Wednesday, December 30, 2015

How Do You Spell Grammarly?

The Big Prize Contest:
Leave a comment at the end and post a link to this blog on your Social Media. In 30 Days I will select one person at random to receive one month of free Premium Grammarly service (a $37.95 Value).
Email me a link to your post to increase your chances of winning.
Contest ends January 31, 2016

M. Matheson, that's me, alias Mr. Skeptical but always looking for a deal and a shortcut. I took a chance on a program called Grammarly. It was hard to believe that a free program could do a better job of checking Spelling and Grammar than good old reliable Microsoft Word.
Such is the future.
How does Grammarly work? (From the company's FAQ)
Grammarly is an online grammar and spelling checker that improves communication by helping users find and correct writing mistakes. It’s easy to use: 
  • Copy and paste any English text into Grammarly’s online text editor or install Grammarly’s free browser extension for Chrome and Safari.
  • Grammarly’s algorithms flag potential issues in the text and suggest context-specific corrections for grammar, spelling, and vocabulary. Grammarly explains the reasoning behind each correction, so you can make an informed decision about whether, and how, to correct an issue.
  • In addition to the online text editor, Grammarly also offers a free browser extension for Chrome and Safari, which corrects over 150 types of errors. Grammarly for Chrome and Grammarly for Safari bring Grammarly’s powerful algorithms straight to you wherever you are writing online, including Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Tumblr. You can correct mistakes in your text with a single click.

My description/review. (Mildly more entertaining.) Like your High School English teacher or that smoking hot College Professor, Grammarly follows you wherever you go with a ruler in her cute little hand ready to smack you on the back of the head. Only instead of leaving you shriveled and cowering Grammarly shows you the error or errors of your ways.
Anything that you write in your web browser, emails, social media posts, and even this blog, Grammarly runs her fingers through its wordy hair looking for disgusting little nits. Nits that may make you look stupid or more stupid, present company intended.
The free version corrects grammar, spelling, and contextual issues. Even the Pro Version won't write for you or create prose out of thin air, but it does recognize the puking passive sentence.

The Pro version works overtime for you and has settings to differentiate between modes of writing from personal, business, or novel writing. You can set it to irritatingly high levels or plain passivity. What it doesn't do is pester you with every missing period or doubled space. After all is said and done, she leaves you with your ego intact.

I drove the free version for several months until I got deep into the third edit of my second novel, Flatline. The offer was good with varied plans from monthly to yearly subscriptions. The yearly is by far the better deal, but you didn't need me to tell you that. If, within seven days, you don't think it is a great value, Grammarly offers your money back no questions asked.
That deal is hard to beat, a real win-win.

My Conclusion: If you do any writing online, you can seriously up your game by subscribing to Grammarly. It is a solid FOUR Stars, and I rely on it daily if not hourly. They have a very responsive customer service team.
Do not forget to leave your comment for the Big Prize Contest.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

We're not Murderers We are Killers. There's a Difference.

The following excerpt is from Flatline my next book, a full tilt running crime novel in which the heroes of the story are not the good guys. It's a wicked twist on the Robin Hood story. Our protagonists, who are not very nice men are preparing for their first sortie into the streets of Recife, Brazil. Their mission is to kill the murderers of street kids. 
Troy is the retired motorcycle gangster. Enrique is a sixteen-year-old boy who he rescued from a contract hit that he performed. And, Hercules was their bodyguard but is now their great friend.

July was my original target for completion, then October, but the characters just wouldn't stay in the box. I am on the second revision/edit and hope to be published by the end of January. March at the latest.


That information added to intel provided by Commander de Lima helped them develop their first hard target.
It was ten o’clock on a Tuesday night. The weather was warm, and the stars were fuzzy points of light thanks to the smog of the city. At their clandestine safe house, room 107 in the Hotel Veraneio, Troy spread the old map and went over their positions and instructions for the fifth time. Inventorying their weaponry, ammo, and surveillance gear for the first strike, they felt like exterminators riding out to rid the city of an unseen plague.
Four Remington Compact Sniper Rifles were broken down into small custom-fit rucksacks. The rucksacks went into backpacks similar to what a school kid would carry and then all four packs were stowed into a single duffel until they reached the site. They tested their earwig communications. When Troy had been teaching him how to fight and use guns, Enrique never imagined that one day this would all come to life.
“Boy! Get those dreamy thoughts out of your head!” Hercules snapped. “You need all your wits about you, or we'll be dumping your carcass in the water along with those murderers.”
“Ain't we murderers Herc?” Enrique rocked on his heels thinking he might have bested the large man.

Hercules fumed and stamped, and the sound reverberated off cheap walls. Even the concrete underfoot rattled as if it might crack from his undecipherable bellowing. “No!” he shouted. “We're not murderers.” He jerked open the threadbare drapes and pointed his finger out the window and into one of the largest cities in South America. “Those baby killers out there, they are the murderers! We're killers. Get that in your head. There's a difference. God doesn’t murder; he kills.”

If you'd like to leave a comment and find the form tedious you can comment on my twitter feed @mikeyznsacto or Facebook M. Matheson

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Okay, I'll admit it; this may be a bit of a rant, but if you will take the time to read it, you may get a laugh or two along with some tips on Twitter.
And, like the commands in God's book, if you will follow them your Twitter-life will get better. So, whether you are a believer or not, strap your seatbelt tight and let's go.


