Wednesday, 24 June 2020

My Shiny New Youtube Channel #WriterlyWednesdays


My Shiny New YouTube Channel


Now as I mentioned in last week's writerly Wednesday post, I have decided I need a Youtube channel. So I have been thinking about it all week and trying to plan, which involved a lot of watching Youtube vids on how to set up a Youtube channel etc. 😁
YouTube Logo


First of all I had to decide what I wanted to put on it and this is what I have come up with so far:
  • Story narration
  • Novel excerpt narration
  • Book trailers and other Wittegen Press news vids
Other suggestions of things you might like to see, gratefully accepted.

Then I made a list of all the content I already have to choose from, well actually I made a Google Sheet (so useful). Turns out I have over 100 sources to choose from. And that doesn't include the naughtier stories, which I can't put up because Youtube does not like adult content.

In all honesty I don't have a strategy completely worked out yet, but I am plotting.

Sherlock plotting with his fingers tapping in front of his mouth.

One thing I did decide is that my focus is going to be on the narration, with other things as additions, because I think that is what might bring in an audience. So I brainstormed for a Youtube channel name and came up with...

Drum Roll


Tales With Tasha

So far I have a channel art, an icon and 2 subscribers, both of whom are other accounts I own, but we all have to start somewhere, down't we 😎.

Next I need to come up with:
  • The about section
  • A plan of attack so I can get the content prepared.
Apparently I need 100 subscribers and have had the channel for 30 days before I can get my proper URL. πŸ’–So if you feel like subscribing to a completely empty channel, that would be awesome - thank you.πŸ’– I promise there will be content.

Do any of you have a YouTube channel? What content do you put on it? Any tips? Drop me a link so I can check it out.

New Release Day

Yesterday was new release day over at VirginiaWaytes.com (my alter ego) with:

Sexy Stories 12 - The Manor s01e12

Josh is gone, but there is still hope to find him, even with the pack bond occluded to be useless. His connection to Pippa may be the answer and she and Lucy must work together to launch a dangerous rescue mission.

Wednesday, 17 June 2020

The Social Media Minefield #WriterlyWednesdays

The Social Media Minefield #WriterlyWednesdays


The Social Media Minefield 

Writerly Wednesdays


So yesterday I went to a very enlightening event run by my old school's Alumni association - don't worry, it was a Zoom event. It was hosted by one of the old girls who is now a social media professional and she had some great insights.

We all know that a social media presence is vital for most businesses these days, especially we indies trying to get along in the great bit pond of sharks. So I thought I would write up my take-aways from the session. Now this isn't everything she said, or all the tips she gave, but these are the parts that stuck in my brain, with a few of my own observations thrown in.

The Most Important Aspect of Social Media

Three women chatting and engaging with each other.
Photo by Aw Creative on Unsplash

Social media is just that, social. Posting and running does not work. Engagement is key.

I must admit, I fall down on this. My Facebook engagement is dismal - mostly because I hate the platform. Given the way algorithms work on these platforms now, without engagement you're dead in the water.

The 3 Most Important Social Media Platforms

We have a plethora of social media platforms to choose from out there, but from a business point of view at the moment the three most important are:
TikTok is in there too, but it is a very specialised platform and requires knowledge of trends etc, which can be very hard from a business point of view.

Things To Do On All Social Media

  1. Make sure your bio is up to date
  2. Make sure your contact info is up to date
  3. Check all links are pointing at the right places
Even if we make the greatest posts, if people can't find us easily, they won't bother. Social media is all about the customer's instant gratification.

Also, we need to make sure we are socially aware and ready to respond to such topics if they come up. Social media is an unforgiving place. The holy grail is to go viral, but we must make sure we're not going to do so for all the wrong reasons.

Set up a social calendar so that social media is planned out in advance. This includes things like world book day, etc. and can also help with the social awareness. But don't take advantage of things like Pride and Black Awareness Month, make sure we are giving back, not just trying to take.

Facebook

Facebook Logo

Once upon a time Facebook was the hip and happ'n place to be, but these days it is for the mid range to older demographic. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but it's good to know. If our market is teenagers, we are unlikely to find our audience as well there as other platforms.

