Why I Don’t Use Social Media For Business Communication

I didn’t really want to end the week on a somber note, but I wanted to share about my communication style, because this is part of what I think about when I manage careers (both mine and John’s) online.

Social media is great and it definitely has its uses. More and more I’m finding that casual conversations with “experts” are invaluable to writing research, as I dive into the wonders of virtual reality and economic instability for a story. Connecting with friends and family, also great.

What’s not so awesome, is the fact that social media was never designed with a celebrity or a creative professional in mind. I have very deep concerns about lines like this:

“For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (IP content), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.” — Facebook Terms of Service

That doesn’t mean I think Facebook or Twitter or any other site out there is “bad.” What this tells me, is that these sites weren’t constructed with creative professionals (who craft their own content) and celebrities (whose image is their office) in mind. Content is invaluable to these services, but it’s the foundation of my career and many others. I have to be careful about where I publish anything online because to some publishers, posting a story on a website may count as “first time publication rights.” I have to be careful about what I post on Facebook because long-term? As my career continues to evolve, I want to ensure that I maintain record of my e-mails and I have a preferred method of conducting business communication for management purposes. Facebook is not it.

Facebook’s messaging system is fantastic for event coordination and the initial reach out — provided you’re contacting someone ON Facebook. But, one can’t archive Facebook messages or automatically transfer them to GMail. There’s also a question as to what/how you can upload (your content) to share via e-mail and what happens after that message is out of your hands, how to categorize/label it for record-keeping purposes (e.g. you can’t) and what the legal ramifications are if you do use the platform’s e-mail to conduct a deal and that falls through. The system was initially designed for in platform use; if the conversion to a Facebook.com e-mail domain is any indication, the service realizes how valuable its usage is or could be. I found this gem of an article which puts e-mail in the context of marketing value; incidentally, this is the same reason why the platform continues to make changes to its pages. The article is a little sarcastic, yes, but as we all come to realize sooner or later — nothing is every truly “free.”

Like many people who are public-facing, I have some privacy concerns about mixing personal time and pleasure with business. I’m no celebrity, mind you, but I have enough visibility and long-term goals that I want to try things out and continue to mold the business. To some extent, I’ve given up on pouring efforts into Facebook because I’ve seen and experienced significant financial/traffic/usability drop-offs as Facebook moves toward a pay-to-play environment. My motto with Facebook now is: if it (going viral) happens? It happens. I still use it, yes, even moreso than Google+, but it’s not as valuable as spending time pouring that same effort into some other way of connecting with readers — like a newsletter, for example. It takes time to build an audience and I think that’s why social media is so alluring, because it promises to be instantaneous without actually being instantaneous. Not to mention, story must come first.

Twitter I use for quick contact, person-to-person communication, getting in touch with people I need e-mails from (funny, but true!) updates, writing research, event/meet-ups, and mini-snippets. I love Twitter, but I have to manage it, because in the past it’s replaced blogging and I’m very bad about following up on favorited links. BAD WRITER GIRL. I don’t make business decisions via Twitter nor do I commit to anything there, partially out of respect for other people, and partially? Because I have no memory. I have multiple e-mail addresses, yes, but everything is coordinated through one service and I have a system in place should I need to retrieve something important. (I’m also working toward getting caught up on my filing, but that’s another story.) We may get the initial interest portion worked out, or I may share what I’m working on, or whatever. . . You know, in many ways Twitter is like hanging out at the bar at a convention. You can have all the bar talk you want, but until it goes through e-mail? It’s not a real business deal.

To some extent, there’s also an “age” factor. I say this with the greatest amount of love and sincerity, by the way, because I don’t feel that this is an “age” factor because of how old people are; I feel this has everything to do with technology levels of experience and when certain elements the user first encountered. In my experience, people who use e-mail to conduct business, proper punctuation and grammar, and follow submission guidelines and basic forms of politeness are taken more seriously. I can err on the side of formality, yes, but I’d rather be polite than risk coming across like a beyootch to someone I’m hoping to do business with and/or get money from. Even so, communication styles also depend upon the relationships of the people involved. (I had a funny conversation with someone about that last week. He asked me: “Why so stiff?” And then blunt Monica came out. And then all was well. But I feel people don’t get to be “at” that friendly/sarcastic/banter level right away. Certainly, there’s something to be said for getting to know someone and ensuring that e-mail tone is appropriately geared. As I’ve learned: e-mail tone is e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.)

Anyway, that’s why I don’t use social media for business. It may not be a perfect solution on your end, but it’s what works for me. It’d be *very* easy to spend all day every day managing communication and parsing out personal, business, opportunities, etc. but the more I put that sort of thing first? The less the words flow, and the more chance I have of never getting done what I need to. It’d be different if I had an assistant, sure, but I’m not there yet. Even then, I feel that some things are just too important to be managed by a platform known for baby pictures and Failbook.

