Inksper’s Social Media Links

We’ve spent the past couple weeks talking about the benefits–and some of the downsides–of social media, and we figured our readers would love to know where to find each of us. We’d love for you to Follow … Like … Friend us, and we’ll even return the favor if you leave your links in the comment section.

Lorna Seilstad

Lorna Seilstad

 

Shannon Vannatter (2)

Shannon Vannatter

Rose Ross Zediker

Rose Ross Zediker

Shari Barr

Shari Barr

Dawn Ford

Dawn Ford

Stacy Monson

Stacy Monson

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Brenda Anderson

Regina Merrick

Regina Merrick

Simba.Kav

Kav

ONCE UPON A TIME . . .

OnceUponATimeOnce upon a time, in a land filled with sunshine and cool breezes, paper and pencil, there was a girl who never heard of someone owning a computer in her home, much LESS a computer in her pocket.

She wasn’t very good at letter-writing – writing stories was much more entertaining, after all – and she tended to put off making phone calls if it were not completely necessary.

ComputerEyeThen, one day, a decree came out that computers weren’t just for the office any more. Computers became common in homes, where documents could be typed and saved, games could be played, and spreadsheets could be created.

The consumer saw this, and it was good.

A little later, the INTERNET was created. It still isn’t clear if Al Gore had anything to do with it or not, but movies such as War Games and television shows such as Family Ties where all the teens wanted for their birthdays was something called “a mouse” came along and hinted at the possibilities that were out there.

Time passed, Windows came along as DOS died, and MySpace was born. The girl didn’t see any use for this – after all, it was an evil plot to get all her personal information out in the cold, cruel world, wasn’t it?

ComputerEmailBut then, a miracle happened. The girl was introduced to email. She found out that she could talk to her sister in almost REAL TIME, just typing – which, for the girl, was much faster than talking.

Email took care of most of the pesky letter-writing and phone-calling that she kept putting off until it just didn’t get done. But even then, you had to know where the person was to get in touch.

LIKE2005 came, and so did Facebook. It was great. She found out that there were people out there that she KNEW, that she had always wondered about, but never took the time to search for them. She reconnected. She made NEW friends. Friends of Friends. People she thought may have died.

The girl thought there could be nothing better than Facebook – until she discovered Fan Fiction about her favorite cancelled television show. It opened up a whole new social network for her. The stories could continue, could swerve around in alternate universes, could go back in time, could fill in the blanks . . .

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What was even better for the girl than reading and responding to fan fiction was writing fan fiction. Through writing, she met some of her best friends. Friends that, years later, even after the fan fiction website was gone, are still there, still encouraging, still sharing the stories of their lives AND their publishing lives.

For the girl discovered that writing, whether it be a comment on Facebook, a long-overdue letter or email, or a fantastical story of an FBI agent, opened up a social network that endures. And for that, she is thankful.

Writing should be about encouragement. About fun. About loving one another and lifting one another up. For the girl, THIS is what social networking is all about.

Managing Your Time on Social Media

NetworkingFacebook … Goodreads … Twitter … Vimeo …  Tumblr … Google+ … Pinterest … LinkedIn … Shelfari … Reddit … YouTube … Blogging … and so many more  …

It almost makes my head ache thinking of the ways we can waste our time networking, chatting, procrastinating. How do we manage it all?!

To be honest, if I weren’t a writer, if I didn’t need to build a platform, I’d probably chuck it all. But, since that’s not an option, there are steps I take to managing it.

