My Musings on Social Networking

I haven't blogged in awhile.  I've been busy with social networking.  I've been managing my other blog,  I've been busy promoting my newest release, Upon Your Return.  I even ran an official print release event on Facebook for it.  All of this, of course, with a side job.  So this may come as no surprise to any of you if I say...well, I'm exhausted.  LOL.

I have a love-hate relationship with social networking.  Some days, it likes me.  Things flow smoothly.  Other days, it really doesn't.  My numbers are good.  I have 1501 connections on LinkedIn and 1105 followers on Twitter.  I have 1127 friends on Facebook.  My author page has 359 “likes” and my book page has 255 “likes”.  This isn’t even counting my other pen names.  This is only my Marie Lavender accounts I’m talking about.  So, hey, I’m making good progress, right?  I guess what I meant when I said “love-hate” with regards to social networking was this…rules suck.  This pretty obvious statement sums it up to a tee.

I promote, promote, promote.  I blog personally when I can.  I have guest bloggers.  I do interviews, both with authors on my blog and interviews on other sites to promote my book.  I do guest blogs on other sites.  I run events.  I just…try.

Well, getting the word out on a limited or, really, no budget is hard.  So, I do what I can.  I post on LinkedIn.  Then I have some good responses like, “Hey, that’s great.  I loved this article!”  And that’s really exciting, right?  No, it really is.  And I love hearing that.  Then there are other people who direct message me with a nice statement about how “check out” is a really stupid phrase to use and could I please take a look at the group rules before posting?  Or…“please don’t advertise your book here…it will just get deleted.”  

Group rules.  Who thinks of this stuff?  Well, apparently, LinkedIn thought it would be funny to allow moderators the ability to do that.  And that’s great.  For them.  Not for authors like me who somehow have to get their name out there or have to somehow help other authors.  And I agree that with some groups posting the same ad over and over again can get monotonous.   “Hey, we offer such and such service.  Don’t miss it!”  This repetitive spiel is bad.  So I totally understand.  But, I’m hardly repetitive.  Each posting is about an new author or new article or new interview.  Well, you get what I’m saying.  I guess I’m just venting, but it is really hard to get yourself out there.

And then there’s Facebook.  You have like, thousands of friends.  You have tons of likes so that means you should have “followers”, right?  No.  Not really.  When you post something and look at the stats, you have only managed to “reach” like 20 people.  Twenty as opposed to however many should be seeing it.  Wow.  And you know what boosts it?  Oh, the age-old thing called money.  So, let me get this straight.  We have to “pay” Facebook to make an impact?  Oh, that’s right.  Because nothing in this world is free.  How could I have forgotten that?  So, why didn’t I just go with advertising?  Well, because that, my friends, is expensive.  Facebook ads can run anywhere from $1 to $50 per day.  Yeah, I said that.  Per day.  So, I would have to pay out at least $30 a month to penetrate a market that really should be free.  People don’t get on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or even Pinterest to pay a fee every month.  They get on there to “social network”.  Well, before I get into a raging tirade, I better move on to something else.  Say…Twitter.

Oh, Twitter.  It’s beautiful if you spend 24 hours a day in front of your PC.  Retweet, post, retweet, post, get a little creative, post, reply to a witty remark, reply to a lovely quote, reply to someone’s suggestion on what movie to see, retweet, post.  Okay, I think I’m getting dizzy.  Follow a ton of people.  I have.  Should I have?  Well, I have a lot of followers now.  But, are they all following me?  Well, no.  Then you have to ask yourself, “Should I unfollow someone, and will that have a major impact?”  Possibly.  See, the problem is that Twitter likes to freeze you.   They block you from following anyone else at around 2000.  From there, you have to boost your followers until you can follow any more.  So, I am just staying where I am.  I’ve followed who I’ve followed.  I’ll do what I can to have them follow me.  But, if they don’t, what can I do?  If my numbers change and I’m able to follow more, great!  If not, I guess I’ll just keep doing the Twitter thing.  Hopefully that helps.  

I am selective about what I retweet.  If it appeals to me, I do it.  I am not going to retweet every silly thing people say.  Like, “Hey, FOLLOW FOLLOW FOLLOW I SWEAR I FOLLOW BACK FOLLLLLLLLLLLOOOOOOOW”.  I’m not kidding.  I’ve seen that.  All I can say is…wow, and move on from there.  But, if something is really interesting, catchy or worth retweeting I will always do it.  I reply to people’s tweets when I am moved to.  Sometimes it’s even fun!  And if one of my followers sends me an entirely inappropriate suggestion or asks for a random hookup, I don’t hesitate to…ha, you thought I was gonna say, go for it?....unfollow.  Because I don’t have time and I really don’t have the inclination to deal with juvenile comments.  Not to mention it is embarrassing and I’m in a happily committed relationship.  

Where was I?  Oh, yes.  Rules suck.  Rules suck.  Rules…oh, sorry, I had a robot take over my body for a moment there.  Rules are no fun.  The world, unfortunately, is run by them.  There is no getting around them.  Rules are the building blocks of society, aren’t they?  Damn, that sucks.  I have always been the kind of person to want to knock down those kind of walls.  But, there’s really no way to get around these “rules” in social networking.  Just as you can’t get around certain rules in publishing.  Or in entrepreneurial ventures.  You have to follow certain steps to get a certain point.  Sure, you can step around some things.  But, there will be some things you almost have to do whether you want to or not.

