Pat Patterson Openly Gay and WWE; Social Media Pressure, Gay Porn, and Racism; Tom Daley and THAT Other Swimmer Make Headlines

Pat Patterson Openly Gay and WWE

Here’s a really good article about the life of Pat Patterson, and what it was like to be at the top of his game as a pro wrestler, and gay.  It’s another one that breaks the stereotypes. There are a lot of guys out there like Patterson.

Nearly 20 years after he first arrived in the U.S., Patterson reached the pinnacle of his career in 1979 when, aged 38, he was crowned the World Wide Wrestling Federation’s inaugural Intercontinental Champion. To this day, that championship remains one of the most prestigious in the organization that later became World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). What most in the wrestling world didn’t realize, however, was that the new champion was gay.

The rest is here.  I know there are many important points in this article about Patterson and his life, but I also think that part about stereotypes is important to all of us. So that we know not to stereotype gay men into any specific category.

Social Media Pressure, Gay Porn, and Racism

As the heading suggests, this is a highly controversial topic for some. I think it also gives a fairly accurate example of the more questionable sides of the porn industry and porn stars.  

In the past, scenes featuring gay porn stars who have committed statutory rape and even murder (Mike Dozer and Sean Cody’s Addison, respectively) have not been pulled down from studios’ websites, even after news of their convictions spread. And in my nine years of reporting on the gay-adult industry, a studio (let alone two studios) has never removed or canceled content due to a performer’s personal beliefs—that is, until now.

So what made Diggs special? White men with sexual “preferences” working in gay porn is nothing new. But thanks to social media and industry blogs, those “preferences” are being exposed, shared, shamed, and retweeted to such an extent that studios can no longer pretend to be oblivious.

You can check out the rest here. It’s a fairly in-depth piece. It gets into sexual preferences and racism, which is a topic that’s becoming increasingly popular these days. They mention hook up apps and talk about whether or not sexual preference is a form of racism. It’s…well…interesting.

There’s nothing lewd or sexual about the article, but I don’t think the web site for this one is SFW. You’ve been warned.

Tom Daley and THAT Other Swimmer Make Headlines

Of course my heading for this is sarcastic. I figured I’d better mention that for those who have been deprived of a sense of humor.

This pretty much says it all…

Tom Daley, Great Britain‘s openly gay diving champion, was front-page news across the U.K. after he and his synchronized diving partner Daniel Goodfellow won the bronze medal at the Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

But in what is an ironic twist on the shameful past practice of cropping out gay athletes from mainstream media, most of the British papers focused their coverage not on the pair but solely on Daley.

It also happened on Twitter. I saw it myself while it was trending. I kept wondering who the other dude was…with all due respect to Tom Daley. It’s not Daley’s fault. The media has been doing this for years with every minority. I’m not shocked. It’s a good example of how little you can trust these days in the media.

You can check this one out here. 

Exploring the gay open relationship in…


Valley of the Dudes

Facebook Bash: Time Magazine; Free Excerpt Women Who Love Gay Romance

Facebook Bash: Time Magazine

I’ve posted a few things about facebook and how I’m curious about the future of all social media. But I’ve never actually drawn any conclusions because I think it’s still too soon to do that with social media, especially as more and more people of all ages begin to navigate the web. And now with the recent announcement about how Facebook stock has grown, I think it’s even more important to tread with care when making any predictions. Evidently, Time writer, Ben Barjarin, doesn’t agree with me, and the predictions he made about facebook last June show how dangerous it is to try to predict the future of social media. And I have a feeling Mark Zuckerberg is smiling widely right now.

The article to which I’m referring is titled, “Why Am I Still on Facebook?” And you can read it in full here.  It starts out with positive comments about facebook and family and how wonderful facebook used to be as a way to keep in touch with people, and then devolves into an interesting commentary about how facebook has changed and how Ben Barjarin thinks it won’t even be around five years from now.

No predictions from me. Maybe facebook won’t be around five years from now. But I think Barjarin is wrong with this statement:

Given the nature of why people use Facebook — to stay in touch with friends and family — it seems that this is the worst possible place for ads and sponsored posts. I go to Facebook to keep up to date with people I rarely or never see anymore, not to look for products or promotions.

I’ll be the first to admit that I hate online ads of any kind, especially the video ads that start speaking to me when I go to a web site. However, last month I found a trunk organizer thanks to a facebook ad. I ordered it and love it. I also recently helped Corey Booker in his bid for the senate through facebook. I get a good deal of my news information from facebook…mostly from local news channels and reputable publications I know I can trust. During hurricane Sandy last October facebook was one of my main means of communication when I didn’t have power for over one full week. So for me, facebook is not about staying in touch with friends and family. Frankly I honestly don’t really care about their vacations and trips to the park, or what they had for dinner. I want information from facebook, and I want it fast. And I think Barjarin’s view on why we use social media is extremely limited.

