Twitter Analytics and Gender

 

Like many new (or soon-to-be-new) authors dipping their toes into social media, I’ve been trying to get a handle on not only how to better manage the wild chaotic beast that is Twitter, but also how to understand it. Eva Gantz is the go-to expert on social media for authors, and following her advice I checked out Twitter Analytics, which I discovered has this cool little feature for breaking down the demographics of your followers.

Neat! So now I know that 55% of my followers are in the US (no surprise there, because I’m in the US, I suppose), 17% in the UK, etc. I know that 88% are interested in “Romance (books and literature),” which makes sense, because I’m trying to be a romance author — that’s probably the most useful statistic, actually.

 

And I know that 51% are male and 49% female.

Huh? How does Twitter know that? I wracked my brain trying to remember if Twitter ever asked me my gender when I signed up, and no, it didn’t. I checked my profile, and nowhere is there anything that says “female” (or any other gender!). So, if Twitter doesn’t know my gender, how can it know the gender of my followers?

The answer is, apparently, big data and social algorithms. It is all in your word choice, word frequency, word proximity, etc, apparently. Twitter (and Facebook too, for that matter) has been hiring some of the world’s foremost social statisticians and researchers, because they want to know this sort of thing about us (without asking, apparently).

I guess it’s a little creepy and a little fascinating at the same time.

Glenn Fleishman wrote a very interesting article for BoingBoing about it a couple months ago, which I came across in my search for the answer. It seems he had the same head-scratching moment I did when he looked at that graph. Oddly, it appears for most people their followers skew far more to the male side, regardless of their own gender or what they tweet, whereas mine are nearly evenly matched. I don’t know that that’s good or bad or indifferent — I’m very happy if men find what I have to write as interesting as women do, and in fact I do have some men who regularly read my blog, and I love them for it (you know who you are, and you’re all wonderful)!

Have you looked at your own Twitter Analytics results recently? What is your thinking about computers determining your gender based on how you write?

There’s a lot more to the analytics that I haven’t even begun to understand yet. There’s a lot to Twitter I don’t understand yet.

7 Essentials Every Author Needs to Know About Twitter

I’m still pretty much a neophyte when it comes to Twitter, but already I’ve been able to recognize many of the behaviors that Kristen Lamb writes about in her fantastic book ‘Rise of the Machines’ (http://www.amazon.com/Rise-Machines-Human-Authors-Digital-ebook/dp/B00DP7II4A) (haven’t finished yet, but already can highly recommend), and which her guest Marcy Kennedy writes about here, in this post. I hope I haven’t been too guilty of them myself! Whether it’s constant spamming of the same post, or constant mindless retweeting, or spamming Facebook with dozens of Twitter retweets… Anyway, there’s a lot of it going on, and it definitely turns me off, so I’m sure it does others, too. Read on, for Marcy’s words of wisdom on the subject.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Hmmm, looks like a ticket to TWITTER JAIL Hmmm, looks like a ticket to TWITTER JAIL

I’m still delusional that I might finish NaNoWriMo. I can write 16,000 more words in five days, right? Sigh. I’ve been away from the blog because I’m in the trenches with the fellow Nanos. Also I really needed to take a bit of a break. To help me with my pseudo-sabbatical? The AMAZING Social Media Maven Marcy Kennedy is here to help you learn how to use Twitter effectively. 

Using Twitter effectively is important. Twitter is a tool, but we can look like a tool or act like a tool if we rush in not knowing what we are DOING.

Great news is I have done all the dumb stuff so you don’t have to. Marcy might have, but I can’t speak for her (and she is kind of a Hermione) so she probably was smart enough to learn from MY dumb stuff…..

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FF: Wrong Side of the Tracks

Rachel is the Mistress of erotic and sensual flash fiction, coming up with well-drawn and fascinating characters and imbuing them with life while putting them in some steamy situations. Here she plays a little mind game with us… or are her characters playing mind games with each other? Either way, take a little trip over to the wrong side of the tracks with Rachel Woe…

Rachel Woe

The idea for this flash fiction piece spawned from a photo I discovered on Pinterest, originally featured on Vogue Italia. I can’t reblog it for copyright reasons, but you can view it here (SFW).

