My Last Gift from Santa

In my birth family, Santa Claus brought presents to children through their high school years, but that was it. Because I was the oldest kid in the family, the parameters around childhood experiences developed as I grew up. I’m not sure when the End of Santa rule was determined—if Santa announced it to me in advance, or if I only found out when he no longer left me anything. I seem to recall some discussion leading to a mutual decision between Santa and me.

But in December 1972, the year I was a senior in high school, I knew Santa was still planning to show up for me, as well as for my younger siblings.

I wanted a typewriter that year. An electric typewriter. After all, I would be heading off to college the following September, and a typewriter would be useful—maybe even a necessity.

I’d taken a typing class the summer after I was in the eighth grade, thinking that I’d have to type some papers in high school. I was dreadful at it, but summer school classes didn’t count in my high school GPA. I think the fastest I ever typed that summer was 35 words per minute, and those words were full of mistakes. I didn’t improve through my high school years, though I did type some of my longer assignments.

The only typewriter we had at home was an ancient manual machine my mother had acquired when she was in college. She wasn’t a very good typist either, and my father couldn’t type at all in those days. (Though he took to it after he retired, when he started using computers regularly, and became a pretty good four-fingered typist.)

By contrast, my maternal grandmother, Nanny Winnie, was an excellent typist. She had been to a year of business college (basically, secretarial school) after high school, and she was very fast. She was so fast that she usually typed her personal correspondence with friends and family. Which was a good thing, because her handwriting was barely legible. I remember visiting her when I was quite small, and she clattered away on the keys typing letters while I played on the floor beside her.

By high school, I was too old to sit on Santa’s lap. To let Santa know I wanted a typewriter, I typed most of my papers the fall semester of my senior year. That meant I had to draft them early enough before they were due that I could slowly peck out a final version on my mother’s old typewriter.

“Why are you typing everything?” my mother asked me one evening as I pounded out a term paper. “Is it required?”

“Not really,” I said. “But I think it looks nicer.” I continued to hunt for those elusive keys, hoping Santa would get the hint.

Santa brought me two suitcases like the one pictured above and the soft carry-on, but not the smaller hard-cased carry-on.

On Christmas morning 1972, I followed my usual practice of sneaking from my bedroom to the living room in the wee hours before dawn. Some years, my brother accompanied me, but that year, I spied alone.

There, under the tree, was a set of luggage—two green Samsonite suitcases and a matching carry-on tote bag. Those must be for me, I thought. I’m the only kid going anywhere this year.

And there was a Smith Corona electric typewriter. At 5:00am, I couldn’t take try it out, but I vowed to be up again as soon as the rest of the family began to stir.

A Smith-Corona typewriter, just like the one Santa brought me

When the appointed hour for children to arise came, I was back in the living room with my typewriter. It had a manual return, but electric touch in the keys.

Unfortunately, owning this machine didn’t improve my typing skills. I managed through college and law school on that Smith Corona, but I didn’t improve as a typist until after I began using a personal computer in the mid-1980s and got a lot more practice. Perhaps that will be the topic of another post.

What was your last gift from Santa?

Impact of Shorter Attention Spans on Readers and Writers

Twice in one day last week, I encountered references to people’s reduced ability to focus these days. Our shorter attention spans are due largely to the ever-present distractions from technology—and I know this is true, based on my own behavior.

The first time this issue surfaced was during the Association of Missouri Mediators conference I attended, in which the keynote speaker, Professor Noam Ebner of Creighton University, cited the following statistics:

  • Today we spend on average three minutes on a task before we are distracted.
  • Once we are distracted, it takes an average of 23 minutes to get back on task.

Moreover, he said, humans are not good multitaskers. Contrary to what we think, every distraction detracts from and delays our ability to perform the task we were doing. The ubiquity of smartphones is the primary reason for our distraction, though other forms of technology are factors also. Think of when email first entered the workplace and dinged at us every few minutes. Now those dings follow us whenever our smartphone is within hearing range.