Where am I going with this spiel?  Oh, yes.  Social networking can be a powerful tool if used properly.  But, it can be a real pain in the ass on the way there.  Did I say that?  Sorry, everyone.  Just venting.  These are all the downsides, of course.  

The upside is this…people.  Because I love my fans.  I do.  I love getting messages on Facebook from a potential fan interested in my books.  Or just talking to someone like a human being.  Because we all have problems.  We’re all human.  And  I love interacting with other writers and doing interviews with them.  I definitely love a lot of things about it.  It’s fun sometimes, that social networking thing.  If I could just get over the hurdles, the limitations these tools have in place, it would be different.    

Maybe when it comes down to it, I’m just exhausted.  Well, now I know why.  It’s almost four a.m.  DUH.  I think I’ll call it a night.  Goodnight, fans, and good luck to those of you who use social networking to promote your books.  It’s a hard road.

When Does Reality Affect Your Writing?

Our lives take a toll on us.  We amble through each day, dealing with each stressor the best way we can.  But, we are not infallible.  Nor are we indestructible.  

Some of us have to pay the bills somehow while we wait for our ship to come in.  So your job can put more stress on you.  There are a million distractions, and not always the good kind.  Yeah, it’s nice when the day looks pretty and you feel encouraged to go explore.  That’s a pleasant distraction.  The not so pleasant kind can deter from your writing.  We all know what that can entail.  Pressure in all directions.
I saw a quote recently that I think is very apropos.  Ray Bradbury said, “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.”  So, what kind of reality does he mean?  Well, I think all of us can imagine.  What in your reality keeps you from working on your novel, poem or play?  I have a tendency to be too realistic, a flaw my fiancĂ© reminds me of often.  But, I’m a creative soul too.  And my tendency to be so realistic does distract me from writing.  Because I tend to focus too much, to worry too much about the future.  What if?  What will happen…blah, blah, blah.  I’m sure some of you are familiar with that train of thought.
I have a manuscript, a sequel to my newly released book, that is just waiting to be finished.  My first historical romance took me years to write.  Years!  Why?  Because life got in the way.  Because I had this or that to do.  I’m realistic enough to know that I can’t just sit and write 24/7, whether I want to or not.  I have to sleep.  I have to eat.  I have to, well…live, for lack of a better word.  And those experiences do shape us as writers.  They add to our core.  They help us write.  But, they can kill the creative fire too.  
You know the fire.  The burn.  The urge to make your hands pick up a pen or fly across a keyboard.  You feel it every day, even underneath all those distractions.  You feel it when, finally, at some point, a scene comes into your mind.  The muse has blessed you again.  And yet, as writers, we can be hurt too.  Yes, we’re all human.  But, I don’t imagine many people know how hard it is not to write, not to feel that utter freedom of creativity.  How exhilarated you can be when something just clicks inside of you, some part of the plot, some facet of the character.  You start writing and don’t stop for twenty minutes or even longer.  Ah, the ecstasy of it.  No one knows better than a writer how that can feel.

So, let’s examine Mr. Bradbury’s words a little.  Stay drunk on writing?  As if it’s a drug or alcohol?  Do we actually want to be intoxicated?  Well, maybe not in reality.  But, on writing?  Yes!  Oh, if only we could endlessly feel that freedom.  Every one of us wants to.  Don’t deny it.  And it is like a drug, addictive in its own way.  

And what else did Ray say?  Reality will destroy you.  Okay, being realistic isn’t so bad, right?  It helps us accomplish our tasks for the day.  Hell, it even takes a little realism to outline your story because you’re looking at it from a different perspective.  So, maybe what we can surmise from it is this:  too much reality destroys our joy of writing.  Sure, I can see that.  With all the deadlines and the phone calls and the bills (of course), and any other distraction in our lives, how can we truly enjoy writing?  I guess finding a good balance is a good way to live. 

Find your joy.  I urge you to write.  We know we can’t immerse ourselves too much in that world or things won’t get done, right?  How many times have you written or focused on a project for hours only to come up for air when someone in your family says, “Are you still working?”  I have to laugh at that.  Because you just did it.  You were able to close out the distractions of the world around you long enough to experience how wonderful writing is.  And you didn’t even realize it.  Isn’t that the best part?  How does the saying go?  How time flies when you’re having fun.  And despite all those deadlines and edits or rewrites, despite the way you have to promote yourself to sell a book, you were able to feel the joy of writing.  Because writing can be fun.  It can be fulfilling. 

So, my one piece of advice I can leave you with, friends, besides finding a happy medium, of course, is to be joyful.  Find the inner child in yourself.  The writer knows what I’m talking about.  Even those who aren't writers know what I'm talking about.  Maybe your passion is scrapbooking or pottery.  There is that part of yourself that cannot help but feel happy when you’re in the moment.  Nourish that part of yourself.  Sure, there will be things that drag your attention away from it, but as long as you can return to that joy time and time again, you’ll never stray too far.  And we can thank Ray Bradbury for his wise words.  “Stay drunk on writing” and never let reality destroy your joy.       

Author Bio


Marie Lavender has been writing for over twenty years. She has more works in progress than she can count on two hands. She has published sixteen books. Marie’s real love is writing romances, but she has also written mysteries, literary fiction and dabbled a little in paranormal stories.  Her most recent release, Upon Your Return, a historical romance, was published in February with Solstice Publishing.       


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