  1. You can’t do it all. No one is Super Social-Media Man (or Woman), unless that’s their full-time job.
  2. Pick the most effective outlets for you. Once you realize you can’t do it all, it’s time to pick and choose which media outlets will best suit you. Which ones are you most comfortable with? Which let you network with readers, not just writers? Are any just for fun? My choices:
    1. Facebook – this site lets me interact with readers and writers
    2. Goodreads – mostly I use this site to track the books I’m reading or have read. So far I’ve avoided joining groups because they can be big time suckers. But I like the potential for this site as it is about the reader.
    3. Blogging – I blog consistently on my personal site twice a week, then on Inkspirational Messages every other week.
    4. Blog reading – Using Blogger, I keep a list of blogs I follow (which I keep to a minimum). I’ll typically skim through the posts unless something really catches my eye. I periodically comment, but rarely just to comment. I want to say something of value–not that I always succeed!
    5. Pinterest – I have a Pinterest site, but haven’t decided how to best use it yet. So far, thankfully, it hasn’t become a black hole for me.
  3. MP900449122[1]Set your clock. Even when you choose just a few outlets, they can still be time drainers. Establish a set amount of time you’ll spend on each site, and stick to it. My schedule:
    1. Write my blog posts on Monday.
    2. My first hour every weekday morning: read blog posts and check Facebook and Pinterest.
    3. If I can’t read through all my sites in that hour, that means something needs to be cut.
    4. No blogs on weekends. Periodically check Facebook and Pinterest for fun.
  4. Be a God Pleaser. This is probably the toughest point to follow, for me anyway. A big reason many of us–especially writers–are on social media is to add numbers to our platform. To do that we need to be people pleasers, we need write what our (potential) audience is interested in, and our posts need to reflect that as well. In so much of social media we’re asked to *like* or *follow* posts, authors, businesses, boards, etc. Agents and publishers want/need to see big numbers beside our name. And let’s face it, we all want to be liked and followed. So, how do we balance pleasing God while attempting to extend our outreach?
    1. Before posting, ask yourself what the purpose of the post is? Are you writing it merely to garner attention, or do you have information that will be useful to others? Who are you trying to reach–to please–with the post? And be honest with yourself–that’s the hardest part.
    2. Pray – I know this goes without saying, but it’s also easy to forget, especially for the mundane tasks of social media. Does God really want to be bothered with all the minutiae of our lives? Of course he does! So before you post, take some time and ask, “What is Your will?”

Which Social Media outlets do you use? How do you effectively manage your time when using them?

Plus What?

Google Plus imageGoogle Plus? “Plus what” was my first question. Isn’t it enough that I google for information? I use Google mail. I find my way around using Google Maps. I can see anywhere in the world with Google Earth. There’s also Google analytics and Google for business. Google this and that. Now there’s Google Plus? What could possibly be missing?

At some point, someone invited me to join Google Plus. Like most other social media, at first I said no thanks. I’m like Shannon – late to every social media party. Unlike her, I don’t tend to get obsessed. Mainly because I continue to be confused about what to do, what not to do, how to do, why I would do, etc. etc. (Apparently she catches on faster than me!)

When I got more invites to be in other circles, I decided I’d better figure out Google circleswhat it was. I created a Google Plus profile (yet another profile), then was told to create circles to put people in. I have a writing buddies circle, a friends circle, a family circle, even an acquaintances circle (for those people who don’t fit into the other circles).

The benefit of this is that it allow you to send a message to only those people in a specific circle (or you can send it to everyone – you get to decide). Perhaps you want to girls whisperingpost something for your family circle – e.g. photos of a family event, an inside joke, details about a get-together. You create the post (looks a lot like Facebook) and then select only that circle. No one outside the circle sees it. Everyone IN the circle can comment, share info, etc.

I like that it creates a much more private way to share messages, photos, and information. You can invite whomever you want – using your address book, Facebook, etc., and put them in any circle you want. And creating a profile is easy (honest).

I don’t utilize it nearly as much as I should. I tend to be one of those people who’s not convinced all this social media really sells books or provides the exposure we want. But I keep plugging away at each new thing.

So, would you like to be in my circle? I’d love to have you!

All the Cares in the World

caring handsSocial media has its good and bad points, but one site that seems created out of sheer goodness is CaringBridge-a protected personal online journal for people wishing to keep family and friends informed about a health issue, either for themselves or a loved one.   

Fortunately I’ve never had to create an account, but I think if a major illness or accident struck my family, I’d want an easy way to keep people informed. I know several people who have CaringBridge accounts, and I’d rather read their journal online and leave a comment, instead of calling them every week or so to see how they’re doing, especially if it’s an extended illness. CaringBridge doesn’t take the place of personal contact but makes it easier to keep up-to-date when you know the patient (or account holder) is probably exhausted and may not always want to take calls.

A couple of years ago I read a blog about a little boy who is very sick. His family started a CaringBridge account and asked people to read the journal and pray for their son. I signed up to get email alerts when a new entry is posted to the journal which reminds me to pray. This little guy is still sick, and I continue to ask God to heal him even though I have never met this family and probably never will. 

Do you take part in social media? If so, do you have sites you would recommend to others?