    Mood: Oh, so serious. Need to find a cat to snorgle.
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: There was something in my coffee, which now requires me to drink more of it.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Stay on Target.
    In My Ears: A Japanese title I can’t pronounce correctly
    Game Last Played: Tetris
    Movie Last Viewed: The Raven
    Latest Artistic Project: In progress!
    Latest Release: “Fangs and Formaldehyde” from the New Hero anthology through Stone Skin Press

On The Need For Digital Archiving

Jack The Pumpkin King Avatar

This courtesy message is brought you by the same person who coined the phrase “Klingons sparkle on the inside.” I’ve never conducted an autopsy to find that particular detail out, but it doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be curious. And please, no need to get upset, for I am a lover of all things Star Trek for its possibility and wonderment. If I had my choice, I would set every politician down and make them watch the original, then Star Trek the Next Generation, then the movies, and circle back to the remaining spin-off series — IN ORDER and PERPETUITY. Perhaps then we could get funding for science, space programs, and the like!

End public service message and mini-rant of a teeny, tiny size.

ANYHOO, back to the point of this post, which is this: ARCHIVE YOUR DIGITAL PUBLICATIONS UNDER PENALTY OF DEATH. I have learned, over and over again, how easy it is to lose years of work with the erasure of a button or technological snafu. While the internet and your digital footprint is for-ever and ever and ever, your writing may not be. I’ve written for Sony, and recently learned that they killed their blog which, in turn, killed my links to samples I was quite proud of. I also penned a few articles for Game Politics back in the day, which morphed under the arm of the Entertainment Consumer’s Association, and the stars-only-know where the hell my original articles went. (This is my fault, to be sure.)

But it’s not just guest articles I’m referring to. FOR THE LOVE OF CYBERTRON, BACK UP YOUR WEBSITE ON A REGULAR BASIS. You never know when a server could go down, when your site could be hacked, or when lightning strikes your server. (I don’t think lightning strikes hackers, by the way. They probably have armor of indeterminate size.) You spend a *lot* of time writing things down online, when it goes? That’s a lot of words and energy and time that could disappear in less time than it takes to retweet a link.

This is also part of the reason why I advocate the need for your own domain that YOU control with your OWN content on it. You cannot, unless you’re Mark Zuckerberg, control/back up Facebook. Twitter, Reddit, forums, etc. These are the flotsam and jetsam online. This is why I seriously feel that a domain you own is in your best interests, because your time is valuable and, if you’re a creative, your content even more so.

That doesn’t mean other sites like Tumblr, Blogger, Twitter, Pinterest, and the like aren’t worth exploring or leveraging. A multi-pronged approach typically works best when providing content online, after all. All I’m saying, is that if you do put quantities and volumes of content on other domains — find a way to digitally archive it. SERIOUSLY. If you’re a writer, remember your articles “could” be used for portfolio purposes or you can republish/re-purpose elsewhere pending the terms of your digital publication contract, too.

In conclusion, you have nothing to lose when you publish online — but your words, pictures, etc. etc. etc. ad infinitum. Digital archives are crucial to the survival of publishing on the internet. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

    Mood: I mini-ranted! Probably should have channeled that into my writing. Oh well. How’d I do? Dramatic enough or not enough Prospero?
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Is coffee supposed to glow? Seriously, folks. I think it’s radioactive today.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: I was good, I was good, I was good.
    In My Ears: My She-Ra power playlist
    Game Last Played: Tetris
    Movie Last Viewed: The Raven
    Latest Artistic Project: In progress!
    Latest Release: “Fangs and Formaldehyde” from the New Hero anthology through Stone Skin Press

Recommend Me Redux (Or Things That Aren’t Books)

As a follow-up to yesterday’s post where I inquire for your profferings of book recommendations extraordinaire, today I am asking for things other than books that have been on my mind. Mind you, this is an amalgamation of the bizarre and the eclectic, as I am wont to explore within the reaches of my sordid mind.

I start with the recipes I’m searching for, and it goes downhill from there. Also, I use the word “favorite” a lot. I make no apologies for the overuse of a word necessary to prompt you into recommending all, or one, or none of the things on this list. Nor do I make any inferences that you absolutely must share things that bring you joy from the deepest, darkest regions of your soul. Hey, I’m not the only one that has a heart seeped in shadow. That I know to be true.

