Me and Social Media

 


When it comes to me and the use of social media, some people might actually accuse me of being anti-social. I don’t believe that’s accurate, however. Not only have I made a number of new friends on Facebook and Twitter, I’ve also renewed old friendships that way.

I couldn’t tell you the number of former English students I’ve enjoyed catching up with on Facebook. I know some of them feel strange addressing me by my first name now–one fellow is so respectful I’ve just about given up on convincing him I really want him to–but at this age (I turned seventy-one yesterday) my old students and I aren’t that far apart in age. One of my most interesting former student reconnections is with Tom, who now lives and operates his own restaurant in Colombia.

I’ve also become friends again with an old friend from high school. Who would’ve thought she’d end up living in Richmond when we’d been in high school together in Norfolk? Or that she’d become one of the most enthusiastic supporters of both my writing and my music? My wife and I enjoy getting together with her periodically for a meal out.

And who would’ve thought I’d find another old friend–this young lady from one of my previous work places–who was at that time living in Brazil and had written her first novel? When I asked her to email a copy of it, my wife and I both love it so much I connected her with my original publisher; she ended up with a three-book contract. Yes, the original book was long enough to cut into three shorter books!

Probably most of my Facebook friends are fellow authors I’ve met at conferences. But I have been blessed to meet some of my readers on Facebook, too. Truthfully, those are the people I’d most like to get to know better.

One real failure on my part is not always staying up-to-date with my wonderful daughter and her terrific family. It’s certainly not lack of interest. I just can’t seem to make myself get on Facebook to see what’s going on in other people’s lives. If people post on my timeline or send me a message, I always respond. But doing Facebook just to do it isn’t my thing.

Twitter is more of an enigma to me. I honestly don’t get it. Maybe if I were a teen…

I occasionally tweet blurbs about an author friend’s books and occasionally about my own. But authors are cautioned to not do too much tweeting (or Facebook posting, for that matter) about their books. So I don’t. And the easiest way to avoid that is to rarely tweet at all.

I’ve met a couple of interesting people on Twitter, however. My favorite is Meggie Jenny, a Christian actress/screen writer/director/producer/you name it-er. Interestingly, she followed me first. I have no idea why. I admire her tremendously, so I’m careful not to bug her. And with that kind of relationship, I can count on her to tweet back.

I have Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest accounts. I rarely pay attention to Pinterest, although it’s amazing how many times people have re-posted some of my pictures from a tour my wife and I took of the Martin Guitar factory a few years ago.

Although my blog posts automatically go to Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, I’ve never figured out what to do with LinkedIn and I don’t need one more app on my phone to really take advantage of Instagram.

The thing is, I really do like people. Even though I enjoyed the solitude of computer programing for a number of years, now that I’m retired and spending all day at home writing while my wife is out making a living, I find that I do miss people. Walking at the mall in the early morning gives me some vital human contact, but–no matter how it might pain me to say so–so does my limited participation on social media.

But social media is far from being an addiction for me, and that’s a good thing, too.

What about you? Are you a media addict or do you use it reasonably…or not at all? Your comments are welcome.

 

    

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

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Rosa’s Facebook Release Party

Non-writers aren’t apt to realize that most of the marketing of a book falls on its author. Even the largest traditional publishers don’t do much marketing for their authors. Uh, except for the really big money makers. The 20% who’ll pay for the 80% of authors who don’t sell sufficiently well to justify helping. Unfortunate, but that’s the way it is.

And there are no guaranteed marketing strategies. What works for one person or one book will fail miserably for another. If there was one sure-fire way to guarantee book sales, everyone would hop on it and everyone would have a bestselling book. Hmm. Life doesn’t work that way.

I’ve mentioned–probably too often–that I’ve self-published Rosa No-Name, the prequel to Found in Translation. That means I don’t have a publisher to provide even a minimum amount of marketing.

So, like every other author, I’ve been trying to do everything I can to promote Rosa.  During the next month, Rosa is being featured on five different blog interviews or other promotions. And that’s good. At least additional people will learn about my book and perhaps even feel motivated to visit Amazon and check it out more closely.

