Social Media, Words, Writing

Miscommunication, the bane of social media! Or is it just me?

Miscommunication is key to the plot in my novel in progress, so I’ve been thinking about the ways we misconstrue the words and actions of those in our lives. Of course, that led to remembering how often I’ve failed in my online communications.

It didn’t take long after I started using email, to discover that lack of aural and visual clues leads to easy misinterpretation of words. The Geeks were ahead of me, of course, and had developed netspeak [LOL] and then emoticons [:-)] as a substitute, but often I neglected to use them and what I wrote in jest or sarcasm was taken seriously.

Unfortunately, I tend to forget that those I communicate with in social media don’t know me. And so, even if I don’t LOL or :-), I assume they’ll know when I’m joking. They’ll know I would never deliberately hurt their feelings. They’ll understand that I often speak before I’ve thought something through and give me the benefit of the doubt. It doesn’t work that way.

And I always forget that it doesn’t work that way.

In my short career in the online writing world, I have inadvertently insulted a NYTimes bestselling author by email and a literary Super Agent by blog comment; I’ve incited arguments where I never meant to; and I’ve annoyed, exasperated, and exhausted people with my incessant—and sometimes blatant—questions.

I’m sure the Internet police have a warrant out for me.

What about you? Do have this online communication thing down pat, or do you sometimes flub it up too?

Marketing, Novel, Promotion, Real Life, Social Media, Writing

A whole lot of networking … too little socializing!

It doesn’t take much to find a friend nowadays. One mouse click and you’re someone’s Friend. Or not. One mouse click and you’re in someone’s Circle of trust. Or not. One mouse click and you’re Following someone like a devoted puppy. Or not.

“Social” networking is mostly illusion. Have you ever taken a pre-schooler to the park and noticed that after five minutes of play with a child they’ve never seen before, they refer to that child as “my friend”? Yeah, social networking is like that. Cute, isn’t it?

If you’re a writer and read many industry blogs, you’re probably familiar with the use-social-media-to-build-your-platform message. I’d already started blogging when I first read that, but I took their advice to heart and joined Twitter. The advice said that I needed to have at least 1,000 followers before my book release date.

So, for the last two years, I’ve spent a lot of time on Twitter, which is why I’m focusing on that today. Yes, I tweet links to all my blog posts and, more recently, some book promotion, but I also retweet at least three times as many links by others as well as RTing their quotes, witticisms, and announcements. I try to have fun. I try to start or join in conversations. Months ago, I hit 1,000 followers and kept going.

I’m now at the point where I can avoid Twitter for a week and still gain 20-30 new followers. It has nothing to do with my brilliant skills at tweeting. It has nothing to do with me at all. I expect at least half those people immediately punt me to a list they never check. They aren’t interested in seeing any of my tweets … in interacting with me at all. I’m just a number they hope will follow them back and increase their counts—and, of course, read their brilliant tweets and buy their products. That’s social networking for you.

Until recently, tweeting links to my blog posts always generated a fair amount of blog hits, but even so, I have a feeling most of those hits were from people who read my posts anyway. The biz blogs led me to believe being on Twitter would be a big help to book sales, but I question that now. I can’t track all sales, of course, so I could be wrong. Still I wonder if the effort put forth on Twitter equals the benefit gained. (I could write a whole post on this, and I may, but for now, back to the social side.)

In my experience, except for blogging, there’s very little socializing in social media. No matter how many new followers I gain, interaction seems to come only from the same small group. “Coincidently” that group contains the same few who interact with me here on this blog—most of them since the early days. And most of those, I’ve also corresponded with by email. We might have even shared a thing or two about our non-writing lives. If they lived near me, I’d invite them over for lunch. Friends.

I’m open to new friendships, of course, I just won’t be as naïve as a four-year-old in recognizing them. I’m extremely thankful for those I do call friends. That’s why I’m rethinking how much of my time and energy I devote to my social networking “friends.” I think I’ve been short-changing my real friends—and that’s just not nice.

Family, My Books, Real Life, Social Media, Writing

If life hands you a lemon … just whine on your blog!

In the midst of writing a thoughtful post pondering why we write fiction, I answered my own question, rendering the post moot. So now, I’m writing a ten-minute free-write glimpse into my mind and hoping it doesn’t result in someone calling for the butterfly net. Okay, go!