* The “best” pie recipe of the fruit or chocolate variety
* A stunning bolognese recipe
* An amazing coffee drink that you feel should be shared year-round
* Your favorite Halloween tradition
* Best, absolute, must-listen to British band in the manner of The Doves, Muse, or Elbow
* Favorite female non-emo musician or artist
* Cross-stitch patterns for Final Fantasy, cats, and the phrase “self-rescuing princess.”
* Favorite meal-worthy vegetarian recipe
* A blog for a writer whose books you read. NO CHEATING!
* Someone you’ve worked with on a creative project that you’d kill to work with again
* Favorite Cthulhu-related item that is not a book
* An artist who sells prints of She-Hulk that aren’t boob-tastic
* Knee-high combat boots that don’t look like they were built for ‘tweens or Hot Topic goths. (Yes, I said it. Shocking, I know.)
* Favorite acrylic paint
* Favorite miniature painter (link to pics, puh-lease?)
* A craft-related blog that isn’t flowers and nature scenes
* Star Wars cross-stitch or some form of embroidery/beadwork that isn’t geared for kids
* Gothic/Victorian-era Halloween decorations of the raven, skull, or spider variety
* ANYTHING SKULLS (Only not real ones. That would just be silly, incriminating, and potentially icky.)
* Favorite cookie recipe. Dammitall! DAMODAR! I am hungry!
* The time-waster you feel guilty about but have no regrets over
* How do you podcast? Record music?
* The ugliest, most frightening sweater you have ever seen
* A picture that makes you laugh
* Best con experience evah!

    Mood: Hungry. Can’t you tell? And a *touch* sarcastic, I suppose. “Just” a touch.
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: I think there’s something in my coffee.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: I have to be good, I have to be good, I have to be good.
    In My Ears: I have no idea what this crap is. Thanks, iTunes!
    Game Last Played: Tetris
    Movie Last Viewed: The Raven
    Latest Artistic Project: In progress!
    Latest Release: “Fangs and Formaldehyde” from the New Hero anthology through Stone Skin Press

Recommend Me Books For A Change

Spike and Giles... Together at Last

It’s no secret that I feel, in order to be well-rounded both as a human being and as a writer, one must read books (and a lot of them). I get a sense and deeper appreciation of culture when I read works set in locations only seen on. . .well, it used to be Encyclopedia Britannica or National Geographic. I suppose it’s now Google Maps?

Anyhoo. My feeling is that there’s always one book that you feel defined “X” for you. For example, it’s no secret I feel American Gods defined urban fantasy. Published in 2001, I feel it was a landmark novel and extraordinarily influential on the genre. For other examples, I feel that Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice set the stage for paranormal romance and Splinter of the Mind’s Eye by Alan Dean Foster offered an exemplary take on tie-in fiction in a way that influenced other books in the Star Wars extended universe for years to come. Another one comes to mind, Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series was a powerful one and I feel a shining example of historical romance and time travel. Humor? Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, sure, but even before that, anything written by Erma Bombeck.

For modern horror with supernatural elements, there’s a scale of books that begins with the unabridged version of Stephen King’s The Stand, followed by the co-authored Peter Straub/Stephen King The Talisman, and winds up ever-so-neatly with The Great And Secret Show series by Clive Barker. (What’s he up to, now-a-days. Anyone know? And yes, I realize that the trilogy I just mentioned is billed as “fantasy,” but to me, it’ll always be dark fantasy teetering on the fringes of horror.)

For fantasy? Oh, there’s also a scale given how well-read I am in that genre, too. Where to begin? The Death Gate Cycle series by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, The Dragonbone Chair series by Tad Williams, and pretty much anything by Tad, because he writes about characters that are more diverse than the traditional Anglo-Saxon Protestant living in a world where magic exists. (Sorry, folks. . .that’s a button for me. I like diversity in my fiction, especially in fantasy, because my world is diverse. Though, there is a lot to be gleaned from stories where the characters are homogeneous, too.) My list, which goes into never-never land, goes on and on and on.

Because of how I read (and when) no doubt my take on the cultural zeitgeist is a personal one — but there are gaping holes in my library at the moment, reading I lack either because I have no idea where to begin, I’ve forgotten what I had read, or because I fallen out of reading experimentation due to laziness and default to whatever’s lurking about on my shelves. Mind you, my walls are quite literally bleeding books, so this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. And reading experimentation, my friends, is what this post is all about.

Today, I am asking for your recommendations on a single tome, a work of fiction, that YOU feel is the best indicative of one of the following categories, cultures, professions, genres, etc. It does not have to be a best-seller or a modern work, mind you. It just has to mean something profound to you and available via Ye Olde Library. Now that I think about it, try to limit works published since the 1950s, unless I noted the word “literature.”