But there’s one tradition I both love and dread: doing a Facebook release party. It’s easy enough to set up an event, in this case from my “Roger Bruner (author)” page. Since my wife, Kathleen, was helping, we both started inviting all of our Facebook friends. Between the two of us, we had a fairly large number. So I was about halfway through my friends list when Facebook told me I could only invite 500 people. There’s no limit on how many people can attend, but I could only specifically invite 500.

Okay. We’d both shared the news about the party on our individual Facebook pages. Hopefully enough people would see it. We knew only a small number of our friends and family would actually attend. People forget. Or they have something more important come up. Or they’re non-readers. Or they aren’t good enough friends to be supportive. Maybe some of them have attended a Facebook release party before and know how confusing they can be.

Planning a Facebook party sounds like it should be uber-simple. Buy a few items to offer as giveaways and hold drawings to, uh, give them away. Oh, but a release party should take longer than five minutes. The host/hostess needs to stay right in the middle of things, asking questions, making comments, and providing interesting information. Anything to keep the party in motion.

At least a Facebook party doesn’t require real food.

Kathleen and I did my release party this past Thursday night.  Several days earlier, she spent no telling how long writing a suggested script for the evening and sent it to me. One of the many wonderful things about Kathleen is I can edit and add to her suggestions without offending her. She’d made a GREAT start, but I had additional ideas that took about two-and-a-half hours to put into a Word document.

Then we hashed through it together at lunchtime, and I made a few additional changes. We were as ready as we were going to be.

Who would come? Only God knew. Would we retain our sanity while trying to inspire and entertain party goers? Only God knew that, too.

I’m happy to say we survived the party and enjoyed “talking” with our six attendees–four other authors and two “civilians.” We gave away four prizes. Fortunately, the non-authors both won something as well as two of the authors.

Was it worth it? Hard to say. Will we do a party for the next book? Probably.

Jesus may not have been talking about book sales when He said, “You don’t have what you want because you haven’t asked God for it” (Bruner translation of the Bible). Nonetheless, we’re praying with as much faith as we can muster, “We want Rosa No-Name to bless as many lives as possible. We’re asking You to help sell thousands of copies. We’ll do whatever marketing You want us to do, but we’re depending on You for the results. P.S. Not our will, but Yours be done.”

Have you ever attended a Facebook event? What did you think of it? How about leaving a comment?

 

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

Bombarded!

Every few days my wife turns to me and asks if I saw something particular about one of our friends or acquaintances on Facebook. Although it’s usually something I’m interested in and wish I’d seen, I have to admit to her that–as usual–I failed to see it.

Facebook is a wonderful way to keep in touch with friends and family and to make new friends. I can’t deny that. Nor can I express anything but appreciation for the friends from many years past that I’ve caught up with on Facebook–people I wouldn’t have had any chance of locating and catching up with otherwise.

Whether they’re  former students or co-workers, people I used to know from former churches, or even a friend I’d gone on a mission trip to Australia with but had lost total contact with, my life would be vastly less interesting.

Maybe even lonelier.

So why don’t I pay more attention to Facebook?

Before I try to answer that, I need to admit that I’m that way about other electronic media, too. I have a Pinterest account. A LinkedIn account as well. Originally I posted some pictures on Pinterest, but now I totally ignore it. If I get a contact request from LinkedIn, I’m apt to confirm it. After all, my blog posts go there, and those people are potential readers of my books. Otherwise, why am I there?

And Twitter? Oh, wow! I don’t know why many of the people who choose to follow me do so, but I’ve met a few really interesting people that way. Sure is embarrassing, though, to admit to someone who’s apparently well known that I’ve never heard of them before. Only a few of the people I follow back respond, and I can’t think of more than one or two Tweeters whose names I can even remember. Nope, Twitter gets ignored, too.

But email is the biggie. I normally get several hundred messages a day–and that’s not counting the ones that automatically go to the Junk folder. When I check email, I typically “Select All” and then go down the list, unchecking those I’m really going to have to look at. I delete the ones that are still checked–and that’s apt to be 80-90% of them–and THEN read the few that are left.

Please don’t think I hate people, even though I might sound that way. Some of you have read the post I wrote about being an introvert. Not a shy introvert, but one who tires easily from being around more than a handful of people, and those people must be close to me at that. When I’m in a crowd, I can’t wait to escape.