This photo isn’t of me. In reality, as I listened to the webinar, I played the video on my desktop, listened to the audio on my phone, took notes on my laptop, and kept my tablet nearby. No wonder I was distracted.

Later that day, while I was listening to another presentation during the AMM conference, I read an article (yes, I was distracted by technology) on The Passive Voice blog entitled “Shorter Attention Spans.” The article quoted Carolyn Reidy, president and CEO of Simon & Schuster, during the Frankfurt Book Fair:

“You have whole generations being trained for shorter attention spans than books require.”

As a writer, I had to stop and think about that statement.

I remember my childhood years when I spent whole days immersed in a book, from after breakfast until dinner, with only a short break for lunch. During summer months, I often consumed two books a day for a week.

Even into high school, when I had the time, I could read for hours on end. I read my favorite Phyllis Whitney young-adult mysteries and the like in a day. I read many classic novels (such as Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre) over the course of a few days, or no more than a week.

Even as an adult, despite working 50 to 60 hours a week and raising two kids, I escaped into books when I could. I’d take a weekend afternoon, or stay up late into the night, to read. It might only happen once every month or two, but it was a favorite respite.

But now? I still read a lot. I probably average a couple of novels a week. But  I find myself reading for a few pages, then switching my tablet to email, then checking Facebook, then back to the novel. My attention span is definitely shorter.

What does this mean for society?

Professor Epner talked about how it is harder for parties in a mediation to focus on problem-solving when their attention spans are shorter. This leads to the need to have shorter mediation sessions, and to let the parties break to seek out information and do other “homework” in between sessions.

The ubiquity of screens and digital interruptions have impacted the quality of our communications also. According to Professor Epner, we don’t interpret body language or word inflection in the same way we used to. Our intuition and empathy have changed as a result.

All this isn’t necessarily bad, because technology has added new ways of communicating as it has changed face-to-face opportunities. But technology makes communication different. And if we don’t recognize the changes and consider them in our communications, we will not resolve problems and differences as well as we used to.

Now, think about what this means for readers and writers.

I described my own experience as a reader above. I do not read without distractions as I used to. I do not think I’m unique in this regard.

If other readers have changed as I have, then writers need to consider how to grab readers in shorter bursts and how to retain them as long as possible, or re-grab them after a distraction. Shorter chapters. More reminders of setting and situation in novels. More headlines and breaks and sidebars in nonfiction. More uses of metaphors that relate to today’s readers.

Carolyn Reidy of Simon & Schuster said we need to be sure books remain “central to the discussion of what’s going on in the culture,” while at the same time using social media to reach consumers more directly. I agree with both points. The challenge is to handle both book-length writing and social media snippets equally well, for the functions that each does best.

Writers, what do you do to attract and retain today’s readers that you didn’t do ten years ago?

Libraries Out Loud

I’ve written before about the wonderful libraries in the Kansas City area, including the Kansas City Public Library, the Mid-Continent Public Library, and the Johnson County Library. I am proud to say I have library cards with all three systems. And I am prouder to say that Kansas City ranks as one of the most literate cities in the United States, according to a study by Jack Miller, president emeritus of Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, Connecticut (though we are only #16 in 2017, falling slightly from 2015 when we were #14).

On July 18, 2017, I attended a program at the Kansas City Public Library called “Libraries Out Loud.” The program featured the leaders of four Kansas City library systems—Johnson County Library’s Sean Casserley, Kansas City, Kansas Public Library’s Carol Levers, Mid-Continent Public Library’s Steven V. Potter, and Kansas City Public Library’s Crosby Kemper III. These four knowledgeable professionals discussed the current state of our libraries, as well as their assessment of what the future will bring for public libraries. The program was moderated by Nick Haynes, who moderates the KCPT Channel 19 program Kansas City Week in Review.

The July 18 session also featured four short documentary films by Michael Price about the state of libraries in Kansas City. The film segments explored four areas of practice in libraries today. They were titled “Building Communities,” “A Literacy Beyond Words,” “Bridging the Great Digital Divide,” and “For the Planners and Dreamers.” All four shorts are available online here.