The other thing he fails to mention…or doesn’t even realize yet…is that younger people are not watching TV and they are also getting their information from facebook.

This is also an interesting comment in the article:

Magazines, for example, are a much better place. When I read a magazine, like Digital Photography, I am a captive reader with a specific interest in digital photography. Therefore, that is the best place for companies within the digital-photography space to pitch me about useful products related to digital photography that I may interested in. This is the power of targeted advertising.

The reason it’s interesting is because magazines, especially Time Magazine, are losing readership these days faster than the Titanic went down. I still get Architectural Digest and the ads in there have also dwindled. Of course Barjarin isn’t going to mention this because his post is pro-magazine and that’s not the spin he’s using this time. And while I have nothing against print magazines, they have fallen off my own personal radar in the past few years to the point where I throw my copy of Time Magazine out most weeks because I’ve already read the content online. And, many of the articles I’ve already read I found through facebook, Twitter, or some other social media source.

And at this particular point, I think it’s very dangerous to make predictions about facebook or any other social media outlet. What I do think we all have to do is regulate our own social media needs and figure out what we want and need most from social media. In my case, it’s information and communication. I also think social media in general will be around for a long time.

Free Excerpt Women Who Love Gay Romance

The indie anthology I’m releasing sometime next week, The Women Who Love to Love Gay Romance, is moving along well and I wanted to post a free excerpt today to show readers how good some of these contributing authors are. This excerpt is actually from a New Adult romance by author Bella Stanberry, titled, “My BFF and Her Boyfriend.” It is one of three short stories in the book…the first story in a trilogy that follows the unique lives of three new adults: a gay man, a bi-sexual man, and a straight woman.

I still haven’t finalized the cover yet, but that’s coming soon.

The other day my mom started talking about my younger brother and his new girlfriend. We were on the phone; this isn’t new.

It was one of those weekly chats where my mom rambles on as if she’s taken too many Lyrica pills for her bad knee and I’m on the depressing single bed in my dorm room in my underwear scratching my sack, nodding and saying yes the entire time. It’s a process; a ritual. And the less I disagree with her the faster I get off the phone.

It’s not as if she’s unhappy with me being gay. When I came out to my folks the summer after I graduated from high school they took it fairly well. They didn’t jump up and down and sing show tunes. They barely even smiled. We were in the kitchen and they remained silent for a long time while they processed the information. But they finally said what most liberal parents of college age kids say when they are faced with a child coming out of the closet: “We’re fine with this as long as you’re happy. And please practice safe sex at all times.”

In other words, they would have preferred it if I were straight, but they could learn to live with me being gay, in time. I’ve often wondered if they ever told my straight brother to have safe sex at all times. Did they mention to him that straight dudes can get cancer from cunnilingus because of the HPV virus if they aren’t careful? I never actually asked them these questions because I thought it might be too confrontational. I was so happy they didn’t freak out on me when I told them I was gay I took what I could get and hugged and kissed them both.

It’s been three years since that conversation and I’m a junior in college. My dad rarely mentions my gay lifestyle aloud. My mom has grown to accept me and she’s taken it upon herself to offer suggestions about meeting gay guys. She’s read all the books on how to be a great gay mom. When she begins these conversations, she always heads it off with a hint about my younger brother’s girlfriends. She seems to think that we all need to be paired off as couples in life, and that no one single ever lived a full or authentic life…gay or straight. And I just smile and nod while she speaks, looking at my watch, and wondering how she would react if I told her the truth.

Sometimes I play the imaginary conversation over and over in my head, wondering how she might reply if I did tell the truth. It would probably go like this:

My Mom would say, “You really should get out more and meet a nice young gay man. I’m sure there are plenty of them where you go to school.”

I would smile and say, “I’m already in a relationship, mom. I haven’t mentioned it because it’s a little unusual. I’m not sure you’d understand it.”

She would remain silent for a moment, and then ask, “What do you mean unusual?” I’m sure she would be wondering what could be more unusual than two men sleeping with each other.

“It’s different,” I would say. “It’s not conventional.”

She would become frustrated and ask, “Oh please. How different could it be?”

I would take a deep breath, exhale, and say, “I met a nice couple.”

“A couple of what?” she would ask.

After another deep breath, I would say, “I met this couple. A guy and a girl. And I’ve been seeing them both for the last several months. We’re all very fond of each other. I think you’d like them.”

Then there would be dead silence, and I would hear a crash on the other end of the line. My dad would come rushing into the room to see what had happened and I would overhear him asking my mom, “Oh my God, Joanne. What’s wrong? Why did you pass out?”

Bu these are only fantasies I replay in my head sometimes, because I’m not sure when I’ll ever tell my mom about this relationship. I don’t think she would understand, and I’m not even sure I fully understand what I’m doing with another couple half of the time. Maybe it’s a generational thing. People my age seem to be doing things a little differently than generations before them. But I could be wrong about that. Maybe we’re just doing it more openly.