Thou shalt use a profile pic

Eggy??? Who are you?
Show some respect for yourself and your own dignity, if you have any.
Am I the only person whose nerves chafe at the sight of that pathetic looking egg?
Would you take anyone serious if your only image of them was a white two-dimensional egg hemmed in by a colored box?
Think – why are you on Twitter in the first place?
At the bare minimum, you want to share trashy tweets with your old college pals. In that case, do you really want them seeing you without your yolk? Take five minutes and show them what a badass you are (if you are a guy). Steal some pics off the internet like I did these.
If you are a girl make it sweet, sexy or both, just not trashy.
You have something to promote or share. Everyone does. Out of the 974 million existing Twitter accounts, there is someone interested in what you are selling or giving away, even if it’s only your opinion.
If you want a better than 1:974,000,000 chance of gaining followers that are interested in you or your product, 
When I am sorting through the people that have followed me and deciding whether they are interesting enough to follow back,
I immediately exclude profiles with no pic.
Even if it just has to be a picture of your cat, dog, or giraffe in the newest sweater you knit for them,
I will consider following you
But if there is no profile pic, your race is over. You never made it out of the gate.


Thou shalt show your Bio

Write a Bio.
Write a Bio.
Oh, did I repeat myself?
Make yourself or your product sound interesting even if it’s concrete railroad ties. You only have 160 characters to do it.
No profanity. Put it in your posts, seeing it in your bio makes me wince and pass you by. I am not alone.
Tell the truth. Stretch the hell out of it all you want to, just don’t break it.
Tell us who you are. My Bio says more than it says. I’ve worked a long time on it and am still tweaking it to perfection.
I have lived as an Outlaw, but also a missionary.
Throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s, I was a motorcycle outlaw living on the fringes of society. From 1990 up until a few years ago, I was a missionary to the inner city and I traveled to other countries as an evangelist.
Today, I have published one book and write stories, all fictional tales that draw pictures of truth.
I am a social media curator guru. I currently curate twelve accounts. Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
GURU is a stretch, but I have done well.
Include relevant well-known hashtags.
Use only hashtags that you deserve or have a right to.
Include a link or two pointing to your blog, website, Facebook, Smashwords, a link to your product.


Thou shalt make a discernable header pic

Make it sharp, make it fit. Make me sit up and take notice.
Don’t cut off people or animal’s heads and other body parts, unless, of course, it is relevant to your genre. I.e. horror or zombie stuff.
Use a high-resolution photo or graphic. No pornography or anything close. No profanity. It’s a turn off even for people that use lots of it. Seeing expletives in a header or bio makes us wince and pass you by.
This template is 730 x 205, but I’ve found the using a 3:1 ratio on a higher resolution image and respecting the invisible areas will give you better results.


Thou shalt Tweet MORE of your own stuff.

Leave more than a breadcrumb trail of original posts.
Here’s the deal. You have been kind enough to follow or retweet my post, so I go to your timeline looking for something of yours to retweet. In your last 100 posts, all I see is retweets of other posts. I really would like to promote your stuff. Really.
Don’t make me work so hard to find your original tweets.


Thou shalt not automate your timeline

If it’s too easy or too cheap…
Sure it’s easy to turn over your account to a bot that retweets the tweets of people who interact with you, but it’s phony. It looks phony, and it smells phony.
Don’t use automated services such as Round Team. Everyone knows it and if they don’t, every so often there is a tweet that says, “So and so is sitting home watching TV while our computer tweets all the stuff you’re responding to. So and so is a big phony.”
What kind of friends do you want? Ones that have no choice because you hired them or people genuinely interested in you?
I have a high respect for the people I meet on Twitter.
My profile has a high percentage of organic followers that I grew by my own actions. They are appreciated and in turn I am valued by them.


Thou shalt not buy followers

Need I explain? See Commandment Five.


Thou shalt respond and do it quickly

This is the surest way to grow your account. As your account grows upwards of 10,000 followers it becomes a lot of work to follow up and reply to them all. Every day I set aside time to get to as many as possible. I also have tricks I use to make the chore easier.
I have been rewarded by over 10,000 followers and a Klout score of 61. 63 puts a person in the top 5%. Klout is the measure of how well people interact with your account.


Thou shalt keep your posts fresh

If you are selling something, intersperse your promotional tweets with items of interest, quotes, news, photos, and special events. The pros say to use a ratio of 80 interesting posts and 20 promotional posts. The 80 can include retweets.


Thou shalt utilize the ‘Pinned Tweet’ for your own damned good

Promote your best stuff at the top of your timeline. On your tweet, click the three dots to open up a menu and select pin tweet.
Change it regularly.
Not using this feature is the same as shooting yourself in the foot.


Thou shalt use images in your posts and format them correctly

Any image as long as it’s sized to the correct ratio of 2:1will show up in its entirety in the timeline. Any other size looks stupid and only shows a partial picture.
The best size image is 1024 x 512.
I make sure that after my text in the post I have 31 characters remaining; 24 for the image and a seven-character margin so when the post is retweeted the post won’t be truncated.


These are all things I learned along the way. They are what I consider the big ones. Profiles that violate these commands appear like …