Nov 252015
Alex fave 4

Alex is also known as “Mr Social”


When attending writers’ group meetings, I can always count on at least part of the conversation turning to social media. I’ve come to expect it. What continues to surprise me, however, is just how many creative businesspeople resist joining their communities online. I don’t get it. While I may be an extreme introvert, one thing I’m not at all shy about is my fondness for social media.

I try not to be one of those “pain-in-the-butt-spammy-Pammies” with the constant stream of automatically posted “buy my book” and “like my page” messages. I hope to be a source of information for people who are less comfortable online than I am. I like passing on good news about friends and fellow authors or sharing touching, funny or uplifting memes, photos, and videos. I hope to connect people who read my blog, tweets or author page with other cool people on the planet.

Why wouldn’t I? I have met some amazing people and had the opportunity to collaborate on some unusual projects. I first met my fabulous assistant (and now close friend) on Twitter. My husband and I first saw Alex (above) online, and we used my Facebook Author Page to help name him. Right now, I’m waiting to hear about a dog a reader tried to adopt after seeing the story on my author page.

A couple of weeks ago, I had another remarkable online experience. I was working to finalize a book title and needed some feedback from prospective readers. For years, I’ve heard marketing experts talk about using social media as a way to test ideas. Most of them have much bigger followings and can get involved with things like A/B testing. I was a little worried. You probably won’t be surprised to learn that I’m allergic to artificially inflated follower numbers and that I’m kinda in love with my small but loyal group of online buddies but this time I needed help — from lots of people.

Anyway, I needed help with a title. The working title had been with me since approximately forever and, not only was it hard to say, I was just plain sick of it. In addition, from what I could tell, people didn’t like it. And while I’m far from a marketing genius, I do know that a title that doesn’t make people want to know more probably isn’t going to be of much use, is it?

Despite my small numbers, I put a little poll on my blog. I belong to an ‘authors helping authors’ forum, and fellow members provided me with some thoughtful responses but, overall, raised more questions than they answered.

After creating new and better titles, I wanted to check them out again. And I needed to hear from people who hadn’t yet weighed in, so I sent private messages to a few dozen Facebook friends who helped me narrow the field to two titles.

Having arrived at a single, clear question (“This one or that?”), a friend of mine posted it on her wall. I do not know any of the dozens of people who took the time to help me.

It was wonderful. They answered the question, and also shared the reasons for their responses. Not only did these strangers help me choose a title, but they also helped me get clear about my own thinking. The whole process was affirming and social, a give-and-take for which I’m very grateful.

I’d also love it if you used the “comment” link to tell me how you use social media. What has your experience been? How do you feel about it?

 November 25, 2015  Posted by  E, Happiness, Thinking 5 Responses »
Nov 032015

jump in

Since nobody is immune from life’s ups and downs, it seems that a positive attitude about overcoming adversity is a great gift to give our kids. And gratitude seems to be a good place to start. What if we could teach them to be just as grateful for bumps in the road as they are for the Santa-lists?

Let’s face it: eventually experience can teach us that most clouds have silver linings and that setbacks make us stronger. Wouldn’t it be nice to have learned that a bit earlier in life? How can parents balance our powerful protective instinct with building “bounce-back” muscles? Without overwhelming the little people?

You can start almost anywhere. Have you ever been to a Pinewood Derby, science fair or similar event? Of course. Here’s the hard question: were you the parent who ‘over-helped’ or the one whose child had the ugly little car or slightly primitive, bumpy science project?

To learn new skills, we all need to stretch. The results are not always pretty, but the simple act of being able to complete a task and bring it to an event offers a feeling of competence and mastery. And when your child’s project is not judged “best”? What then?

I think that’s one of the reasons I participate in National Novel Writing Month every November. I’m not a novelist by any stretch of the imagination. I’m not not even sure that’s something to which I aspire. I like non-fiction and sharing practical ideas that could make someone’s life a bit better.

But ever since my husband challenged me to try this crazy thing called NaNoWriMo I’ve been hooked. 50,000 new words in November is a challenge and this year is no different than any other: birthdays, holiday gift shopping, travel planning, visitors, and Thanksgiving are upon us. Still, I’ve joined a few hundred thousand others who have decided to create “a sh*tty first draft” in just thirty days.

Maybe it’s my parents’ “fault”: kids who get support for taking risks and giving their best efforts will try again. In time, they can learn to compete with themselves. To look for improvement over their last best effort, find creative ways to reach their goals and achieve the desired results.

Apparently I’m still “that kid,” willing to try something outside of my comfort zone with an eye toward getting better in other areas of my life.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to come up with 1667 new words this morning!


What Kids Need to Succeed: Four Foundations of Adult Achievement by Andrea Patten and Harry S. Patten is available in Korean and Russian.