This all began a few months ago. I belong to a gym a few miles from school and I go there to work out with my best friend, Gina, four or five times a week. But I should backtrack a little first. I met Gina my freshman year of college in a registration line while waiting to be approved for a history class we both wanted to take that semester. Gina was standing in front of me in line, tapping her black pumps with six inch heels and looking at her watch. I noticed her large breasts and her expensive seven shades of long blond hair. She noticed my tight jeans and my large biceps. At first, she flirted with me and I took this as a compliment. It was even more of a compliment when I mentioned I was gay and she didn’t blow me off. We started talking about how frustrating it was to get anything accomplished during registration week and found out we both had a lot in common, especially when it came to men. We started whispering about the hot guy in front of us and we’ve been best friends ever since that day. I even used to joke around that if I weren’t gay Gina would be the woman I would marry.

I had no idea how true these words would one day be.

At the beginning of our junior year Gina met a guy named Luke at the gym. I wasn’t there that night. I was in my dorm doing what I always do at the beginning of a new semester: trying to organize my schedule and working hard not to freak out about taking on eighteen credits that semester. And while I was kicking myself for taking that extra film course on Thursday evenings, wondering how I would deal with all the reading from the English class, Gina was in Luke’s Corvette giving him head in the parking lot of the gym. I will never forget the elated tone in her voice when she phoned me at midnight and told me what had happened with Luke.

Sex Makes Us 10 Years Younger; Paying for Facebook

Sex Makes You 10 Years Younger

When I spotted this article last night, I found a few things about it interesting. The basic premise revolves around a ten year study conducted by a psychologist in the UK about how regular sex can help stop the aging process and help make us live longer. But you have to do it (sex) at least three times a week to gain the benefits, according to this study. And more important, you have to actually like doing it. You can’t fake it.

Weeks says pleasure from the act is a “crucial factor” in preserving youth.

It’s good for the heart, too.

“[T]he quality of sexual expression maintained in older adults is a predictor of good general health and well-being,” he said. “In a Welsh heart disease study from 1997, the mortality risk was 50 per cent lower in the group of men with high orgasmic frequency (twice a week or more) than in the group with low frequency.”

But, like with all good things in life, there is a catch. According to the study, regular sex with a consistent partner is really where you’ll get most of the benefits. So regular tricking doesn’t count (if you don’t know what tricking is you can look it up on Urban Dictionary). On the other hand those who get into kink have a mental health advantage over those who stick to the basics. 

Practitioners of bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism (BDSM) have been shown to have better mental health than those less kinky.

I’m sure many are wondering about whether or not self-pleasure falls into any of the categories of the study. The article didn’t get into that, at least not from what I read. But I don’t see how it could hurt a person either.

Paying for Facebook

This was an interesting piece from the unofficial facebook blog by Twitter Co-founder, Biz Stone. I’ve seen Stone in interviews, and he’s actually very articulate and seems to know what he’s talking about…without the BS we normally see from social media types who always seem to sound so desperate.

Despite the fact that Facebook has repeatedly stressed that it will never charge for its service, suggestions to that effect emerge constantly, and the latest came from Twitter Co-Founder Biz Stone, who wrote in a post on his blog that if the social network launched a Facebook Premium service for $10 per month, and 10 percent of its user base signed up, $1 billion in monthly revenue would be generated.

I think the word “if” here is the most important. And not “if” facebook did this, but more along the lines of “if” anyone would be willing to pay anything per month to be in facebook. Frankly, after working with high end clients in the art world for many years, I think that in order for this to work FB would have to charge something more like $100.00 per month to get that extremely wealthy crowd to pay up so they can tell everyone they pay for an ad-free facebook. In other words, it would be more like a status thing, like the way some of the wealthier pay $400.00 an hour fees to consultants to organize their children’s play dates.

But the basic concept of a premium ad-free facebook is interesting, and it might help offset some of the issues facebook has been dealing with lately. What’s even more interesting is that businesses based on the ad concept don’t seem to be working out as well as everyone thought they would. I’ve read where many online newspapers and magazines are thinking of charging subscriptions. If anything, I think most people resist clicking ads on facebook or any other social media on purpose. I know I go out of my way to avoid any web sites where pop up ads appear the moment you get there, especially those that start speaking to me. And trust me, if you ever click on an ad on facebook, that thing you were so curious about is going to follow you around the Internet for the next six months.

But I think the majority of people right now like (and expect) everything online to be free. Once the customer is trained it’s hard to break the old habits. I learned that from owning a small art gallery for years. The majority of people who came through my store were under the impression that I was like WalMart or Target, and that was far from the case. My average price point was about $1,000.00 and my personal restroom in the gallery was not for the public unless they were buying customers. But you’d be amazed at how many would sneak into the rest room behind my back. And when I confronted them about it they would reply with entitlement, as if I owed them the use of my restroom because retail outlets like Target have public restrooms. That’s only a small example of what I had to deal with when it came to what the public expects from all retail outlets, large or small. And I think the same sense of entitlement applies to online web sites as well.