A major theme of the evening and of the film shorts is that libraries serve the unique needs of the public in their communities, whether those needs be for education, information, or communication. As Sean Casserley said, libraries are “places of the mind” where we can discover “what it means to be human in the 21st Century.”

Kansas City Public Library parking garage

Another theme these librarians emphasized was that literacy is more than about words. It involves knowledge about anything from the environment to fitness to food. Crosby Kemper stated “libraries are about turning information into knowledge . . . about organizing information.”

And libraries are places where anyone can get access to knowledge, as well as help in sifting good information from inaccurate. They are the great equalizers in our unequal society. They are refuges for all.

With these broad missions in mind, the public libraries in Kansas City and its surrounding communities provide the following in one or more locations:

  • Yoga classes
  • Classes on English as a second language
  • A seed library (where patrons take seeds, grow them, and return seeds after their harvest)
  • 3-D printers, which, among other uses, help entrepreneurs create product prototypes
  • Consulting and research for small businesses
  • Hands-on nature programs for children.

They provide ebooks to patrons who never enter their doors, and they mail hand-selected books to homebound patrons who get to the library (Yes, via snail mail—wouldn’t it be wonderful to receive a book picked just for you by a professional librarian on a regular basis to feed and develop your reading habit?). They provide digital connections to those who do not have internet access at home, and meeting rooms for a variety of community programs.

And they even show people how to butcher pigs. (Yes, the Johnson County Library once had a program on how to butcher pigs. Not the actual slaughtering, but to demonstrate where various cuts of meat come from on the animal—knowledge our urban and suburban community otherwise would lose.)

Despite the rapidly changing publishing and digital environment, the four librarians who spoke on July 18 were all enthusiastic about the future of libraries. They see their missions as developing with the times, but remaining relevant.

In the future, libraries might

  • Provide second and third chances for people to receive an education through GED programs, links with online university classes, and continuing education. As Steve Potter said, libraries can provide “remediation wherever you are in life.”
  • Become data hubs to help the public access information and answer a variety of questions
  • Serve as links between the public and their health care providers to transmit health data
  • Collect stories from people and serve as a repository of local history

Woodneath Branch of the Mid-Continent Public LIbrary

Some of these possibilities are already happening, and others are certainly within sight. The Mid-Continent Public Library has purchased all past editions of the Kansas City newspapers, which they will make available to the public. MCPL also has a genealogy center and The Story Center which fosters written and oral storytelling.

I came away from this program marveling at what a great resource we have in the public libraries in our community. And hopeful that they will remain great resources in the future.

Whether you live in the Kansas City area or not, I encourage you to watch the four short documentary films. And local residents can tune-in to watch a special Kansas City Week in Review at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, August 4, on KCPT that will discuss these films and our great library systems. (This broadcast was publicized at the July 18 event, but I haven’t been able to confirm it. You might want to check your TV schedule.)

What do you like best about public libraries? And what do you hope they become in the future?

Sleepless in Kansas City

One of the disadvantages I’ve found in getting older is not sleeping as well as I did in my youth. Ever since childhood, I’ve had trouble sleeping during times of stress, but now I hardly ever sleep for eight hours straight. Most nights I wake up once, but some nights I can’t fall asleep, and other nights I wake up around 1:00 or 2:00am and lie awake for an hour or two.

Rarely do my dreams wake me up. In fact, I don’t remember many of my dreams. I used to, but this seems to be another age-related change. Or else most of my dreams now are boring.

I do still dream in color. In the 1940s, most people reported dreaming only in black and white, but now 80% of people say they dream in color. There is some speculation that the shift is related to the development of color television.

My husband read somewhere that monophasic sleep (solid sleep for a single period each night) is actually a modern phenomenon. People used to have biphasic sleep, in which they slept for two periods in a 24-hour day. That, apparently, is where the practice of naps and siestas came from.

Some experiments have found that when people have no regular sleep schedule imposed on them, they gravitate to two four-hour periods of sleep separated by a couple of hours. Many of my nights follow this pattern. Since I learned this factoid, I’ve tried not to worry when I lie awake in bed. After all, I also read somewhere that just lying quietly gives one 80% of the benefit of sleeping (though I doubt that.)