I decided to try for something a bit more sensual this time, perhaps even subtle. As always, feedback is encouraged and greatly appreciated.

Enjoy ♥


He adjusts his tie, tightening and then smoothing it into the collar of his brown corduroy blazer. Delivery trucks and early commuters rumble overhead just as the sun’s first rays illuminate the iridescent swirls of grease along the river’s edge. He scratches at the coating of scruff upon his jaw, wondering if he should’ve shaved for the occasion. Jagged stones threaten to punch holes into the soles of his scuffed loafers. He checks his watch.

She’s late.

The sun reaches higher, reflecting off the train tracks that run beneath…

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You’re The One For Me

 

Sybil traced her finger slowly down Jack’s chest, luxuriating in the soft feel of the hair that grew there, in stark contrast to the lack of any on top of his head. His warm, solid presence comforted her, and for a moment she just soaked in it, breathed it in, letting her cares slip away.

Only for a moment, however. That old demon returned, as it always did, to nag at her. Was he really happy with her? Did his attention perhaps roam at times, caught up in someone more elegant, more beautiful, more slender, more… just more? Could she really still be enough for him, or would he seek someone who could do so much more for him than she ever could? She told herself this was silly, Jack had never once given any hint of anything like that, it was just her persistent insecurities talking to her. Still, she worried.

“Hey. I’m right here. Come back to me, sweetheart. What’s going on?”

Jack’s voice brought her back to the present, and his touch soothed her as he slid his hand along her side to her hip. His palm was calloused, the palm of a man who had worked hard with his hands, though his skin was not so rough as it had been. His firm grip on her hip reassured her, and Sybil looked up into his eyes, hovering only inches above her face. She saw only love there, and remembered why she was with this man. She ran her own hands down his body, tracing the contours of his back with her fingertips, before answering.

“I’m sorry, darling. Just… nothing. It’s nothing.”

His eyes questioned her, he knew it wasn’t just nothing, so to forestall any more questions Sybil leaned up and kissed his lips, still soft yet with their own touch of roughness to them. She brought her hands to his waist, gripped him there, and wrapped her legs around his.

It worked. Jack gave a soft moan against Sybil’s mouth and moved against her body. His hips rotated back and forth, and now Sybil gasped, sweetly filled and fulfilled, his heat warming her inside and out. This man, this beautiful man, making languorous and luxurious love to her, how could she ever doubt him?

She didn’t doubt him. It was herself she doubted. Oh, not her love for Jack. She loved him as passionately as ever, but how could he still desire her? So many other women were so much thinner, so much more graceful, had so much more energy.

Jack moved atop her, sliding his entire body first one way then the other, causing delightful little frissons of friction within her. Sybil brought her attention back to him, back to them, and she moved herself beneath him, squeezing him, pulling him in tightly.

“There you are,” he whispered against her ear, before gently biting her lobe. “I lost you for a moment, but I still know how to bring you back, don’t I?”

He did desire her. His body could not lie. After all this time, his passion for her remained unflagging. A tear formed in Sybil’s eye.

“Oh, Jack.” Her voice hitched, caught in an upwelling of emotion.

He stopped moving, pulled back just a bit to look in her eye.

“Darling, I know I’m not as young, not as strong as I used to be. I know you could have your pick of men, now as well as then, but you chose me, and I chose you. Nothing has ever made me more proud and more happy. Are you still happy with me?”

Sybil’s voice hitched again, this time in a choked off laugh rather than a cry.

“Oh, Jack,” she said again. “If you only knew the depth of my… well, you do know. You always have known. But it is you who could have your pick.” She turned her head, ran a hand through her grey hair against the pillow.

Jack cupped her face in his strong hand, brought her back to face him. “How long have we been married?”

She didn’t even have to think about it. “Forty-two years.”

“And do you remember what I said to you, forty-two years ago, that day we ran off, ignoring everything everyone told us, when we eloped off to Vegas? Do you remember?”

“I do.”

Jack laughed. “Yes, I said that, too, but before that.”

Sybil laughed with him, feeling much better already. “Yes, Jack, I remember.”