I almost posted about a very interesting article today, but when I saw it was from Publisher’s Weekly I declined. You have to subscribe to PW to get the content, and the article…or anything else in PW…isn’t important enough for me to pay at this particular time in my life. All I have to do is cross reference a little and I can come up with the same basic info somewhere else for free. In the same respect, I think we’ll all eventually be paying subscriptions for online content whether we like it or not.

Photo attribution, wiki commons.

Cover Preview: The Actor Learning to Love; Patricia Nell Warren Honored; New Social Network "Pheed"

Here’s the next cover for a book in the Bad Boy Billionaire series, “The Actor Learning to Love.” If you notice, in the background they’ve added the Twin Towers as part of the New York Skyline. I requested that on purpose because one of the most emotional parts of this story has to do with the World Trade Center attacks on 9/11/2001. It’s the first time I’ve ever done a book with anything like this, and it brought back a lot of memories I don’t like to revisit. Though the majority of the book takes place in the present, the back story involving the Twin Towers features as highly significant to how the main character lives today. I’ll post more as I get closer to a release date, and below is the blurb in its rawest form before publication, as I submitted it to the publisher.

When single dad, Rory, and his young son, Dane, find themselves divorced and moving to a new apartment in New York once again, Rory is determined to focus on nothing more than his son and his career as a professional cabaret pianist/singer…he’s finished with gay marriage and men altogether. He’s tired of getting dumped, he’s tired of moving, and he’s tired of starting over.

In order to save money, he takes up an offer to live rent-free in a high-end apartment on Beekman Place for one year, as a caretaker and pet sitter for a famous celebrity’s talking pet parrot. The apartment is a dream, the schools are great for his son, and his son forms an immediate bond with the talking parrot. The only problem is the parrot curses with a Croatian accent and the entire living arrangement turns out to be a set-up that threatens the one thing Rory loves most in this world: his son.

When the bad boy celebrity, Drew Steiger, decides to move back to his apartment it’s too late for Rory to make other plans. Although Rory has no idea Drew has an ulterior motive that involves something hidden in Rory’s past, all three form a bond none of them ever expected. Only a deep dark secret that happened during the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center finally catches up with Rory and he’s left wondering what to do once again.

But more than that, will Rory be able to deal with Drew’s mood swings, his temper tantrums, and his disregard for everyone? And will Drew finally come to terms with a secret of his own that’s been haunting him for over ten years?

LGBT Literary Pioneer Patricia Nell Warren

The Lambda Literary Foundation is having an event to honor the pioneers of LGBT literature called OUTWRITE. The event will take place on Saturday, April 27, at the West Hollywood Public Library. Tickets are $85 and are on sale now, where you can purchase them at the link I’m providing below. Among the guests included will be author of “The Front Runner,” one of my own personal favorites, Patricia Nell Warren.

Patricia Nell Warren – prodigious author, activist and journalist, known best for her novels The Front Runner, The Fancy Dancer and The Beauty Queen, the first of which inspired the gay and lesbian running clubs entitled FrontRunners across the nation. Warren has served as a constant inspiration to generations of LGBT writers.

She has, indeed, inspired me as a writer. “The Front Runner” was actually the first gay novel I ever read, and by then it had been out for a while. But, she’s also inspired generations of readers, too. You can read more about this event here at the LLF web site. I’ve posted about her, but I’ve yet to review “The Front Runner,” which is something I plan to rectify in the near future.

New Social Network “Pheed”

Grab your smelling salts, because there’s now a brand new social media network out called “Pheed.” You can check it out here, where they are promoting it as “A New Way To Express Yourself.” Frankly, I think some should start thinking about how to tone down the ways they express themselves these days. But what do I know?

So far, the best explanation I came up with in a simple search for Pheed was wiki:

Pheed provides users with a unified platform for sharing all forms of digital content which includes text, photo, audio clips, voice notes, video, and live broadcast. Users can subscribe to other users’ channels and view their subscribed channels’ content in real time; they can ‘love’ or ‘heartache’ specific pheeds, hashtag and ‘pheedback,’ as well as share content from others’ channels to their own via a feature called ‘remix’ similar to a retweet. Users can search content via hashtags, and limit their search with filters that allow them to view specific content types (i.e. only photos, only videos, etc.).[

It sounds a little complicated, but I’m sure like most new social media it’s not as complicated as it sounds. I will check it out myself, and I might even join because I’m prone to be addicted to these things. I’m on foursquare daily and I’m still not sure why…at least not completely. I once got a free cupcake from a low end bakery, and a free cannoli from a cheesy restaurant. I’m still twirling my finger and yawning. But for the most part, foursquare is something that I do to freak a few local friends out by getting a lot of points in the middle of the night while they are sleeping.

The most interesting thing is that Pheed is monetized.