I think that’s why I feel the way I do about electronic media. In my solitary lifestyle–I’m home by myself most of the day–I’m not apt to seek electronic company. Being bombarded with it is just too much. It’s apt to tire me just as much as being among a crowd of “real” people.

But I do enjoy the company of the select few.

I receive Facebook notices in my email, and I don’t mind those, no matter who they’re from. In fact, I’m happy to respond to them. But at least those are things that relate to me personally.

If I weren’t an author who’s always seeking more readers, I wouldn’t feel under such pressure to deal appropriately with the social media. Although we’re advised not to use the e-media just to make sales pitches, publishers expect authors to have a huge number of media followers.

What about you? Is keeping up with email and social media too much, too? Do you feel bombarded? How about leaving a comment?

NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

Taking a Stand…or a Chance?

IMG_3156    Img_3157    Img_3180

Today I took a public stand on something controversial. Not my normal thing to do, I can assure you.

With other members of my church, I attended a pro-marriage rally outside the Richmond Court of Appeals while lawyers inside debated the legality of gay marriage. I even held one of the signs made available to rally-ers.

I took a number of pictures with my little Canon pocket camera, came home and edited them, and posted them on Facebook. I concluded my album heading with these words: “I believe strongly in what the Bible teaches, but I recognize and accept the right of others to express an opposing opinion.”

Within minutes I received a strong opposing comment from a gay Facebook friend. Because I respect this fellow as a human being without regard to his sexual orientation, I had hesitated to even post the album in the first place. I knew I would be taking a chance of alienating him and a couple of other people who are even closer to me than he is.

I concluded that the best way to validate my beliefs is by sharing them. Fearlessly, but respectfully. Why should I have to be afraid of alienating others by simply stating what I believe? Especially when I’m not putting them down in the process?

Please note that one of the pictures above shows some rally-ers from the “other side.” This post is NOT about homosexuality per se, but about freedom of speech. And about being true to one’s convictions.

Please take a look at my Facebook album and tell me if you think I’m wrong to exert my freedom of speech the way I have. But even if you think I’m far-right wrong, I’d like to think we can disagree respectfully.

I promise to respect your opinion, anyhow.

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Please leave a comment if something in this post has spoken to you. I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

By the way, “On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I use “As I Come Singing”check it out here—to post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. Check here to see the list.

Best regards,
Roger

The Facebook in the Mirror (Part Two)

Jenny     Southern Fried Sushi book cover           

If you missed my previous post, The Facebook in the Mirror, you might want to read it before you read this post. I gave several examples of how Facebook has helped me to reconnect with my past, and this one will give several additional examples.

After graduating from college in 1968, I taught junior high English for six-plus years. I thought the kids were great, but the demands on my free time were a real drag. And—years later when I took the Myers-Briggs Inventory—I learned that I am a confirmed introvert.

Not “introvert” as in “very shy person.” But as in “energized by being by myself or among a VERY small group of close friends and totally worn out by being around people in general.” Hmm. Not good for a teacher.

When I discovered Facebook, I couldn’t keep from wondering what had become of my former students. I’m not pretending I could remember all of them—I had trouble remembering some names from the current school year. But I tried one name—I don’t remember who was first—and hit pay dirt.

And—lo and behold—he or she accepted my friend request and seemed genuinely happy to hear from me.

I tried more and more. When I couldn’t remember more names, I checked the friends list of the ones I’d been able to friend and sent many of them friend requests. I’ve ended up with quite a list, and I’m thrilled to report that at least one of them became a teacher. But even more amazing, some of my former students actually credited me with having taught them something.

Truly amazing. I didn’t feel that great about my teaching.

One of my former students is Tom. The top right pictures are Tom then and now. He’s lived and worked in Colombia (yes, the country in South America) for a number of years. He writes poetry and is a chef at his own restaurant. And—doggone it!—he beats the pants off me in Words with Friends. I learned recently that he was responsible for getting a poem of mine published in a free local magazine during the mid-seventies.

Tom is  a reconnect I highly value.