On Facebook catching attention is very important and the best way to do that is:
  1. Video - short, sharp, easy to digest, engaging video that gets people to stop on the post.
  2. Images/Links - if no video go with images/gifs or links to catch people's eye
There is a button at the top of every business page on Facebook - make sure it is set to the optimal thing for our brand. For example, mine is set to sign up to my newsletter on The Sexy Stories page and a Shop Now button on my general Author's Page.

Pin a post to the top of your page's timeline ( I didn't even realise this was possible) with all our useful information in it.

Don't just like other people's posts - comment, or use the reaction options - the algorithm likes this.

1 post a day is probably what to aim for, but pushing it to 2, if it's a promotional event is fine. Don't overload with lots and lots of posts.

Twitter

Twitter Logo

Twitter is a fast moving, sometimes slightly irreverent platform. The best way to find out how the land lies and how to engage well at the time is to check out other users who are doing it right and who we admire. Then take their formula and apply it to our own corner of the platform.

For example - hashtags can be really, really useful and good ones for writers are: #WritingCommunity
#WritersLift, #ShamelessSelfPromotion etc. See what is popular, how they are being used and figure out how they can help us too, but always remember, it's about giving back as well as asking for things.

N.B. If you capitalise the first letter of a new word in a hashtag, not only is it easier to read, but it also allows visually impaired users with audio desciption to hear the hashtag properly.
  • Just liking things doesn't cut it these days - if we want to help out another Twitter user, hit the retweet - if we think it's really important, retweet with comment to up the profile.
  • Add a pinned tweet to our profile - pinned tweets allow people who follow us to know what we would really like them to retweet. Whenever I follow a new person, I look for their pinned tweet and retweet it for them.
  • Use images/gifs/vids in tweets - adding some form of image media to a tweet immediately makes it more eye-catching and it is much more likely to be engaging.
  • Ask questions, have conversations, engage with other people.
1-3 tweets per day is good for an average day.

My Twitter Follow/Unfollow Policy:

[Edit: Forgot to mention - this part is all me, not anything the lovely lady teaching us about social media said, but I did just hit 2K followers on my new Virginia account using this strategy and the retweeting pinned tweets one. It may not be suitable for other kinds of business, however.]

  • Some of the people I follow are friends - they tend to be mutuals, but are whitelisted even if they aren't. I do not unfollow them.
  • Some people I follow are celebrities/brands - they are whitelisted unless they do something hideous.
  • Everyone I follow for business related reasons gets a 2-3 week grace period, if they do not follow me back I unfollow them - this is so I do not hit any of Twitter limits. Sometimes this ends up with a mutual follow because I follow them again at another point and it was just they missed me the first time, so it can be good housekeeping regardless of limits.
  • Other reasons for unfollowing usually involve politics or some sort of -ism that was not obvious when I first checked out their account.

Instagram

Instagram Logo

Now I don't use Instagram much, but is seems this needs to change. I have very little to say about it, since I don't really get it yet, but I took one thing away with me from the session:
  • We need to make sure our images are fabulous.
Big businesses contract photographers just to populate their Instagram feeds, so there is a lot of competition. If our camera phone is not great, we need to edit the images before they go up. Having colour themes so the grid looks cool is also a plus.

I have no clue exactly how to go about this yet, but I shall  have to have a go eventually.

YouTube

Youtube Logo

Now I didn't put this in the top three, but it is an important platform, especially for creators like us. It is one of the biggest search engines in the world for content, so it is a great place to be.

I have neglected Youtube so far, but I plan to rectify this soon. I will report back on what I decide to do as I come up with a plan. This is especially tricky for Virginia Waytes, since that is all adult content and Youtube does not allow that, but I have a few ideas.

Useful Tools

And last but not least - some tools I have found most useful in my social media travels, or that I have just learned about which will be very useful.
  • Buffer - great for scheduling social media posts in advance - has a free option. I have been using this one for years and it is very, very useful.
  • Linktree - allows you to have one link so everyone can find all your main links in one place. I had never heard of this, but it is apparently really useful for Instagram. Also has a free option.
  • WhoUnfollowedMe - great for seeing new followers (it's easy to miss people on Twitter's interface), seeing who unfollowed, and checking who are mutuals. I have a paid plan with this because I found the free version so useful, and it is awesome.
Well I hope this has made a few useful points for everyone. Do drop me a comment to chat if you would like, or let me know your tips and tricks. The social media minefield is something we all have to play in everyday and we can always learn more about how to sidestep the explosions!