What differentiates it from other players in the space–aside from the fact that it seemingly streamlines the functionalities of companies like Kik and YouTube into a single service–is that it allows users to directly monetize their content. Users can opt to erect a paywall, charging anywhere from $1.99 to $34.99 monthly, or $1.99 to $34.99 per view of a specific piece of content.

But it’s not all about the monetization. “We’re by no means a premium website,” Mr. Kobo stressed. “We’re a website that simply offers the ability to monetize some things. If you want to share photos or do a live broadcast, monetization is simply a feature. We think it’s fair. We think it’s about time that content providers should own and monetize their content and not the platforms.”

I’m starting to see this in other places. And frankly, I’m not sure there’s a pragmatic way to avoid it…as the Internet continues to grow.

I honestly don’t know enough about Pheed at this point to comment, but it does look different from other social media we’ve seen so far…in a more sophisticated way that takes social media to another level of sleek, for lack of a better word right now. I once posted about how the TV industry was so primitive back in the 1950’s and as it grew it became more professional all the way around. I think we’re beginning to see signs of this happening with the Internet, and there’s no turning back. Personally, I plan to move forward with each thing that comes along.

Free Social Media Tips for Authors…Plus Advice from Anne R. Allen

I mention the word free in the title because I’ve heard there are companies who guarantee increased sales results if you pay them to show you how to work with social media in order to market and promote books. Or, some claim they can do it for you. From what I’ve heard, they promise to make you the next bestseller…for a fee of course.

The only thing I can say about that is that if it sounds too good to be true it probably is. And, if these things actually worked wouldn’t everyone be doing it? Maybe I’m too cynical, but I’ve seen too many “too good to be true” scams over the years and I’ve learned through my own mistakes.

So when I see free advice being given by people I consider reputable, I try to pass it along. The articles to which I’m linking below are all things I’ve done (or have not done) in the past by learning them the hard way…mostly by trial and error…and there’s really nothing I can disagree with. I would also like to add that not every piece of advice will work for every individual author. In most cases you have to figure out a plan that’s right for you, and a plan you think you can handle without becoming overwhelmed. If you’re like me and you enjoy social media, it makes things easier. If you don’t enjoy it, you’ll have to figure out a way to embrace at least something. While I don’t think social media overkill helps, I do think in this day and age of all things cyber authors have to build some kind of an online presence. In fact, I think that’s far more important now than book signings and traveling to events, for some authors.

How Do Authors Reach Readers?

Today we have a visit from one of my favorite online author-friends. I knew her even before her name was Roni Loren 🙂 Roni is an awesome blogger who always has something innovative and thoughtful to say at her blog for the Fearless Romantic. She’s become a bestselling author for Berkley Heat through her smart use of social media, so this is market-tested advice. My experience with Twitter and Facebook mirrors hers. I much prefer Twitter, but the readers seem to be on Facebook.

This is a guest post on Anne R. Allen’s blog I literally found by accident. I highly recommend reading anything on this blog about social media because Anne co-wrote an excellent self-pubbed book this past year with bestselling author, Catherine Ryan Hyde, titled, “How to be a Writer in the E-Age.” I reviewed the book here. And Anne’s blog is also one of the top 50 blogs for authors. In this case, I don’t think you can go wrong.

Is Social Media the Magic Bullet to Promote Your Self-Published Book?

I don’t think there is much of a difference between authors with small start up e-presses and self-published authors anymore, so that’s why I’m linking to articles related to self-pubbed authors. They’re all doing basically the same thing now: publishing e-books. When it comes to marketing and book promotion with small e-presses, you’re basically in the same position as the self-published author. Small e-presses are excellent if you’re not comfortable with the details and business end of self-publishing, or you can’t format, but you’re still going to have to do all the promotion and marketing on your own when the book is published, like it or not.

Eight Tips for Self-Published Indie Authors

It’s not about saying ‘Buy my book’; ‘Look at this review about my book; ‘Here’s why you’d like my book’.

Again, everything in this post can be applied to authors with small start up e-presses. And for those authors with small e-presses who think you’re too grand for reading anything relating to indie authors, take a closer look at what you’re actually doing. And like I said earlier, not everything is going to work for every author and you’ll have to figure out what works best for you. But I think this article gives a realistic approach, and doesn’t freak authors out too much.

Eleven Deadly Sins of Online Promotion for Writers 

This one is interesting because it talks about what not to do. And believe me, I’ve seen a few train wrecks with authors and social media.

Never dedicate every single social media post of your life to your writing. If you’re on social networks, be social. That is, act like a human being who does human being things—as opposed to an all-promotion, all-the-time automaton.

I’d also like to add that getting too political can be really annoying and offensive. During the last Presidential election I can’t tell you how many people I hid from my news feed because of their political rants. I really don’t care about your politics unless you’re actively involved in politics and giving up your money and your time. Unless you’re Barry Eisler, and you really know how to post about politics in a smart, educated, informed way like only Barry Eisler can do, I think it’s better to just stay away from it altogether. It stands to reason at the most basic level: you’re trying to get people to buy your books and that’s not going to happen if they don’t agree with your politics. In fact, they might hold it against you forever.

