, Ellen. I'm proud of my daughter, but I know my time with her has changed drastically, and will continue to do so. I've got anywhere from one to four years of her clanking around the house in her gym T-shirts and pajama bottoms.

Naturally, being a college senior, my Spring Break doesn't line up with my kids. Mine was the second week of March, Ellen's the third, and my youngest's is the week before Easter in April. Since my middle daughter needed her haircut, I seized the opportunity to turn it into a mother & daughter day date. It also gave us a chance to get out into the beautiful sunshine after a pretty dreary winter for us. I know, it's nothing compared to other parts of the country, but for around here, it was pretty bad.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Happy Spring Ya'll

Intro By Laurie Epps

The first day of spring brings to us many promises of hope and rebirth. My poem selection for today is from Oscar Wilde. I wrote a paper on Oscar Wilde in my Victorian Literature class, and he's definitely one of my favorites of this era.

Oscar Wilde was born in Dublin in 1854. He lived to be 46 years of age, and I celebrated my 46th birthday yesterday. His mother, Lady Jane Francesca Wilde was also a poetess, and wrote under the male pen name Sperenza before Oscar was born. His father, Sir William Wilde was a specialist of the ear and eye. His mom was active in the women's rights movement, and is said to have ignored his dad's affairs. The affairs increased after he was promoted to be the Oculist in Ordinary to the Queen.
Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

Monday, March 17, 2014

Using Twitter in the Marketing Triad

Cerulean Warbler
By Laurie Epps

Happy St. Patricks Day everyone!

Last week, we started talking about Twitter, but how does it fit into the Marketing Triad of Facebook, Twitter, and your blog? Here to guide our way is my mentor, Edie Melson.

We're still working from Edie's book, Connections: Social Media and Networking Techniques for Writers. In this book, Edie teaches us set-by-step how to reach our captive audience through the Internet.

We're starting today with a Superbowl analogy. We all love the ads during the Superbowl, but what can advertisers do to encourage us to take the next step? That's what we're talking about today, our readers being prompted to take the next step with us.
Black-throated Blue Warbler

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Serendipity with Artist Toni Scott

By Laurie Epps

I usually don't include a story so personal, but I feel this story should be told even though it's still unfolding. This fall, I was taking an Advanced Poetry class in college, but I really wanted to write in response to art. Living in a college town gives some limitations, so my first line of defense in such an endeavor was to peruse my campus' various galleries.

Outside the Vandiver Gallery was my art history teacher from the previous semester. She greeted me in the same warm way that she always does, and asked me if I wanted to look around. Of course I did! Although my time was extremely limited since they weren't officially open yet, I snapped a photo of the painting that spoke to me. It also gave me a chance to meet the visionary artist herself.

That night, I went home and took pen to paper, noting the decoupaged messages off the sides of the canvas. I was nervous because I was partially afraid to not do the painting I saw earlier in the evening justice. From those quiet moments at my kitchen table, and wads of crumpled up papers that weren't quite right in my wake, the poem Hauntings was born. I actually worked on it a number of times, and usually at night.

Artist Toni Scott
I found Toni Scott's artwork to be powerful, profound, and moving. I physically cried just from looking at some of her paintings. But somehow, Toni Scott and I weren't done. I would talk to this woman again.

After the Christmas Break, I decided to write a month's worth of Eukrastic poems, and Hauntings was among them. I didn't want to violate copyright infringement, so I contacted my art teacher and requested permission to publish my iPhone's image of her painting along with my poem. After a lot of tears, and carefully worded emails, my professor grew tired of being a go between. That was when I first began talking with the artist directly. My poem Hauntings appeared on my Thoughtful Thursday column on January 23, 2014.

By the time my blog about Toni Scott appeared, I'd begun a new set of classes. Among them is my favorite class, Women Writers. At the beginning of the semester, we had to sign up to lead the discussion over one of the books we talked about in class. My selection was on Incidents of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs. I was surprised when I couldn't put down a slave narrative. I had to know the fate of Linda, and her children Benny & Ellen. I believe it was one of the best discussions I'd led in my entire academic career.

A few days later on Facebook, I saw the image at the top of the screen, and learned the painting was based on the same book I'd just read for class. What? My mind was swimming. How could that be? I didn't mean to do that, but it was meant to be. Then I learned that my college bought that very painting. If all that isn't weird enough, Toni contacted me for permission to share my poem. Of course, YES. So, then I started looking at her fan page on Facebook, and learned we're both from Los Angeles. Not only are we fellow artists, but we're both strong, independent Angelino's.