Older generations in my family also had wakeful periods at night. My father went to bed around 8:00pm whenever his schedule permitted. He would often get up again around 10:00 or 11:00, drink some Pepsi and go back to bed. Then he was ready for his next day to start at 5:00am.

My mother, by contrast, liked to stay up reading until 11:00 or so. But she often fell asleep on the couch, until my dad woke her up. In the morning, she would stay in bed well after he was up—or at least that’s what she did once she didn’t have kids to get off to school.

When I visited my paternal grandparents as a small child, my bed was usually the living room couch with a chair placed next to it so I wouldn’t roll off. Sometimes I woke in the middle of the night and saw my grandmother sitting in a chair nearby, smoking a cigarette. She sat with one leg tucked up under her, the way I still sit whenever I can do so without opprobrium. I don’t smoke, but I think of her whenever I move around my house in the dark and whenever I curl my feet up in a chair.

My husband’s grandmother also used to walk the halls when she couldn’t sleep. She would move from bed to bed trying to find a restful spot—some nights she spent time in all three bedrooms in their house.

Ereader in night mode

Using an ereader doesn’t help my sleeplessness. I know it’s a bad idea to have that light shining in my face when I’m trying to sleep, but what else is there to do at 2:00am? I use a blue filter to minimize the brightness and I turn on the night mode in my reading apps. With these adjustments to the screen, reading often lulls me back to sleep.

Before I began writing, I used to try to distract myself in the middle of the night by making up stories in my head. Some of the ideas for my novels developed during these nocturnal musings. But now that I’m a writer, that’s work! I still do it sometimes, but since I now want to remember any good plot points I imagine, it’s not as restful as it used to be.

So I read newspaper headlines instead. The Wall Street Journal is delivered to my email inbox shortly after midnight, and The New York Times headlines come in the wee hours of the morning. Trying to focus on economic and international news is usually enough to put me to sleep. If it doesn’t make me mad.

What do you do when you wake up in the middle of the night?

A Tale of Two New Computers

I wrote in January 2013 about having to replace two computers and an e-reader within a few short months. Four-and-a-half years later, I’m in a similar situation. After replacing my husband’s and my cell phones last December and our printer in February, I am now in the middle of upgrading our two computers.

The keyboard and a USB port on my old laptop—the sweet little laptop that produced my two novels—were going bad. The computer worked fine with an external keyboard, but it wasn’t reliable as a true laptop any longer. And I worried that if the one remaining USB port stopped working, I wouldn’t be able to back up my data to the external hard drive.

Meanwhile, the desktop my husband uses has become painfully slow, despite a full overhaul last summer. Booting up takes forever. I click on the Quicken icon and can go downstairs for a Diet Coke before the program loads. My husband has tolerated this glacial speed, but I can no longer stand it.

The time has come. These machines have done yeoman’s work. They deserve a rest. They deserve another home with someone who will appreciate them the way I no longer can. So in March I ordered two computers.

My new laptop arrived—a 13-inch convertible HP Spectre with a touchscreen, tons of RAM, and a solid-state hard drive. It’s essentially a souped-up version of the little laptop that has been my partner for the past several years.

New laptop

I love the device, but I hate the set-up. I’ve had the new laptop almost two weeks now, and it still doesn’t operate the way I want. I can do most things, but finding files I moved to its hard drive takes a little work (mostly because I’m trying to organize my data more rationally than on the old laptop). Even programs aren’t always where I expect them to be.

I’ve switched to Microsoft Office 365. I don’t like subscription plans for software, but Microsoft sets their prices so that the 365 plan makes the most sense financially if you have more than one device you want to load Office on. Plus you get tons of cloud storage. Thankfully, this version of Office looks enough like the old that I can type. But I had to install the custom fonts I used on my novels again, and I’m not sure I have them all yet. I’ll need to inspect everything before I can format my new novel to look like the others in the series (though that is months down the road).