Another thing I don’t like seeing is “cute.” It’s hard to really explain this one. You usually know it when you see it. The gag reflex kicks in. Seriously, there’s only so many times you can rescue that puppy or save that basket of kittens before people start to wonder. I guess this falls into the category of “keep it real.” If you don’t, it’s going to start to show sooner or later. Also, remember you’re dealing with people who live in different parts of the country…or world…not just in your own small town. In other words, you don’t want to sound as if you’ve just hopped off the back of a turnip truck to someone in New York or Philadelphia…unless that’s a goal you’re trying to achieve.

10 Topics Writers Should Talk About When Promoting Their Book Online

Create an account for your main character. This is especially useful if you write a series that evolves around a single character. Create accounts for your character and engage the character in public conversation—author to creation. The results can not only be entertaining but can also go viral very quickly helping you gain momentum with your social media endeavors.

This article isn’t for everyone, and neither is the advice. Just based on number one above, if I did this I would have so many main character accounts I’d never be able to keep up with them. And, I actually did try this once with a hetero romance book I wrote with a pen name for the Home Shopping Network, title “Loving Daylight.” I gave the main character his own facebook page and it was a huge waste of time. It was not only creepy, but because the character was a vampire I had to write facebook posts after dark all summer that year. I learned my lesson that time by trial and error. However, if you are an author with one or two books out, this sort of thing might work for you. On that I can’t comment.

Ask for opinions and input. One of the best ways to really engage your followers is to ask for their input for something like naming a new character. Your followers will be more than willing to pitch in with the possibility of having their ideas used and if you do use their ideas, be sure to publicize it—they will be the first person in line to buy your book!

I’ve seen this before and it might work for some authors, so I’m not saying don’t do it. However, I happen to come from the school where the author works alone and owns his or her work. In other words, I love hearing suggestions from readers and I love input as well. But I work alone. In the same respect I actually named the MC, “Wilbur,” in “My Fair Laddie,” after a facebook discussion with LGBT book reviewer, Amos Lassen. I didn’t solicit his opinion, and he wasn’t offering it. We were just discussing character names and Amos mentioned that “Wilbur” was a character name he’d never seen. And I thought it would be a perfect name for the MC in the book.

Social Media Mistake All Authors Should Avoid

The key, in the early stages of your career, is to focus on becoming an expert in only one or two social media channels, such as Twitter and Facebook, plus an author blog.

Quality, not quantity is the rule here: If you take time to learn how to become highly adept at just a couple of channels to begin with, you’ll be far more effective at attracting attention and growing your readership, than by opening up 15 different channels and trying to use them all at once, without developing any effective user skills.

From what I gather here, it’s more important to take it slowly than it is to jump into every single social media network and crash and burn. So far, Twitter and Facebook seem to be the most popular social media outlets, and they can be daunting at best for a beginner. I would recommend facebook over twitter for those who know nothing about social media. On facebook you get more freedom, where on twitter you have to come up with a way to express a limited amount of information. And it’s not easy getting followers.

Blogging can be an excellent way to connect with readers, too. But don’t expect miracles at first. Blogging takes time, and sometimes you’ll never figure out why some posts are more popular than others. I’m still getting over a thousand hits a day for a post I wrote two years ago and I don’t have a clue as to why. I guess that post resonated with people for some reason. Which is why blogging is such a great tool for authors. I get most of my hits through random search engines and I have no idea how I do it or why they find me. This blog is linked to more than a few social media outlets, but the majority of my hits come from all over the world and always through searches, not something I posted about on another social media outlet.

These are only a few articles that offer advice. I saw a few more in my search but didn’t feel comfortable linking to them. But, as I said, there’s no set pattern for anything when it comes to marketing and promoting books with social media. It seems to work differently for all authors and what works for one might not work for another. The secret is figuring out what works best for you. And that’s going to take time, so don’t try to rush it.

You’d Better Change Your Twitter Photo Header

If you have a Twitter account and you like it to look a certain way, you’d better get there tonight. Because according to this article Twitter will change it for you by December the 12th and you’re not going to like the way it looks.

“Twitter started rolling out its Facebook-a-like header photos to profiles back in September, and users who haven’t yet implemented this new functionality have until tomorrow (December 12th) to upload a suitable image. Otherwise, Twitter is going to force the change upon you, and you’ll be left with a default grey box. This isn’t permanent – you can change your header photo at any time. But, as Twitter says, the grey background isn’t exactly fun.”

I actually do care about these things. I know some don’t. But I think it’s a reflection of the way you manage all social media…especially if you’re an author and other people are looking at your accounts all the time. And even though Twitter can be difficult when it comes to attracting followers…unless you pay some shifty company to get them for you…the followers will come eventually. You just have to be realistic about it. If you’re E.L. James and you’ve sold millions of books you’ll have more followers. If you’re Betty Jane Author and you’ve sold thousands of books you’ll have less.