“It’s as true today as it was then, as it has been every day and every year since. What did I tell you?”

“You said, you’re the one for me.”

“That’s right, babe. I’ve gone bald, and you’ve gone grey, but around you I still feel like a twenty-two-year-old kid.” He grinned at her, randy and lascivious, and she loved it. She grinned back.

“You’re the one for me.”

Distractions and a Quick Snippet

 

I’ve been working on Partners and Crime lately, trying to expand it to a longer, single piece of, oh, perhaps 8000 words or so when done (for comparison, the three parts already posted here came to a total of about 3300 words combined). I have actually found it a little bit slow going, partly because I’m still figuring out where this story is supposed to end up (remember, it started as flash fiction and was never supposed to be more than a thousand words or so), and partly because I originally intended it for posting only to the blog, which I generally keep at no more than, um, somewhere between PG-13 and R rated, perhaps, and yes, it has now definitely crossed that border firmly into R territory, maybe even a little NC-17 in there.

Which is odd, because it’s not as if I haven’t written some very explicit scenes in other stories before (Switch). Why is this one different? Perhaps it’s because I’m actually thinking about how this one could appear as a short novelette on Amazon? Because I’m already thinking about potential beta readers and their reactions? Because when I first started writing Switch (which, so far, is much more explicit) a year ago, I didn’t ever expect to show it to anyone?

Or perhaps I’m just massively overthinking it.

Or spending too much time on social media. Yeah, there’s always that. Having trouble wordsmithing the next sentence? No problem! After all, someone just favorited my latest rambling tweet, and I need to go check that out. Oh, and look, someone just posted a very interesting article on — wait for it — social media strategy for authors; I’d definitely better read that. And hey, some of my favorite authors just got published in a new anthology; mmm, reading that sounds like much greater fun.

(On a side note, Chemical [se]X, edited by Oleander Plume, really is great fun to read.)

The blog could use an overhaul, too — really, I should put my excerpts together on an actual page — and gosh, I haven’t posted anything in a long time, and… well, I’m taking care of that problem right now, aren’t I? And distracting myself from finishing up a measly few thousand more words in Partners and Crime.

Ok, though, seriously, where do you think the story should go? When last we left them, Eileen McConnell and Daryl Travers had to dash into a shower stall in the women’s locker room at the police department where they both work because two other officers had just come in to the room. Oh, and Travers had been wearing Eileen’s handcuffs for most of the action up to this point, though she has just taken them off him (though that story point could change — what do you think?). Now, if you aren’t exactly clear on how these two ended up in this predicament, this would be an excellent time to go back and read the three installments I posted to the blog.

On another side note, Jade, I really did not have you in mind when I named one of the two officers entering the room Waters — the name just appeared from thin air as I wrote — but, hey, what would you do if you were in your namesake’s position? And yes, I know you aren’t nearly as crude and crass as the Waters in the story. You’re far too nice, and she’s… well, she’s not. At least, not yet.

Finally, I’ll leave you with a very brief snippet from the continuing story:

He tugged, and with a wiggle of my hips my panties slipped down my thighs. I tried to kick them away, but only succeeded in tangling them about my ankles. If Travers noticed, he gave no sign, and very quickly I forgot all about them too when…

When what? Ah, I’ll leave that to your imagination… for now.

Go Far

Ama Dablam and Kangtega in the Solukhumbu range of the Himalaya

Ama Dablam and Kangtega in the Solukhumbu range of the Himalaya

A thousand miles and more
Beyond the Bosphorus and the Levant,
Far along the Karakoram Way,
Past the ancient city of Tashkent.

Dusty Kathmandu beckons,
With Thamel’s every trackless street,
Spin the wheels at Boudhanath,
And the temple monkeys to greet.

Looming distant beyond the valley,
Rising above the smoke and haze,
Gleaming, jagged, white with summer snow,
The Solukhumbu commands your gaze.

From Lukla’s first tilted landing,
And the winding paths of Namche Bazar,
Along narrow depths of the Dudh Kosi valley,
Steep trails promise to take you far.

The welcoming arms of Ama Dablam
Smiling over the milk river below,
Guarding over the school in Khumjung,
Tengboche’s chanting, yet still far to go.