I’ve downloaded Scrivener and Evernote and my backup software. I’ve loaded the Kindle and Nook apps and made Chrome my default browser. But I found out that my photo editing preference—Picasa—is no longer available. So that was a huge disappointment, until I moved it from my old computer to the new one (it’s working at this point).

The backup software I’ve used with my external hard drive to back up continuously doesn’t work on this laptop. The software that backs up hourly seems to work fine, but not the continuous backup. Western Digital can’t explain why, though they have offered telephone assistance, which I have yet to take advantage of.

Recently I had to use the laptop without the external keyboard and mouse, and I realized I’m going to have to make some changes in the trackpad.

Every day I find a new issue.

But even more frustrating than my set-up issues on the laptop is that HP lost the new desktop I ordered for over three weeks. I ordered it on March 17, and it was supposed to ship on March 20 and be delivered on March 24.

When there was no update to my order status page by March 25, I filed a complaint. I was told the computer had shipped on March 24. When several days later my order status page still said it would ship on March 20, I emailed HP again. I was told it would be shipped by April 6.

No change.

On April 7, I called HP’s customer service line. I was not given a firm ship date, but I was given a discount off the purchase price. Then finally, on April 8, I had an email from HP stating that the desktop had shipped. I now have a FedEx tracking number, and my order status page says the computer should arrive on April 11.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that I’ll have to go through the whole set-up process again. With my husband breathing down my neck (like he did the last time), wondering why it doesn’t work exactly like the old one. In addition to all the issues I described with the laptop, it will have Windows 10 instead of Windows 7, so it will look very different to him. But I bet he’ll be happier with its speed.

We are so reliant on technology these days. And yet, have things changed that much from when the horseless carriage replaced the wagon? We still have to fight our new devices and we lose productivity while we figure them out. We have the entire knowledge-base of the world at our fingertips, and yet a mechanically malfunctioning key can keep us from entering the password that allows us to access this knowledge. That was never a problem with the encyclopedia on the bookshelf.

What do you hate most about replacing a computer?

A Neophyte (Me) Develops a Website

My new website, http://www.TheresaHuppAuthor.com, has been live for a few weeks now. Regular readers might have noticed that I’m still tweaking things—the background, colors, etc. But I thought I would recap what I’ve learned as I developed this site.

My decision to develop my own website, rather than continue with my Story & History blog on WordPress.com, was only the first of many decisions. I knew I wanted a website built on WordPress.org (the WordPress platform for self-hosted sites), thinking that because I was familiar with WordPress.com, I could learn WordPress.org fairly easily. The decision to build my website on WordPress.org narrowed some other decisions, though the options were still legion.

I relied heavily on WPbeginner.com, which has many articles and videos that I found very helpful. Anyone wanting to build a website on WordPress.org should check this site out.

1. Which company will host my website?

There are countless hosting sites available these days. Some are free. Most cost a small amount each month—or more, if you want more options, such as backup service, greater online support, etc.

As I researched designing websites built on WordPress.org, I learned that WordPress recommends two hosting services—Bluehost and SiteGround. I was also familiar with GoDaddy through another organization I’m in. There are other comparable services, so do your own research and get recommendations from friends before you commit.

I compared the hosting services I knew of. In the end, I went with Bluehost, in part because they were offering a slight discount when I was ready to buy, and in part because they received excellent reviews for their customer service and support.

So far, I have had to consult the Bluehost technical support once. The Bluehost chat representative who helped me was reasonably prompt and quite courteous. I hope I don’t need them often, but I’m encouraged that my first experience was positive.

2. What theme will I use?

Once I set up my account through Bluehost and downloaded WordPress.org to my new site (yay! I have a website!), the next step was to select a theme that would aid in designing my site. Strictly speaking, this step is not necessary, and I could have designed everything from the ground up in WordPress. But, as the title of this post says, I am a neophyte. I wanted the comfort of a template to get me going.