I am afraid to write my next book. I spend just about as much time talking myself out of it as I do writing it. It’s not because I think Brevity is so fabulous that I can’t hope the next one will live up to it. I think it’s more that I fear Brevity is as good as I can write. And yet—and I think I said this to someone once—how will I know unless I try? ‘Tis a conundrum.

The other day, I saw someone on Twitter, or maybe Facebook, bemoan that they were too old to still be getting zits. I feel that way about a lot of things. I’m too old to be so socially awkward. I’m too old to be so indecisive. I’m too old to be such a … wimp. That’s what I feel like. Grow up, already!

I haven’t been back to Indiana since my father died five years ago today. I will be going there next week, and I’m reluctant. I think, in some tiny corner of my mind, I like to believe he’s still there. Plus, my mother’s health has deteriorated since he died and the last time she came here to visit, and I don’t want to face that. I’m a coward. But my youngest son will be receiving his PhD at Ball State, so go I will.

How maudlin. Let’s move on.

Everyone on Twitter is talking about Google+ … except me. You had to be invited to join. My invitation got lost in the email, I guess.* Or maybe it’s just for Blogspot bloggers. People are setting up circles, apparently. The rumor is, circles will replace Facebook … or is it Twitter? … or both? I will probably never know. I think I’m a square.

But really, do I need more social networking? I said to someone this morning … or was that yesterday … that I feel like I’m whirling around constantly and I expect to pass myself eventually. I probably won’t recognize me, though. I still think I’m young and thin and look like I have a clue.

Time’s up. Now I have to figure out what sort of illustration will fit this bizarre post.

If you can find anything above to comment on … have at it. Please.

*Shortly after I wrote this, I received an invitation to join Google+ … now, will someone explain the circle thing to me?

Humor, Marketing, Promotion, Real Life, Social Media, Writing

So, what’s the deal with Facebook Pages?

I have a Facebook Page as an Author. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with it. Not everyone who’s clicked to LIKE it follows me on Twitter or reads this blog, but a good many of them do. I expect some days when I actively participate in social media, they get tired of seeing my avatar pop up on their screens.

Like my Facebook page!I’m not naturally a pushy person. In gatherings, I prefer to sit quietly and listen. Though, I confess, if you start an interesting conversation with me, you might have trouble shutting me up. But I’m an Author now. Part of my job is to interact. So, I have a Facebook Page. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with it.

This is different from my personal Facebook account, where I feel free to post silliness. As an Author, I think should be more dignified. I channel links to my blog posts there and comment about my writing progress. Those are fine, but here are some examples of what my Likers also saw as “status” updates this month:

Lays Limón chips should be classified as an addictive substance.

It’s hard to type with a 2nd degree hot glue burn on my index finger.

We are having an honest to God gully-washing thunderstorm! In June! If you lived where I do, you’d know how freaky that is! LOVE IT!

So, you see, I have a Facebook Page, but I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with it. Do you have one? Can you give me some tips on how to use it effectively as an author … please?

Blog Stuff, Fiction, Novel, Publish, Social Media, Writing

How not to disappear into your writing

I need to get out more. Not outdoors, at least not while the pollen is blowing, but outside my own blog. Not only did I comment more on my friends’ blogs, but I used to seek out at least one new blog every day. I learned a lot and made new friends.

But I got overwhelmed with revisions, and my virtual borders shrank.  Then, I started down the road to indie publishing, and they shrank some more. I used to post faithfully, three times a week, but now that’s become a bit erratic, though I do keep up with replying to comments. I owe a big thank you to those who’ve stuck with me.

It seems the last I remember it was November. Can that be April at the door? Some of you have probably written two novels and ten shorts in that time. I’m totally out of touch. I miss the fun side of social media. I haven’t had a silly day on Twitter for ages.

Have you ever seen grass that bleached out because it’s been under something flat for a few days? That’s sort of how I feel—deformed and pale. But my self-imposed isolation is almost over. The e-book files are formatted and I’m waiting on the proof print copy. The Brevity of Roses will soon be out there in the world.

And so will I—virtually, at least. Watch for me. I’ll be that pale, lumpy, woman grinning and waving like crazy.

Photo credit: Dawn M Schiller – Odd Fae and Autumn Things
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