Instagram Your Life

Snap a photo, send it to Instagram—instant sharing!

Instagram’s motto is: Strengthening relationships through shared experiences.

This was the premise for the original version of Instagram, and the younger set loved it! These days, everyone’s getting involved. As a result, Instagram is evolving.

With Instagram’s newest feature called “stories,” you can create a series of photos somewhat like a slideshow. So you can showcase those wedding pics or vacation snapshots in a quick story that will disappear … at the end of the day. Wait a minute—isn’t that kind of like that other platform—Snapchat?

Exactly!

You can snap photos throughout the day and add them to your story. Best vacation ever? Share it with your friends.

Researching your next novel set in Ireland? By all means, share the highlights with your readers. That’s an attention-getter! You may glean a harvest of followers with that one.

Disappearing what? You can shoot a photo and send it to a particular friend. As soon as they look at the photo, it disappears. There’s something a little sneaky about that, but if you’re interested, you’ll find the directions here: How to send disappearing photos in Instagram. Take care what you send, though. Just because it disappears doesn’t mean it’s not out there somewhere…seen by someone.

Instagram is another great way to connect with readers. And let me just say, it’s not another way to advertise your books. It’s a chance to engage readers, and gain their interest and attention by sharing your interests.

Are you a bird watcher? Share your beautiful photos of birds. Love hiking or early morning walks? Snap photos along the way.

Need suggestions? Look up one of your favorite authors and study what they share. One of my favorites inspires me daily with her morning walks in the country (she lives on a farm). Another posts what she’s cooking that day. Two very good suggestions, but don’t just mimic them, make them your own.

So far, I’ve talked about ways to connect with readers in a personal way, which I believe is the best way to make friends. But, what if you want to share your latest and greatest book release? Or a book that’s on sale?

Honestly, I hate to see Instagram go the way of the overstuffed Facebook profiles chock-full of ads. But, there are tasteful ways to get your message out there. I’ve seen some very high-end brands doing this, and if it’s artfully done, you can make a positive impression.

For instance, snap a photo of someone reading your book. Tell a story. Some companies hire storytellers to craft ads and marketing campaigns. Put your writer’s brain to work finding unique ways to market yourself and your books.

Remember the ad, “What’s in your wallet?” Involve friends and family members, and have them show what’s in their book bag, purse, briefcase, suitcase, or on their E-reader. Your latest release is there, of course.

Take the book along on your travels. Post a shot of a beautiful landscape or building with your book in the foreground. Just imagine it!

These are only a few suggestions. I hope you’ll be inspired to create some truly unique scenes. But don’t make it all about your books. Remember, social media is for connecting with people. Most of us are uncomfortable with an in-your-face salesperson pressuring you to buy their product. Don’t be that person. Have fun with Instagram, and don’t forget to visit your friends there.

A few helpful hints about Instagram:

  • Double-click on a friend’s picture to “love” it. You can also click the heart beneath the pic.
  • Click the little speech balloon emblem to comment on the photo (keep it short).
  • Click the paper airplane emblem to send the photo, or share it with a friend.
  • Click the ribbon emblem on the far right to save the photo. You’ll see “Save to collection”—click on that to save. You can also choose to view saved photos.
  • Instagram has some pretty cool filters for your photos, but don’t overdo. Less is definitely more.
  • Same with hashtags. Instagram has its own unique set of hashtags. Google “Instagram hashtags” to find the most popular ones. Just don’t overdo it.
  • Post often. You can post the photos from your phone on both Instagram and Facebook in a single move.
  • Super-simple icons at the bottom of your phone screen make moving around in Instagram easy.
    • Home
    • Search (easy way to find interesting stories)
    • Add photo (from your files)
    • Heart (who has liked your photos)
    • Profile

There are so many more things you can do in Instagram. You’ll find helpful tutorials and articles on the internet if you’re ready to get serious with your Instagram account. The best way to learn is to jump in and start posting. Just remember to add value with what you post. Your friends will ❤ you for it. 🙂

Click to Tweet: #Instagram is a great way to connect with readers. It’s a chance to engage with others, gain their interest and attention by sharing your interests. Instagram Your Life via @InspiredPrompt from @batowens. #socialmedia #marketing

Writing Prompt: Selfies from Marcella’s latest dog-walk adventure made a great story for Instagram, especially when Don Juan, the Great Dane, caught sight of…

The Inspiration of Story

During this month, we are sharing how an author has inspired us. But instead of writing about how one has inspired me as a writer, I thought I would write about how they have inspired me as a reader.

The Exercise of Our Faith

I would like to begin with a quote from Eugene Peterson.

 

Parables aren't illustrations that make things easier; they make things harder by requiring the exercise of our imagination, which if we aren't careful, becomes the exercise of our faith

 

Peterson begins, “Jesus was a master at subversion…. Parables sound absolutely ordinary: casual stories about soil and seed, meals and coins and sheep, bandits and victims, farmer and merchants. And they’re wholly secular: of his forty or so parables recorded in the Gospels, only one has its setting in church, and only a couple mention the name of God. As people heard Jesus tell these stories, they saw at once that they weren’t about God, so there was nothing in them threatening their own sovereignty. They relaxed their defenses. They walked away perplexed, wondering what they meant, the stories lodged in their imagination. And then, like a time bomb, they would explode in their unprotected hearts. An abyss opened up at their very feet. He was talking about God; they had been invaded.

“Jesus continually threw odd stories down alongside ordinary lives and walked away without explanation or altar call. …But the parable didn’t do the work—it put the listener’s imagination to work. Parables aren’t illustrations that make things easier; they make things harder by requiring the exercise of our imagination, which if we aren’t careful, becomes the exercise of our faith.”

Story is a Powerful Thing

And there you have an outline for the perfect story. Fiction stories are parables. Stories ask the reader a “what if.” As a reader, we get caught up in a world not our own. We relax while experiencing this new private world. Unconsciously, we begin living the story and suddenly realize a hidden truth about ourselves we would have never recognized otherwise.

 

Story is a powerful thing.In the midst of recounting our stories, the veil of obscurity falls away, and we see clearly what we've hidden from ourselves.(1)

 

Inspiring Through Story

For example, Francine Rivers’ Redeeming Love opened my heart to the realization that I was lovable even though I felt the exact opposite. Through that word of truth, I began to thirst for a much-needed restorative healing balm to my shattered heart. That hunger led me to open up to the only One who could supply it.

The O’Malley Series by Dee Henderson taught me that life doesn’t always go as planned and my prayers are not always answered the way I think they should be answered because only God knows what is best for His children. My job is to trust and obey Him. His plans are higher than mine.

Jill Austen, author of Master Potter and Master Potter and the Mountain of Fire inspired me to research pottery. When Austen’s character Beloved meets Master Potter, she accepts His invitation to the Potter’s house. Austen explains the process of making clay vessels while sharing spiritual truths.

 

 

I don’t remember everything about these authors’ books. But the one thing I do recall is the characters and the character arcs in the story. Because I became that character. Each one of these authors inspired me to seek for that which my heart longed for: make a difference in this life through my relationship with Christ. Isn’t that the reason we write? To make a difference? To inspire change?


Writing Prompt: Do you recall an author that has made a difference in your life? What changes did you make after reading their book? Take a moment to reflect on that change. Now make a list of how you can inspire those around you.

Click to Tweet: How an Author Inspired Me. “Parables aren’t illustrations that make things easier; they make things harder by requiring the exercise of our imagination, which if we aren’t careful, becomes the exercise of our faith.”