The other Facebook reconnect I want to mention today was a young lady (I call her my sister) who went on the same mission trip I did in 2000 to the Olympics in Sydney, Australia. Jenny and I both worked at the same place and were sitting beside one another when we heard about the mission trip to Oz. I still have a picture of us returning on the train from a day trip to Sydney, both of us snoozing, her head innocently on my shoulder.

We lost track of one another when she went to Japan as a Journeyman missionary (two-year program for recent college graduates). A few years later, one of her former co-workers told me Jenny had married a Brazilian and moved to Brazil.

How does a guy track down his missing “sister” when she’s that far away and he doesn’t even know her married name?

Facebook, of course. When we reconnected, it was like we’d never been apart.

But what makes our story special is Jenny had spent some of her free time in Brazil writing her first novel. I asked her to email it to me, and my wife and I had a great time reading it.

In fact, it was so good I had her write a proposal for me to forward to my publisher. That resulted in a three-book contract for Jenny’s Southern Fried Sushi series. If you don’t know much about writing and publishing, let me share this: practically nobody gets a contract for a first novel from the first publisher she submits a proposal to.

You’ll see Jenny with a toothbrush in her mouth on the train ride to Sydney and the cover of her first novel to Tom’s left at the top of the page.

Facebook has helped me to look into the mirror and see some wonderful parts of my past, along with the chance to bring certain aspects of the past up to date.

If you have any special Facebook or Twitter tales to share, I’d love to hear them. Just leave a comment.

Best regards,
Roger

The Facebook in the Mirror (Part One)

 Flatlanders     RogerWillSinging

To fully appreciate today’s topic, you need to understand a few things about my background. If you find it boring, that’s because I am boring. But that’s a topic for another day.

I grew up the only child of a Christian minister. Because my parents adopted me directly from the hospital back in the olden days, I know absolutely nothing about my birth parents except the fact they were artistic (but who knows in what way?) and had an eastern European heritage. I don’t even know their medical history.

My parents both died during the latter 1900s, and I have only a handful of relatives left. I barely know the ones on my father’s side, and I don’t even know where the ones on my mother’s side are, even though they theoretically live in the same city I do.

In short, I’m a sixty-seven-year-old orphan who’s extremely thankful to have such a sweet and loving wife. But that’s not what this post is about, either.

I’ve had plenty of friends over the years, but—with moves from state to state and city to city and even from church to church—I’ve lost touch with most of them.

What’s happened to my past?

When I first discovered Facebook, I couldn’t imagine what a gold mine it would prove to be. At first, I only friended the people who belonged to my current life.

But then I caught on that Facebook could be a window to my past. Sure, not everyone I used to know was on Facebook, and sometimes the women didn’t include their maiden names in their profile names. But I started to catch up with people I thought I’d never see or hear from again.

Two examples.

I sang with Will in a folk trio in the early 1960s. That’s us in the left-hand picture at the top of this post. I moved away after graduation in 1964. I saw him again once during the 1980s, but lost track of him again soon thereafter.

But—lo and behold—I had no trouble locating him on Facebook, and we got together for a wonderful afternoon of catching up this past September. He still had the same guitar he’d had in our folk singing days (I’d been through many guitars since then), and we lumbered our way through the song I’d written as our theme song—the first song among more than two hundred. That’s one of our reunion photos at the right.

The second example.

Sally was a friend in high school. We didn’t exactly date, although she came with me a time or two to the folk trio’s performances. I saw her once during the summer of 1965, and then she proceeded to pass out of my memory for many years.

When I thought about Sally again and found her on Facebook, I learned that she now lives in the same city my wife and I live in, and the three of us have gotten together a number of times now. She’s not only become one of my novels’ biggest fans, but has purchased copies to give away.

I can only shake my head in amazement. And deep appreciation.

When I first entered the world of personal computing, Facebook and Twitter didn’t exist. In fact, what I thought of a personal computer was actually a terminal connected to one of the Digital VAX minicomputers in the Arctic-frigid computer room.

Now it’s truly personal—all the way to my smart phone and my Kindle Fire.

I have several other tales to share about my experiences with Facebook, but I’ll save them for Part Two of this topic.

Please leave a comment. Are you a Facebook user? Have you found any missing friends that way? Do you have any special stories to share? I’d love to hear them.

Best regards,
Roger