~*~

Yesterday was New Episode Day

Sexy Stories 11 - The Manor s01e10

Pippa and Josh are becoming closer all the time, but the danger of Josh's old pack lurks on the horizon. It hangs over them like a shadow and it may be a long journey back to the light.

Podcast - all the naughty bits totally free
eBook - all the plot and all the naughty bits 99c

Tuesday, 9 June 2020

Recipe: Tangzhong Milk Bread - Delicious White Bread with a Great Shelf Life

Tangzhong Milk Bread

So I have been making this recipe for three weeks now and it is fabulous. This makes 2 loaves and it keeps for up to a week in an airtight container. That's if it lasts that long. However, it's a little tricky because it's a very sticky dough so I have a couple of tips.
  • Use a stand mixer or specialised dough mixer if possible - I use my Kitchen Aid with the dough hook attachment. If you need to do it by hand, oil is going to be your friend, because using flour with dry out the dough too much.
  • Handle the dough with oiled gloves or very oily hands.
  • Handle the dough on a well oiled surface or a non-stick silicon baking sheet - my lovely sister bought me a large silicon pasty mat for Christmas last year and it is so useful for this.
Not my image - but this is what it looks like - will swap this out when I remember to take a piccie!


Tangzhong Milk Bread


Ingredients

for the Tangzhong
  • 40g Strong White Bread Flour
  • 200ml/g 0.85 cups water

for the dough
  • 580g/ 4cups Strong White Bread Flour
  • 60g/ 1/4cup sugar
  • 12g/ 2 tsp salt
  • 10g/ 2.5 tsp dried yeast
  • 10g/ 2.5 tsp dried milk powder
  • 260g / 1cup + 2 tbsp milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 50g/ 1/2 stick unsalted butter (room temp)
for the glaze
  • 1 egg yolk
  • milk

Instructions

The Tangzhong - make in advance

Now I have seen recipes that call for this to me made the night before, 6 hrs before and 30 mins before, so it is up to you which you go for depending on what time you have.
  1. Place the flour and water into a shallow pan and heat gently, stirring all the time.
  2. Cook until the mixture is a thick paste.
  3. Transfer to a container and cover with cling film. Place in the fridge for 6hrs or over night, or place in the freezer for 30mins.
  4. Take out and allow to come to room temp before using.
The Bread
  1. Add the flour, sugar, salt, yeast and milk powder to the mixer bowl making sure not to let the salt and yeast come into direct contact.
  2. Mix the ingredients together to ensure proper distribution.
  3. Warm the milk in the microwave for 30s until it is luke warm to the touch.
  4. Add the egg and whisk together.
  5. Add the wet ingredients and the tangzhong to the dry and mix on low speed until the dough is beginning to come together.
  6. Add the butter to the dough and continue to mix on med until combined.
  7. Increase the mixer speed and knead for between 5-10 mins until the gluten is developed and the dough has come away from the sides of the mixer.
  8. Take the dough out and form into a ball by folding the sides under. (If you try this without oiled gloves or very oiled hands it will stick to you and you will never get it into a ball - trust me, this is what happened to me the first time).
  9. Place in an oiled bowl, cover in cling film and allow to rise for at least 45 mins to 1 hr depending on how warm it is. The dough is ready when you can put an oiled finger into it and it holds its shape. (I do this in my Instant Pot on the yoghurt setting - proves in 45 mins then).
  10. Turn out onto a non-stick surface and divide into six.
  11. Roll each into a ball and place under cling film for 15 mins.
  12. Lightly oil 2 2lb (9x5'') loaf pans.
  13. Take each ball and roll out into an oval using a non-stick rolling pin.
  14. Fold the top point of the oval over the middle and press down with the heel of your hand.
  15. Fold the bottom up over the middle and press down with the heel of our hand.
  16. Take one of the non-folded edges and press over like the first roll of a swiss roll and press the edge into the main dough with finger tips so it sticks.
  17. Roll up and seal the edge by pinching it, so you have a mini roll the approx width of the loaf pan and 1/3 the length (looks to be a similar shape to a pain au chocolat).
  18. Place in one end of the loaf pan.
  19. Repeat 13-18 until there are three rolls in each tin next to each other.
  20. Cover with cling film and allow to rise in a warm spot for 30 mins, until the dough is up to the top of the loaf pans.
  21. Pre-heat the over to 180C/355F
  22. Beat together an egg yolk and a little milk to form the glaze.
  23. Brush the tops of the loaves gently with the glaze.
  24. Bake for 25 mins - they will turn a lovely deep golden brown.
  25. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

This bread makes the most amazing eggy bread/egg flip or French toast. One small slice can suck up a whole egg! It is also delicious for sandwiches and toast.