The Pheriche valley is a welcome path,
Stone homesteads and herds of yak;
A sombre memorial at Thokla Pass
For those who didn’t make it back.

Wild horses roam Lobuche;
Gorak Shep, last chance for tea;
The Khumbu Glacier is now the road,
High Himal everywhere to see.

Nuptse looms, Pumori beckons,
Kala Patthar provides the view,
Yet still you press on farther,
Unsure of what you came to do.

The Khumbu continues upward
Beyond the grim and frozen fall,
Inexorable, rising, air ever thinning
Beneath high Lhotse’s mighty wall.

Steeply ascending, jumars on the rope,
South Col will be your final rest,
A camp too high for long to stay,
So press on to the final test.

Lamplight climbing, past Hillary Step,
Sunrise on the last ridge line,
Gleaming on all the peaks below,
You stand now there in bright sunshine.

Sagarmatha holds you in her arms,
Upon her grace you now depend;
The Roof of the World, Peak Fifteen,
Look quick, it’s time to descend.

The world all lies below you,
Nothing now stands as high;
Yet you cannot stay, it’s not your realm,
If you linger you will die.

A fast descent, a steady walk,
Back down the valleys below,
The villages and teahouses greet you,
Another traveler, with their welcome glow.

Of the high places of the world,
Stories you now have to tell,
Yet what you will remember best
Are the people who helped you well.

Tsering, Pemba, Pasang, Phurba,
Without them you would surely fall,
Lhakpa, Dawa, Mingma, Dorje,
There beside you, and sturdy all.

In your armchair by the fire,
You still see their faces clear,
The Sherpa of the Solukhumbu,
To your heart remain forever near.

Safewords and Spankings

[Yet another excerpt from my work-in-progress novel, Switch. If you haven’t read the previous excerpts, you can find them at https://lacewinter.com/category/novels/switch/. In this scene, Nicholas has just delivered Olivia’s first-ever erotic spanking, and while it thoroughly aroused her (and hurt like hell), it left her confused about her feelings with regard to submission. This gives her an idea, but things never seem to work out quite the way Olivia plans.]

 

“Maybe you should have a safeword,” I said.

“Oh, really? And why is that?”

“Because just maybe I might want to tie you down instead, and spank your bottom. After all, I think you’ve been a very naughty Dom.”

Nicholas laughed. “Naughty? How have I been naughty?”

“Well, to use your own metaphor, you may steer the car and hit the accelerator, but only I have the brake pedal. Well, I’m not the one who put the brakes on just now; that was you. I was ready to press on, but you are the one who slowed things down. So, it seems to me that your foot strayed over the line onto my pedal, and therefore you were out of bounds and deserve a spanking.”

He truly looked amused. I don’t think he took me seriously. Of course, I’m not sure that I was being serious, I was just riffing on his own line, but now that we’d gone there, why not? I tapped his chest with my forefinger.

“So, big boy, what’s it going to be? Will you bend over that bench like a good boy and take the punishment you deserve, or do I need to restrain you?”

“And if I decide not to cooperate, little girl, just how are you going to bend me to your will?”

I took his hand and pulled it between my legs, placing his palm against the heat emanating again through my panties.

“You want this, don’t you?”

A fire gleamed in his eyes, and he didn’t pull his hand away.

“Well, if you harbor any hopes of getting that reward, and make no mistake, it will be a reward, then you had best be a good boy and do as you’re told.”

I couldn’t quite believe my audacity. Did I actually just do that? I sat there, holding his palm against my sex, staring him down, daring him. My heart was beating a hundred times a minute with nervousness and excitement, and I felt something hot pooling down low in my belly. I might have been blushing and sweating a little, because I was pretty sure he could feel the dampness that I just knew had to be soaking through my panties. I didn’t back down, however.

The amusement and fire in his eyes gave way to uncertainty, and then curiosity. He didn’t answer right away, he just sat there, looking me in the eye. He didn’t move his fingers, he just kept his palm still against me, and the heat between us grew nearly unbearable. If he didn’t break soon, then I would.

He broke.

He took a deep breath before speaking, opened his mouth, paused, closed it again, then finally spoke.