I think most of the world doesn’t have twitter, nor do they care about Twitter unless they have a specific reason to be there. I doubt most of my discreet readership deals with Twitter. I’m the only one in my entire circle of friends and family who uses it. And I only do it for work and to get information that might be interesting to blog about. But I still don’t want Twitter giving me a header with an ugly gray background.

Does Grammar Matter On Facebook and Social Media

I have always believed that grammar is not the most important thing when it comes to personal blogging, facebook, and social media. I think social media should be a more relaxed place to go, where we do more socializing than anything else. And no one likes the grammar police. In fact, I’ll take it one more step and state that I don’t really care if something is misspelled when it comes to social media…and that includes blogging. Most mistakes on social media are innocent and we all know the person who makes the mistake most likely knows better anyway.

In the same respect, I have to admit that I’ve been on the fence about this at times. I know authors do tend to pay closer attention to grammar everywhere, not just in books. And I know that a lot of people would disagree with me and say that grammar does matter on social media…especially if you are a writer or a professional of any kind. I actually do proof most of what I do on social media, and if I see that I’ve made a mistake I’ll either apologize for it or I’ll try to fix it. I even do this with comments I’ve left on threads at times.

If you don’t watch these things and you are a writer…or a professional of any kind…you run the risk of looking like an idiot. And that’s as plain and simple as it gets. No one knows how you personally feel about grammar on social media, and if you aren’t careful you might wind up doing something like this:

“In exactly 1 month from this hear day I will be done school and done student teaching!! It’s been a long time coming and a very long time overdo but I can’t not wait to finally be done school!!! I will finally have my teaching certificate and be certified to teach in Pennsylvania!!!! :-D”
This direct quote above was taken from an update on facebook from someone I know personally, but not very well. She’s not an author, and she has no intention of becoming one in the near future. Unfortunately, after reading more than a few issues in that status update, I drew conclusions and formed an immediate opinion about her. Of course I know her back story, but if I didn’t I might have come to the same conclusions just based on the above quote.
She has been studying to be a school teacher…full time…for the past eight years. She has not worked at all. She’s only been working toward a teaching dregree. That alone should tell you something about her. It takes most people four years, full time, to become a school teacher. That’s how long it took my sister, and more than a few friends I know. So if someone is in school full time studying to become a teacher and it takes them eight years, there could be something wrong.
And what’s even worse is that after eight years of studying to be a teacher she can’t even post a basic update on facebook and get the grammar right. If she had been studying anything else I wouldn’t have even noticed this update. But she’s going to be a teacher, and she’s going to be lecturing and speaking this way to kids on a daily basis someday. And when I see something like this I not only wonder what’s going on in teaching school these days, but also what’s going on in our public schools if people like this are allowed to be teachers.
I wish I could say this person knows better and she was just speaking in slang when she said, “I will be done school,” or when she wrote “hear” instead of “here.” But I know for a fact that’s not the case. And now a lot of other people know this, too. She clearly doesn’t know any better. And that’s when I have to wonder whether or not grammar really does matter on social media. As I said, I’m not perfect and I’m sure I make mistakes all the time because I’m fast. And I’m sure that when I’ve made mistakes people have formed opinions about me. But it just doesn’t seem right coming from someone who is going to be teaching kids how to speak, read, and write. So I think I’m going to be paying more attention to what I put out there in the future.

Should Web Site Owners and Social Media Be Held Accountable?

Earlier this week I posted about an incident of Internet crime where a young man allegedly stalked minors on facebook with fake identities and sockpuppet accounts.

Tonight I read this article:

A substitute teacher at a Georgia high school has been fired after he allegedly took photos of a female student in class and posted them to the Internet, authorities said. He is now being investigated by the local Sheriff’s office, Fox Atlanta reports.
The teacher, whose identity has not been released, allegedly posted covert photos of an East Coweta High School student to the “CreepShots” forum on Reddit. The subsection, which carries an “18 and over” disclaimer, is devoted to photos of women taken without their knowledge.

When someone on reddit complained and threatened to contact the authorities, this is how the reddit moderator replied:

“When you are outside and in public space, you do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy,” the user wrote, likening photography without consent to the relationship between celebrities and paparazzi.

It’s an interesting article that gets into this in more detail, with examples of how Anderson Cooper made comments in 2011 with a similar situation.

I know nothing about Reddit, or what people do there. But it’s obviously a web site that does not vet what users are doing or the photos they are posting. If they were, you wouldn’t see photos of minors posted in a forum called “creepshots.” And I think it’s time for them to be held accountable, as businesspeople. I have a sense of humor, I’m not holier than thou, as Joe Konrath would say, but I do think that when “creep” photos of minors are taken in a classroom and posted on a public Internet forum, there’s something wrong with the web site…as a business…itself.