I had researched many themes before I started, reading lists of “best themes for authors” and “best themes for small businesses” and the like. I had probably looked at demos on about thirty different themes. I decided I wanted a theme that supported both a static home page and a blog page. Most themes do, but I also wanted support for e-commerce and portfolio displays. I’m not planning to sell my books through my website now, but someday I might choose to. And I like the look of portfolio sites and thought I might showcase my book covers that way (though so far I have not used that option).

In the end, I elected to use the Vantage theme by SiteOrigin. My primary motivation was that SiteOrigin also developed the PageBuilder plug-in that WPBeginner said was the best free page design tool for WordPress.org.

So I downloaded the Vantage theme and PageBuilder, and blithely began to design my website. Vantage has a free version, and that’s what I’m using now. I might upgrade to the premium version in the future, but at the moment I am overwhelmed enough.

3. What pages do I want on my site?

I had given this some thought prior to actually building the site. I knew most of the pages I wanted, and I knew what content I wanted on each page, though I had not written the text yet. I wanted a welcome message on my home page, a blog page where I would import my posts from Story & History and continue writing new posts, a page for each of my novels, a bio, a contact page, and a few extras for readers and writers. I’d looked at many author websites, and those seemed to be the standard features.

So then I started designing. My ideas changed a bit as I worked. I came up with some new ideas. But having an overview in mind before I started was a big help.

4. How the heck do you use PageBuilder anyway?

I finally got the slider on my News & Events page to work!

PageBuilder was not as intuitive as I had expected. It operates with modules, and offers a wide variety of modules, including text blocks, image blocks, sliders (for slide shows), contact pages, social media links, action buttons, and others. But which modules work best for which purposes?

I spent a couple of weeks experimenting. And countless minutes during those weeks going back and forth between one menu and the next trying to find what I wanted.

I never did get the masthead built the way I envisioned, and ended up creating the image I wanted in Canva, then loading it into a header widget. (If that last sentence doesn’t make sense to you, don’t worry about it.)

What that slider looks like in PageBuilder

Over those two weeks, I felt I learned PageBuilder pretty well. I learned to design my rows, put in spacers where I wanted them, add the text and image widgets I wanted, and move the widgets around until the pages looked close to what I wanted.

5. How do I import my blog?

I found instructions for how to move a WordPress.com blog to WordPress.org, and I followed the instructions. But nothing happened.

I tried again. Again, nothing happened.

Then I found instructions for how to make sure that my WordPress.org taxonomy (how posts are named) matched the post names on my WordPress.com blog. I changed my taxonomy, and tried again. About twenty of my 500 posts transferred. I tried again. About twenty more transferred.

And so on. Finally, I had all my posts on the new website.

I asked the WPBeginner people if this was common, and I was told that if the blog is big and has lots of photos or other attachments, then, yes, it can take a long time to import everything

6. Will I keep my subscribers?

I think the answer to this is yes, but I can’t honestly be sure. All the old subscribers show up in my WordPress statistics, but I can’t be sure what readers are seeing. My regular readers seem to have found the new site, but some people who used to comment on the WordPress.com blog do not seem to have followed me.

In addition, the new site no longer ranks as high on Google searches as my old blog did. I think Google must give priority in their rankings to WordPress.com—a priority my humble domain TheresaHuppAuthor.com doesn’t receive. I’ve noticed that some of my posts linked to Google+ do show up on the first page of search results, and clicking on those does get me to the new website.

I’m still linking to social media sites, so over time, I hope people will find me and that this issue becomes minimal.

7. How do I upload new posts?

I launched the website on a Wednesday. I had until Monday to write and upload my next scheduled post. I draft my posts in Scrivener, then copy and paste to the site.

I’ve found that blogging on WordPress.org is a lot like blogging on WordPress.com was five years ago when I started. I’m familiar with how it works, but WordPress.com is much more intuitive now, and I’ve had to remember my old checklists and where things are located, to make sure I get a post ready for publication—categorizing the post, adding tags, scheduling the post for the right day and time, etc.