* Feminism
* Modern Romance
* Gay/Bi-sexual/Lesbian
* Transhumanism
* Post-Apocalyptic
* Werewolves
* Fairies
* Arthurian legend
* Modern conspiracy
* Ghosts
* Middle-Eastern literature (Please, not Arabian Nights.)
* Italian science fiction or fantasy (can be written in Italian)
* Norse mythology
* Mexican literature
* Steampunk
* Virtual reality
* Hard (no floofy hand-waving, please) science fiction
* Speculative (e.g. something that has its own category and doesn’t fit anyplace else)
* Pick a culture, any culture I haven’t mentioned here, and recommend a work I absolutely have to read. For example, Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart is one I highly recommend.

Please comment below and share your recommendations!

    Mood: *laughs maniacally*
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: I think there’s something in my coffee.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: WOOOOOOOOOOOOO. (Or not.)
    In My Ears: Other voices.
    Game Last Played: Tetris
    Movie Last Viewed: The Raven
    Latest Artistic Project: In progress!
    Latest Release: “Fangs and Formaldehyde” from the New Hero anthology through Stone Skin Press

Scrivener Upped My Word Count. Here’s Why.

I downloaded Scrivener for the PC a few months back, but I never used it religiously until last week. Now, I realize that some other authors may feel that this is software with too many bells and whistles is a way to provide meaningful distractions from the act of getting one’s butt in the chair and proceeding a-pace. ***warning, proceeding a-pace is my new favorite phrase*** After all, there’s only so much outlining, worldbuilding, character development, and scene mapping one can do before the words flow. (Like spice, only faster and less blue-eye turning.)

Sure, the planning portion of a project can be another timesuck (a word coined by the incomparable Lili Saint Crow, might I add) in addition to all the other timesucks out there caused (in no short order) by shiny objects, demanding cats, for sale signs, plague-carrying squirrels, online friends, and Angry Birds. What I’ve also found, is that if you’re multi-tasking and using the same computer for a myriad of other work-related activities, that it’s harder to separate pay-the-bills work from working on spec.

I was trying to figure out what my novel hang-up was, and I knew it had something to do with spending weeks (if not months) on a manuscript that may never sell. THIS HURTS THE FREELANCER’S BRAIN. In a freelancing situation you get paid, sometimes before the work is done, other times half up front or whatever the case may be. Mentally, this is batshit of course, because in order to be a novelist, the only way forward is to get the story out NO MATTER WHAT. Fire, snakes on a plane, floods, biblical-level apocalypses — butt plus chair and writing utensil of some sort is the only way to get that story down, then revised, and finally submitted.

So what’s the solution? Well, I told you I changed the layout of my office and this has, indeed, had a positive impact. I’m also building in two days at the library with no internet, to reserve e-mail in the morning and at night, in order to have solid work chunk times outside of my house. What this came down to for me, was a change in perspective.

That’s what Scrivener provided for me. I often use this trick when I’m revising: I change the font or the spacing to ensure that I can approach something with fresh eyes. Now, though, I applied the same technique when I was writing. And lo! and behold! Two hours and 2,500 words (on average) later?

Now, I have a ton of theories as to why this is, and namely it’s because when I write for RPGs, or pen short stories, or draft non-fiction articles I’m always using Microsoft Word. It’s often instinctive, I automatically look for pagination, line breaks, word count, and the like. The screen is familiar to me as it has been for so, so, so many years. By changing the software I use, specifically for long form works like novellas and novels, I am infusing something new visually and viscerally to the work. I am saying that “When I use this piece of software, I am serious about spending my time on this manuscript.”

Likely, I don’t use the software like everyone else does. Outlines? Screw it. I start with a one-page pitch document which includes a logline, a generic synopsis, and my other notes. I must know the beginning, the middle (or key milestones) and the end. Then, I can dive in and write the whole damn thing. Revisions will allow me to break up scenes and smooth out the finer details in chapter-by-chapter (or scene-by-scene) form. One novella’s already plotted and I’m having so much fun I’m writing out of order again. Hey, no one said a novel had to be written linearly from beginning to end, did they? If I’m bored with a scene, that’s what Scrivener allows me to do, I can always jump back and keep going.

And proceed a-pace I shall. Oh, I definitely shall.

    Mood: It’s Monday. Why do you ask?
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Not ‘fessing up today. Screw it.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Some form of physical activity which did not involve contortionism.
    In My Ears: Americano by Lady GaGa
    Game Last Played: Tetris
    Movie Last Viewed: The Raven
    Latest Artistic Project: In progress!
    Latest Release: “Fangs and Formaldehyde” from the New Hero anthology through Stone Skin Press
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