The Sexy Stories Podcast 10


It's Tuesday, which means a new ep of my podcast Virginia Waytes' Sexy Stories. We are coming towards the end of season 1 of The Manor at the moment, and things are really getting exciting as well as very, very naughty!

Paranormal romance - adults only
The Manor s01e09
Daddy Issues: Vampire Wisdom & the Comfort of Friends


Monday, 1 June 2020

Recipe: Delicious Chicken & Rice - #InstantPot & #StoveTop Instructions


Recipe: Chicken & Rice

Delicious Chicken & Rice


Instant Pot or Stove Top


This is a recipe I only tried last week and it has become one of my husband's favourites and I love it too. Possibly not quite as much as he does, but it is very yummy. It is also so very easy and can be made in the Instant Pot (or other pressure cooker) or on the stove top.

serves 2 (just up the amounts for more)

Ingredients

  • 6 mini breast fillets (chicken tenders) cut into bite sized pieces ~300g - breast would work well too, but thighs might need a little more cooking.
  • 1/2 large onion - diced very small
  • 1 large carrot or 2 small ones - diced very small
  • 500ml / 2 cups chicken stock (I use low sodium, but just use your favourite)
  • 2 cloves garlic (crushed - I use lazy garlic and its about a tsp)
  • sprinkle of Italian seasoning
  • 200g/1 cup Jasmine rice (or white rice of choice)
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 25g/ 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, or something similar
  • fresh herbs - e.g. parsley, coriander/cilantro or basil (optional)

Instant Pot Instructions

  1. Turn on the Instant Pot and choose the saute setting.
  2. Add the oil, the onions and the carrots and saute for about 5 mins or until the onions are translucent and the carrots are beginning to go tender.
  3. Add the garlic and stir for about 30 sec.
  4. Add the chicken and stir around until the chicken is beginning to colour a little.
  5. Cancel the saute.
  6. Use a little of the chicken stock to deglaze the bottom of the pot, then add the rest.
  7. Add in the rice and stir gently so all the rice is covered in the stock.
  8. Add the Italian seasoning and salt and pepper.
  9. Put on the lid, make sure the valve is on sealing, choose the pressure/manual setting and set for 10mins.
  10. When the time is up, allow to sit for 5 mins to allow the chicken to rest.
  11. Release the pressure and open the pot.
  12. Stir the rice and make sure it hasn't stuck.
  13. Add the Parmesan and stir through.
  14. If using fresh herbs, chop them and add them now and stir through.
  15. Serve immediately.

Stove Top Instructions

  1. Add the oil to a deep stove top pan that has a tight fitting lid and heat.
  2. Add the chicken and cook through until almost completely done, then remove and set aside.
  3. Add a little more oil to the pan and add the carrots and the onions and sweat down until the onions are soft and the carrots are beginning to become tender.
  4. Add the glaric and fry until it become fragrant, 30-60sec
  5. Deglaze the pan with a little of the stock and then add the rest.
  6. Add in the rice and stir in.
  7. Add in the Italian herbs and seasoning.
  8. Add back in the chicken.
  9. Bring to the boil and cover with the lid.
  10. Turn down the heat and cook for 13-15 mins or until the rice is done to your liking and has absorbed nearly all the stock. Add more water if necessary, but there should be enough.
  11. Turn off the heat and stand for 5 mins with the lid still on.
  12. Stir to fluff the rice and add in the Parmesan and fresh herbs (if using) and stir through.
  13. Serve immediately.
This recipe is so quick and easy and makes a great, hearty meal. It's also very adaptable and we could add different veg if we wanted to. The secret is the spicing and Parmesan - everything else is up for debate. It would be easy to veggify this by substituting the chicken, either with some chunky veg, or some quorn or tofu, and using a Parmesan substitute that is vegetarian friendly.