And I wasn’t sure how to use featured images. I’d never bothered with those in on my blog—I’d just let WordPress.com decide what image to feature. But I didn’t want my website masthead showing up as the featured image all the time, so I now have to specify another image. Which puts that image at the top of the post. Which means that readers will be seeing a lot more large images at the top of my posts in the future.

8. What don’t I know?

There are things I know I don’t know, and there are things I don’t know I don’t know. In the former category, are the following:

  • Everything to do with the hosting service—cPanel and FTP and PHP—acronyms that I can’t even translate.
  • Whether and how to use email on the server or continue to link with my Gmail account.
  • What ongoing maintenance I will need to do.
  • What the best way to back up the site is—I am backing it up regularly, but is it worth it to pay for a backup service?
  • What additional functionality should I add with plug-ins and widgets?
  • What could I do with e-commerce that would be as easy and profitable as Amazon’s online fulfillment and royalty payments?

In the latter category—what I don’t know I don’t know—you’ll have to tell me.

This has not been an easy process, and I’m not totally satisfied with the result at this point. I’m open to suggestions.

Readers, what changes to my website would you like to see? Please leave a comment or contact me. Nothing is too small to suggest—fonts, layout, whatever you’d like to see me do differently.

Where Am I on Social Media? And Where Are You?

stocksnap_3czq87f245-computer-womanUsing social media takes a lot of time. Some of it is wasted time, some of it is productive—at least in terms of learning what our friends are doing and thinking. Now that the election is over, I can read most people’s posts without my blood pressure rising.

Authors are told to be active on social media, though most marketing gurus now say you don’t have to be everywhere—choose a couple of platforms where your audience is, and emphasize those. I’ve tried to focus my attention to a few sites, using passive links to provide content to the rest.

So where am I on social media?

I post most of my “new” content on this blog. I write about my life and my writing and share it with readers on Monday and Wednesday each week. For the most direct connection with me, you should subscribe to this blog.

I link most of my blog posts to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and LinkedIn. I almost always link to my Facebook author page, and I post some new content about writing there also.

If I think my posts are of interest to my “real” friends, I post to my personal Facebook page as well. I also put passive links to my blog posts on my Amazon Author Page and on my Goodreads Author Page, but I rarely update those pages directly.

I’m fairly active on Facebook, so if you want to start a conversation with me and don’t want to comment on a post here on WordPress, my Facebook author page is the best place to find me. I have made several new friends this way and also reconnected with old friends and acquaintances—which is one of the prime benefits of social media.

I’m on Twitter, but I don’t do much with my personal handle (@MTHupp). I joined Twitter to follow my son, though I admit I have more followers than close friends and family now.

My son moved on to Instagram, so I created an Instagram account, but I don’t do much with it. Other than to look at pictures of my son’s dog and my niece’s kids. It’s the best way I’ve found to stay connected with them.

I wonder what the next new thing will be? I’ll have to follow where the younger generation leads me.

I have a Pinterest page, and I’ve linked some of my blog posts to my Pinterest boards (check out my Story & History board, and I also have Oregon Trail and California Gold Rush boards). Unfortunately, I find Pinterest even more addictive than Facebook, so I don’t go there very frequently—if I did, I would waste hours.

WBT Impact ArchI’m also active as part of the Write Brain Trust group for self-published authors. We maintain a public presence on Facebook and Twitter. I curate many of the posts on those sites. What I try to do is to post the best of what I read about writing and publishing on the Write Brain Trust sites for the benefit of other writers.

RLKC profile picThrough Write Brain Trust, we’ve also launched a Facebook page for readers, Read Local Kansas City. A group of Kansas City authors finds people of interest to Kansas City area readers to spotlight each week, and we also post information about literary events and library happenings in the region. We’d love to add more Kansas City area readers—so please like this page, if you’re interested. Read Local Kansas City is also present on Twitter (@ReadLocalKC).

Take a moment to explore all the links in this post. Writers want their work to be accessible to readers, wherever readers are. I hope each of you will follow me wherever you like to hang out. And I’m always open to feedback.

Readers, what social media platform is your favorite? Why? Or do you avoid it all?