Being a Pinteresting author.

It’s taken me a while to embrace Pinterest, but I’m finally using it, and using it as an author, which is something I didn’t think I’d be able to do.

But it appears to be working.

I have three boards up right now. The one I’m proudest of is a Beware the Hawk board. Posted on that board, in no particular order, are photos of some of the locations that inspired Beware the Hawk, captioned with scenes from the book. It makes for sort of grown-up picture book experience, actually. This is closest I will get, I’ve realized, to having my own Pottermore.

I’ve had a Pinterest account for a while. I do this with most new social networks. I sign up, get confused by them and then, about six months later, figure out how to use them. It happened with Twitter. It happened with Google +.* Then it happened with Pinterest.

The crux of my Pinterest problem was this: How does one use the site as an author? Writers work with words and Pinterest is a visual medium. Most of the people I know on Pinterest are pinning craft ideas, or fashion or food or those mini-inspirational posters that get posted as memes on Facebook.

I tried a couple of different things. I had one board devoted to a novel I’m working on – the board contained images that inspire me, but it gave away too much of the plot, and you can’t make pinboards private, so I deleted it. I had one devoted to local news, but that didn’t work well because I didn’t update it daily.

Then I read an interview with the incredible Jane Friedman, and she mentioned Pinterest in passing – essentially she said that authors need to have fun with new tools in order to see if those tools work for them – and I started thinking that maybe using photos of the places I was visiting when I wrote Beware the Hawk might make a good board.

But I can’t pin some things, like characters, because they’re made up. If anyone has drawn or wants to draw my characters (they can be doodled on the backs of napkins; I don’t care) I would love to pin illustrations of my characters to a board. **

I have two other writing-related boards. One is titled Authors I’d like to have a drink with.  It’s just that. Photos of authors, with a paragraph about the drink we would share. The other, I hope is more tantalizing. It’s called What about the sequel? No one’s making any promises here, kids, but say I was thinking of putting together a sequel, these images might be vaguely inspirational to me. They will be vague, but I’m hoping this might be a sort of game. Can you guess what I’m working on?

So that’s it, really. This is how I’m trying to use Pinterest as an author. I’ll let you know how it works. Or I’ll see you on the boards.

*If I’m honest, I’m still figuring out G+.

**I’m not offering payment here or claiming ownership of anyone’s art. All I’m offering is the warm fuzzy feeling of knowing that I’m promoting and praising your artwork on a Pinterest board.

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Scavenger hunt, day 10; An impressive tattoo.

We’re in the home stretch. Today is the tenth and final day of the scavenger hunt. Tomorrow, Beware the Hawk becomes available at Vagabondage Press and tomorrow I will announce the winners of the hunt!

But that is tomorrow. Today, I am looking for one more item from you scavengers – a photo of a tattoo. The protagonist in my book has a, shall we say, all-encompassing tattoo. You don’t have to take a photo of a full body tat, but take/find a photo of an impressive tattoo. You know the drill by now, folks: Tweet the photo with the hashtag #bewarethehawk or post it to my Facebook author page.

Now, let’s talk about pain. Yesterday – in honor of my protagonist’s cover-to-cover ankle injury – I asked you to tell me about a time when you had to live with an injury.

Mary-Jo Bates wrote this on my Facebook wall: “Being the fat kid, I made the best tug-of-war anchor. Unfortunately, being able to stand is a function of that post. Back in middle school, the class bully showed an odd moment of insight, whipping the giant jute rope around, catching my ankle, and twisting it something fierce. Still bitter my team lost on that field day.”

What a jerk that kid was. I hope s/he got a detention or a time-out. Or at least a dressing-down from the teacher.

Alena Dillon tweeted this: “I burned myself on the oven last weekend. That’s what I get for cooking. On the bright side, the scar is pretty badass.”

That must have been one hell of an oven burn to leave a badass scar. Hope it’s healing.

Lastly, Tamela Ritter made my day by walking by – and photographing – the Chinatown gate in D.C., which I’ve never seen before. Feast your eyes. It puts Boston’s gate to shame:

Scavenger Hunt, Day 9: Bring the pain.

For day nine of the scavenger hunt, I’m not actually going to ask you to hunt for anything, but I am going to ask you to share a memory. Of pain.

My protagonist in Beware the Hawk has an ankle injury for pretty much the whole book. Tell me about a time you had to live with an injury. Points if you have a photo of yourself from that time.

I realize that these stories might run the gamut from slapstick hilarity to grave injury. Share as much as you are comfortable sharing. Tweet it to me (@ann_oconnell) with the hashtag #bewarethehawk. Or post it to my author page on Facebook.

Scavenger Hunt, Day 8: Shamrocks!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! We’ve been scavenger hunting for a week now! A few more days and the hunt will be over.

Today’s challenge is easy. Take a picture of a shamrock, but it has to be a purple shamrock. I don’t care how you get it to be purple, but it needs to be purple.

Why? Because in Beware the Hawk there’s a scene in which my protagonist meets a cute Irish guy in a bar called The Purple Shamrock. It’s too perfect. You’d think I’d planned this scavenger hunt for this week when I was writing the book a decade ago.