Once all these strong coincidence's started swirling in my head, I felt the hand of God on me in that moment. There's a reason why Toni and I found each other, though I can't quite pinpoint it yet. I went on to send Toni my handouts from my presentation, and I can't wait to press on and uncover what we're meant to do together. I love you Toni Scott, you inspire me.

Back to my poem, now that all of this came together, I'd have to find out how accurate my poem was to the actual narrative. Surprisingly, it was dead on. I think that's why a lot of us write. We write to leave a legacy. Just as Linda fought the entire narrative to free her children from slavery, her words speak through women like Toni & I, and women everywhere who will continue to fight for our equality and our voice amongst a male dominant social landscape.

To learn more about the artwork of Toni Scott, click here.

Laurie Epps is a non-fiction author, essayist, editor, and poet living in Anderson, South Carolina. A seeker of beauty, her is dream is to travel the world one day and tell the many stories of those she meets. Columns include: Monday Morning Book Club, and Thoughtful Thursdays, a column dedicated to the fine art of poetry.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Irish Love Poetry

Margaret Widdemer (1884-1978)
Intro by Laurie Epps
Today's poet is American born, but she really hits my theme for March and is a good introduction to "Irish" poetry. Born in Pennsylvania, and raised in New Jersey, Widdemer is most known for her novels, and lived out her adult life largely in New York City.
Margaret Widdemer (1884-1978) is a U.S. born poet who wrote volumes of poetry throughout her life, but focused on social issues of her day. Margaret won many prizes for her poetry including the Lyric Prize, the Trimmed Lamp Prize, and the Literary Review Prize for Satire. Widdemer served as the Vice President of the Poetry Society of America. Her highest honor is winning the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1919.

Monday, March 10, 2014

How Twitter Can Be Your New Social Media BFF

Puffy Blue Bird
By Laurie Epps

Social media can be intimidating enough for those of us who didn't grow up with computers, and it was a leap for us to want to be on Facebook. Now that we're acquainted with Facebook, we're going to get familiar with it's younger sibling, Twitter.

Here to guide us through the ropes is social media expert, Edie Melson, with her fabulous book, Connections: Social Media and Networking Techniques for Writers

What trips a lot of us up is the 140 character max for a "Tweet." But if you can learn creative ways of working within this requirement, Twitter packs a social media punch that has attracted more attention to my blog than any other medium. When combined with Facebook, the power duo will reach 95% of your viewers. Now that's something to sing about!
Blue Bird in a Flowering Tree

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Isle of Innisfree

By Laurie Epps

For the next few months, I'd like to try something a bit different for this column. While this will remain a column that is directly dedicated to the fine art of poetry, we're going to begin to talk about the masters of poetry. Who are they? What made their poetry so lasting? These questions and more will be covered by this column.

In light of St. Patricks Day occurring in March, we'll begin with some very classic, and timeless Irish poets. Feel free to nominate a poet in the comments section below, if there is a poet that you'd like to see specifically, for Thoughtful Thursdays own version of Dead Poets Society.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Creating Dialogue on the Internet

By Laurie Epps

A lot of people complain that a professional page is just a promotional page. That the only purpose it serves is bold, unfiltered marketing. Well, it can be, but it's not a requirement.

Edie Melson walks us through the nuts & bolts on creating those vital relationships online, without shoving it in your readers face. To follow along, consult your copy of Connections: Social Media and Networking Techniques for Writers.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Scout Sunday

Scout Sunday, February 23, 2014

Every two weeks, kids from all over the upstate descend upon the little Presbyterian church on Whitner Street in Anderson. On behalf of Troop #724, I'd like to thank the First Presbyterian Church of Anderson, SC for use of their facilities for our children. As a former Girl Scout myself, I know they are making a sacrifice for the betterment of today's youth. They are the future generation, and learning skills that will not only help prepare them for the future, but also train these children to be better citizens in society.

Also, it's Girl Scout cookie time again. If you live in the Anderson, SC area, you can visit our booths at Bi-Lo across from the Anderson Mall on Saturday, or in front of WalMart off Liberty on Sunday to purchase cookies. If you don't live here locally, you can simply go to the Girl Scout website to find Girl Scout cookie vendors near you.

The Swan House in Atlanta

By Laurie Bower Epps Many don't know that I'm really from Atlanta. Somehow, as I've gotten older, it just seems to be natura...