Why aren’t Internet businesses, like facebook and reddit, forced to follow the same laws other businesses follow. Why are web sites and social media allowed to instigate corruption by allowing users to post sexually suggestive photos of minors, and why are they allowed to encourage fake identities that many times lead to crimes of bullying, victimization, and stalking?

Try owning a restaurant, or a retail clothing store, and allowing some of your customers to put up photos of minors on a bulletin board next to the cash register and see what happens. The business owner would be held just as responsible as the person who posted them on the board. I’ve owned several service/retail businesses and I took full responsibility for my actions and the actions of my employees at the time, because I knew that one wrong move would involve a lawsuit I didn’t want to deal with.

Not so much with Internet businesses. They get away with anything they want, and they do it with a sense of entitlement we haven’t seen since the days of the old Wild West. They seem to have free range to post, do, or allow anything they want…even at the cost of someone else’s security and well-being. In many cases with minors.

I believe in freedom of speech, and I know personally what it’s like to be censored by mistake. All I’m saying is that all Internet businesses, including all social media, should be held accountable if and when something does happen that is questionable. And I think posting photos of young women in classrooms on reddit falls into that catergory.

Do You Think Kids Should Be On Facebook?

I find this all very fascinating. And before I get to the link with a survey, I’ll explain why I find it fascinating. A friend of mine with a 13 year old son recently had a problem with FB. Like all his friends, the 13 year old wanted to be on FB because everyone else is doing it. He’s a good kid and never had any serious problems in school. A and B student; gets along well with everyone.

So my friend let his son set up an account and my friend started to monitor the 13 year old’s posts. Sounds fine so far, doesn’t it? All happiness and love in the Internet age. The 13 year old will post thoughtful, meaningful sayings and quotes and photos about love and harmony. And he’ll live HEA.

But like most kids this age, the 13 year old knows how to navigate the web and how to set up his own FB accounts. And like all teenagers ever born to mankind, they tend to lie every now and then. I’ve never met one that didn’t and you can’t hold it against them. It’s part of growing up. So while my friend thought he was monitoring the real account, his 13 year old was having a good old time with the fake account.

The 13 year wound up getting into trouble over something very small…something he’d posted on FB. He was arguing with another kid about something stupid…like all kids do…and he told the other kid he would kick his ass if he didn’t shut up. The father of the other kid, the politically correct type, saw this and complained to the school…even though it happened off campus. My friend’s kid wound up with a three-day out of school suspension, which will remain on his record forever, because of a zero tolerance policy most schools have these days (they really don’t screw around anymore).

I’ve heard other stories that are more serious than this with kids on FB. And, my friend’s kid and the kid he was arguing with on FB are now best friends again. Kids do things like that, which is why they are called kids. They argue and they make up and it’s all forgotten the next day. But the suspension on his record won’t be. When he applies to college, it will be taken into consideration.

If it hadn’t been for FB, I’m not sure my friend’s son would have had any trouble. How many times do kids argue outside of school and no one thinks twice about it? They usually wind up being friends again. But once it’s in writing on social media like FB, it’s there forever and can be misinterpreted and turned around in many different ways.

I’m also wary about letting kids under 13 on FB because I know so much about social media, especially FB. It’s not a simple place to be. This morning when a newscaster in Philadelphia spoke about kids on FB she actually said something like this, “I don’t see anything wrong with kids under 13 on FB as long as the parents monitor it. I have friends who set up fake FB accounts so they can monitor their baby sitters’ FB accounts.” Yes, she said this on TV, without even thinking twice about saying it. She saw nothing wrong with setting up fake FB accounts to spy on someone else. This becomes a more complicated issue. It becomes a matter of ethics, not to mention safety. Fake identities on social media are probably the biggest drawback of social media these days. And to promote them, and laugh at them on TV, makes me think twice about whether or not kids under 13 should be exposed to it.

I also have other friends with kids in their teens. They do not allow their kids to be on FB until they are over eighteen. They are more focused on sending their kids to good schools, working toward getting them into good colleges, and keeping them away from things like FB. When I say they spend a good deal of their lives monitoring what their kids are doing in every respect, I’m not exaggerating. And these kids aren’t even on social media.

If I had kids, I’m not sure how I would react. I can’t say that I would embrace them being on FB under the age of eighteen. But I can say for certain they wouldn’t be on FB under the age of 13. That wouldn’t happen. The Internet is too creepy, it’s too furtive, and there are no signs of this improving any time soon. I’ve seen too much on FB and other social media to think otherwise. As long as the anonymity is perpetuated, the problems will be there. What someone will do with his or her real name and identity seems to be very different than what they will do with a fake name and identity. And I don’t like that. I would feel that it is my responsibility to protect my kids under 13 from that kind of environment. I kind of look at FB the same way I look at defensive driving. Everyone else on the road is a potential hazard and I take nothing for granted.

Here’s an article about the subject, with an interesting survey.

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