“You make a highly convincing argument, little sub, but I am only going along with this because it pleases me to do so, and because it pleases me to please you.”

He stood up, holding me so I didn’t dump onto the floor, then releasing me. I stared up at him with a confidence in my gaze that I didn’t yet feel in my heart.

“What’s your safeword?” I asked him.

“Oh, I don’t think I’m going to need a safeword, do you?”

“You just delivered a fine-sounding lecture about how a submissive retains the ultimate power, but only because he has a safeword. You’re the submissive now, and I’m your Domme, even if only for a few minutes. Do you really wish me to have that much absolute power over you? Because if so, I’m fine with that, but don’t come crying to me when you can’t handle what I dish out.”

His eyes danced with amusement. Of course he thought he was just humoring me.

“Very well. My safeword is obstinate, as in you’re an obstinate little sub who seems to like getting her own way.”

I smiled and followed him back over to the bench where, minutes earlier, he had me tied down and wondering what on earth had gotten into me. He kneeled and bent over the horse, looking just a little uncertain about it once he was in that position. Admittedly, being a big guy, he looked a little funny like that, but I thoroughly enjoyed the sight. I patted his ass affectionately, noticing how firm it felt through his blue jeans.

“Hmm, I think these are going to need to come off. After all, fair is only fair.”

His head whipped around, looking over his shoulder at me. “Oh no, I don’t think so. Don’t you think this is enough?”

“You have a safeword if you don’t like it. Otherwise, boy, I’m calling the shots.”

He scowled, thinking about it, then after a moment reaching to unbuckle his belt.

“Ah-ah. Keep your hands on the bench in front of you, unless you want me to tie them. I’ll take care of that.”

He pulled his hand away, leaning fully over the bench. I stood close behind him, leaning over him so I could get my arms around his hips, and took the belt buckle in my hands. As I undid it, and unbuttoned the fly of his 501s, I was hyper-aware of the closeness of his incredibly sexy ass to my hips. I think I even unconsciously pressed against him a bit. Well, maybe not all that unconsciously. I needed to get this lust under control if I wanted to do this right.

Very carefully I avoided touching him more than I needed to as I slid the jeans over his hips and down around his knees. Well, it seemed our oh-so-dominant Nicholas liked to go commando. I shouldn’t have been surprised. I took a deep breath, feeling almost a little light-headed, looking at that bared male vision before me. No flabbiness on this man, that was for sure. His glutes and quads bespoke a man who either spent much time in the gym, or a lot of time on his feet, using his legs. I bit my bottom lip and reminded myself of my task.

I stood up and knelt one knee on the bench beside Nicholas, leaning down to speak into his ear with one hand on his back.

“Are you ready, not-so-little sub?”

He hung his head, took a deep breath, then replied. “Yes, Mistress.”

Ooh, I liked the sound of that. A little thrill ran through me when he said that. Deeply satisfied, I ran my hand down his back, caressing him, until I felt his shirt end and his bare skin lay under my palm. I pulled his shirt-tail up out of the way, letting it bunch up around his waist, and following the cue from when our positions had been reversed, rubbed his right cheek in a circular motion, preparing him.

“How many spanks do you think you deserve, my sub?”

“As many as Mistress deems appropriate.”

“Good boy.”

I spanked him.

He barely flinched, but oh wow, my palm stung. I ignored the pain, rubbed his cheek, and then spanked the left one. Again, I really felt that in my hand, while he hardly seemed to notice. I didn’t even see much redness on his bottom, just the barest impression. I gave him two more swats, one to each cheek, in fairly quick succession, and then I had to stop.

My hand was on fire. Something was not right in this scenario.

I stood there a minute, shaking out my wrist, until I noticed him looking over his shoulder back at me, a gleam of laughter in his eye.

“Is something wrong, Mistress? Have we begun yet?”

Partners and Crime: Your Opinion?

Several of you have commented upon and ‘liked’ the little bit of unfinished serial flash fiction I’ve published on this blog, Partners and Crime. That is actually quite gratifying, considering I started it on a whim, with no real concept of where it would go. Eventually I stretched it to three ‘parts’ and roughly 3,000 words, and of course it’s still unfinished, ending on a little bit of a cliffhanger. Partly that is because I’ve been working on other things, and partly it’s because the next natural step in the story seemed likely to get somewhat more explicit than I thought I could get away with on a blog not flagged ‘mature.’