Tweet your shamrocks to me (@ann_oconnell) with the hashtag #bewarethehawk. Or post it to my author page on Facebook. If you have an iPhone, you may also use Instagram and post your photo with the #bewarethehawk hashtag.

Moving on, I should have known better than to send you folks to Craigslist yesterday to search for questionable ads, because the submissions I received are definitely NSFW.*

Luckily it’s Saturday, so go ahead and feast your eyes on the entry submitted by Mary-Jo Bates. The poster of this ad wants to tell you how to get to Skankville. That’s all I’ve  got right now. Alena Dillon’s submission was so spicy that it got pulled off the Internet by Craig and his Craigslist elves before I was able to post it.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day. I look forward to lots of purple shamrocks.

*That’s “Not Safe For Work,” folks.

Scavenger Hunt, Day 7: The List of Craig

It’s day seven of the scavenger hunt and I want you to scour the Internet for today’s mission.

The protagonist in Beware the Hawk is a courier for a secret anti-government group called The Resistance. She found this job by responding to an intriguing ad on Craigslist. So today I’d like you to find an intriguing ad on Craigslist. It doesn’t have to be for a secret agency. It can be anything you find interesting or mysterious or  nefarious or just plain awesome.

Then tweet the link to me (@ann_oconnell) with the hashtag #bewarethehawk. Or post it to my author page on Facebook.

Speaking of which, let’s look at the results of yesterday’s mission, which was to write a haiku about a bird of prey. I’m excited to report that I had several submissions, and all of them are very different. Here they are, in order of receipt:

Mary-Jo Bates, who offers a different take on what a bird of prey is:

Robin feet in dirt
Worm hold lost
Flesh into flesh.

Esteemed poet Heidi St. Jean, sticking with the “hawk” theme:

Hawk stands tall on pine,
never wavering in wind –
breathes in warm mouse scent.

Alena Dillon, bemoaning the loss of her snack to a Long Island bird of prey:

It stole my pizza
and dropped it in the ocean
I so hate seagulls

Erin Skelly Cameron, with a requiem for a mouse:

Field mouse frolicking,
Beware the hawk swooping down!
Oh, no – no more mouse.

I was sort of sad that no one wrote a haiku about this kind of bird of prey, but that's just me.

Scavenger Hunt, Day Six: The haiku challenge.

Before I share today’s challenge, a bit of news: I heard from my editor yesterday afternoon, and she tells me that I’ll be getting the proof for the physical copy of Beware the Hawk very soon!

I’m curious to see what that will look like, since Beware the Hawk is less than 50 pages long. I’ve been reading several of literature’s greatest short books lately (The House on Mango Street, The Stranger, Heart of Darkness, Turn of the Screw) and all of them are pretty slim volumes, but Beware the Hawk is shorter than all of them. That’s going to be one narrow book spine.

Because of all that shortness, today’s challenge will celebrate brevity with the shortest form of all: the haiku.

Write me a haiku about a bird of prey.

You know what a haiku is, right? Of course you do. Three lines of poetry. Line one has five syllables, line two has seven syllables and line three has five syllables. I realize this isn’t really a hunt. In fact I was planning to have you search for a haiku about a bird of prey, but writing haiku is more fun. (Although if you’d rather search for one, be my guest, just credit the poet when you submit.)

Tweet the poem to me (@ann_oconnell) with the hashtag #bewarethehawk. Or post it to my author page on Facebook.

Speaking of which, I have some neat iPhone apps to share from yesterday’s challenge.

UPDATE: Erin Skelly Cameron submitted Instagram, which is a personal favorite of mine. It’s like Twitter, but with photos. Unfortunately, it’s only available for iPhone users now, and Erin owns a Droid.

Alena Dillon of The Time is Write submitted this neat app, Star Walk. It’s a sort of augmented stargazing app. You point your phone the sky and the constellations appear. You point it at an unidentified object and it tells you what you’re looking at. That’s right – UFOs are a thing of the past. Your iPhone will ID every object in the sky. I think I might want it.

Ally Arendt of WordVagabond submitted a link to an app for writers, FIG. FIG stands for Fiction Idea Generator, and it’s a plot generator that lives in your phone. It suggests plots, genre, period, narrative voice and appears to have several other generators included including an emotion generator. That’s pretty neat, too.

Normally I just sponge off the free iPhone apps and tolerate all the advertising that comes with them, but maybe I should shell out the five bucks for these two apps. Any other suggestions, folks?

Scavenger Hunt, Day 5: There’s an app for that

The iPhone plays a big role in Beware the Hawk. I know, I know. I’m perpetuating the Apple iCulture in which we all live.

I’m going to defend the inclusion of the iPhone in my plot by saying two things: a) Apple didn’t pay me to make their phone into a tool of fictional dissidents, and b) art imitates life. That is, art would imitate life if you could never turn your iPhone off and your employers used its GPS to keep tabs on you, which they don’t.

Or do they?

For day five of the hunt, tell me about the coolest iPhone app you’ve ever heard of and if you have it, share the link.

Then tweet the information to me (@ann_oconnell) with the hashtag #bewarethehawk. Or post it to my author page on Facebook.