Actually, that’s another thing I’d like to get some opinions on, too. Namely, just how awful is it to have WordPress flag your blog as ‘mature?’ From the documentation, it seems like it would make it essentially unsearchable and unfindable except for those who know the URL exactly (i.e., no Google search will find it, and it won’t show up in WordPress Reader — is that true?). Since that seems like it would be death for a blog in which an author is trying to promote her work, I don’t think I want to go there, but it’s certainly possible I’m misunderstanding how this works.

So, for now at least, while I certainly do get a little bit steamy here (or at least I hope I do), there’s a blurry line I’m trying not to cross.

The main question I have at the moment, however, is about publication. Although I am working on a longer story, in novel format (a little bit of which I excerpted for you earlier today), I am considering taking a little bit of time to finish up Partners and Crime, perhaps rounding it out ultimately to about 8,000 or 10,000 words, and then publishing it. Really publishing it, I mean, as in making it available for purchase on Amazon as an e-book.

Would you pay 99 cents for an 8,000 word story? I know plenty of authors have short pieces out there, and they seem to do very well. Personally, I’d be fine with that, as long as I knew I was buying a shorter piece up front, so yes, it would be clear to everyone just what they were getting.

Another option is to enroll the story in Kindle Unlimited. This would mean that Kindle Unlimited members would be able to read the story for free, but for everyone else it would need to be priced at Kindle Select’s minimum of $2.99 (not counting the five free days per quarter). Matthew Kadish wrote a very interesting article recently about author marketing strategies around Kindle Unlimited, and from his findings, it seems like Partners and Crime could be a good fit.

It’s hard for me to justify charging $2.99 for an e-book that isn’t at least novella-length. So, this would really be marketed at Kindle Unlimited readers. Of course, I would make a point of highlighting the free days for everyone else.

Kindle Select also requires exclusivity, but that shouldn’t be a problem. Some have interpreted this to mean you can’t even have excerpts on your website, but I don’t think this is what was intended by the clause. Even if that’s true, the story will no doubt change a bit in editing to make it a little less episodic than its present form, plus about 70% of it isn’t even written yet.

What do you think?

Olivia Finds Her Hot Button

[This is the fourth excerpt from my work-in-progress novel, tentatively titled Switch. Before continuing, you may want to go back and see the earlier excerpts at In Which We Meet Olivia and Say Goodbye to PaulSecond Chances, and Second Chances (continued). After a disastrous attempt at figuring out if she’s into kinkier things with an ex-boyfriend, Olivia visits a local club that offers lessons. There she meets one of the instructors and is more than intrigued by the contrast he offers to her ex, but his calm detachment and polite refusal of her advances confuses her. In this scene, she has returned to the club for a second visit and decided to join, only to find a class has just finished (always a day late, that’s our Olivia).]

 

Nicholas noticed me looking around and leaned down to whisper in my ear, “Would you like to see some of what we were doing in class?”

Again, my heart caught in my throat. What had they been doing in class? Something about rope-work. Well, my imagination could run wild with that. Obviously somebody was getting tied up, or tied down, or something.

“Yes, please.”

He waited. I just looked at him quizzically. Finally, he said, “Yes, please,…?”

I was thoroughly confused, and that must have shown on my face. He relented and said “Yes, please, Sir.

Oh.

Right. That. I had so much to learn.

He was still looking at me expectantly.

“Yes, please, Sir,” I said.

He grinned. “I think that’s another five swats added to your punishment, wouldn’t you agree?”

Ok, now we were talking! He could take me from aggravated to confused to relieved to absolutely drop-dead hot in a matter of moments.

“My my, little Olivia, I do think we’ve found a hot button for you. Do you even realize how much your whole demeanor changed when I mentioned swatting you and punishment?”

Was my heart ever going to slow down to a normal pace again? He leaned down close and whispered in my ear, “I’m going to spank you.”

I’m fairly sure I squeaked.