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?

Salvaging Nooks and Books

I’ve written before about my love/hate relationship with technology. That post recently showed up on my Facebook memories, so I reposted it on Facebook with a comment:

“Unfortunately, it’s been three years since this post. More computer upgrades can’t be too far in my future.”

That was on January 23, 2016, at 5:54pm.

About 9:30 that evening, as I was multitasking between PBS’s Mercy Street and a game of Solitaire on my Nook HD, the Nook began sending weird messages.

“Process X broken.”

“Process Y broken.”

There must have been about twenty of those messages, one after another.

Though, of course, the processes weren’t labeled neatly X or Y. They weren’t labeled with English words either. They were labeled with some unintelligible strings of mixed letters and numbers.

I knew it couldn’t be good.

In fact, my Nook HD froze. I couldn’t do anything with it. I powered off. I powered back on. Nothing. It got to the 99% rebooted mark and froze again.

Repeatedly.

I went to bed, knowing I would have to deal with the problem. After all, the Nook is my remedy for insomnia.

When I wake in the middle of the night, I read email. Or read Wall Street Journal editorials. Or a few pages of the current novel I am reading. All in an effort to turn off the to-do list scrolling through my head faster than I can scroll down the Nook screen.

That night, instead of reading my now-defunct Nook, I used my middle-of-the-night hours to develop a plan. My first course of action would be to activate my father’s Nook HD, which I helped him buy just a few months before his death. It had far less wear and tear on it than mine, which I’ve used for several hours each day for the three years I have owned it.

I turned on his Nook in the morning. Dead. I recharged the battery. When that was completed, I set up my email accounts on it as well as Overdrive (the app I use to download books from the local library). With email and something to read, I could function, if only at a kindergarten level.

But I discovered my dad’s Nook was of limited use to me. I would not be able to access the Nook books I had downloaded through my Barnes & Noble account unless I deregistered his Nook in his name and reregistered it in mine. Unlike a paper book, ebooks cannot be handed from person to person.

I decided to wait awhile to see if I could figure out a work-around to deregistering his Nook. In the meantime, I began the second step in my plan—a factory reset on my Nook HD. I knew this would be drastic. All personalization would be wiped out. More than the wallpaper backgound picture of Langley, all my files would be deleted. I would have to set up a blank device.

But I pulled the plug. Or rather, I pushed the Power button and the Home button at the same time until the device was nuked.

And then I set up my email and Overdrive on my Nook HD, just like I had on my dad’s. Once I had logged back in to my Barnes & Noble account, all my Nook books and Nook apps were out there, waiting for me to download.

I’ve chosen to be judicious about what I download. I don’t need half the stuff I had on my Nook HD, and I suspect part of the problem with it had been that it was chock full. Crammed. No bytes left to swallow more apps or data.

2 nooks 20160201_132834I’m semi-functional on both Nook HDs at the moment. And I’m in the market for a new tablet. I have loved Nooks for the past five years—first my Nook Color and then my Nook HD. But I think the market has moved beyond dedicated e-readers. In fact, the Nook HD is now essentially an Android tablet with close ties to Barnes & Noble. So close that Barnes & Noble refuses to let users download the Android B&N app to the Nook HD, though we can download the Kindle app.

Still, although I have loved my Nook HD, I have been less than impressed with Barnes & Noble as an ebook provider—both as an author and as a reader. As an author, I have found that almost all of my ebook sales have been Kindle sales, not Nook. Reader traffic is flocking to the Kindle. Amazon is better at providing support to authors than Barnes & Noble.

As a reader, I have not found Barnes & Noble to be very accommodating in helping me to manage my account and ebook purchases. As an example, my son gave me two Nook books for Christmas via one of my email addresses. I redeemed the books, then found I could not open them on my Nook HD, because it was registered under another of my email addresses. When I contacted Barnes & Noble for help, they said essentially “sorry, we can’t switch your books to your other email.” So I can read the books on my cell phone, where I have downloaded the Nook app, but I cannot read the books on the larger Nook HD screen.

So I think I am about to abandon my loyalty to Barnes & Noble and the five-year history I’ve had with Nooks. An open Android tablet is in my future. I won’t be precipitous about making the decision, because I have two semi-functional Nooks on which I can limp along.

But I can’t wait too long—I worry about which of my three-year-old computing devices will go bad next. It’s time.

What technological problems have you faced recently?

More on My Nook HD

IMAG0632A year ago I wrote about my then-new Nook HD and my favorite app at the time—Flipboard. My Nook HD isn’t so new anymore, but I continue to love it.

Shortly after I got my Nook HD for Christmas 2012, Barnes & Noble opened up the Nook HD to non-Nook apps, so it is now essentially a 7-inch Android tablet device. In fact, for Christmas 2013, my husband gave me a Google Nexus 7 tablet, but I returned it. Other than a camera, it didn’t have anything to offer that the Nook HD did not. I have no reason not to like the Nexus 7, but I didn’t need another device, and my Nook HD is still performing fine.

Now that most Android apps work on the Nook HD, I read both Nook ebooks and Kindle ebooks on my Nook. With the Kindle Android app, there is no reason not to. I admit I felt guilty the first time I downloaded a Kindle book for my Nook, because I do feel some brand loyalty to Nook. But Barnes & Noble opened themselves up to my treachery by permitting Nooks to use the Android Kindle app.

Besides, some of my writer friends only publish their ebooks on Kindle. I have published for both Kindle and Nook, and I will continue to do so. Again, my brand loyalty. And a desire to keep Amazon from taking over the publishing and retailing world. But when I can get a free book through Kindle and not through Nook, I will download the Kindle version.

Plus, I still get most of my ebooks through my library’s Overdrive app, which works great on the Nook HD.

IMAG0633I still love the Flipboard app also. I browse the pages like I would a magazine and feast on the gorgeous images. But instead of having to rip pages out of the magazine to save interesting articles (then wonder where I put them in my haphazard non-filing system), I can post the articles directly to Twitter or Facebook or Pinterest or email them to friends. Then I know where they are.

I keep three Twitter accounts—one  in my own name (@MTHupp), one for my pseudonym, and one for a writers’ group known as @WriteBrainTrust. If you’re a reader, please follow my personal Twitter account and/or my Facebook Author page. If you’re a writer, please follow WriteBrainTrust on Twitter and like our Facebook page.

I don’t know what will happen to Barnes & Noble’s Nook business. It is having a hard time financially, and more bad news seems to come weekly. But in me they have one satisfied customer.

Nevertheless, I will survive just fine if Nook goes out of business. At that point I would probably buy an Android tablet such as the Nexus 7. But I’m in no rush.

I also love my new Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone (which I bought after I returned the Nexus 7). But that’s another post.

What is your favorite electronic device and how do you use it?

My Nook HD and Flipboard (My New Favorite App)

I wrote recently about my computer travails, which required me to purchase a new desktop computer and a laptop within just a few weeks of each other. I mentioned I also got a new e-reader – a Nook HD to replace my aging Nook Color. That has been a happier transition.

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Old Nook Color with duct tape on cover

I dropped my Nook Color about a year ago, which resulted in the screen cracking. The crack destroyed the right ½ inch of the screen. As long as I set wide margins, I could read e-books fine on it, but I couldn’t see the time stamp. And I had to guess at the last word in each line of many internet articles or switch to horizontal view to read them. Still, the Nook Color functioned, and I limped along.

Sandy, the Nook-eating Duck Tolling Retriever

Sandy, the Nook-eating Duck Tolling Retriever

Then last Christmas Eve, my father’s dog chewed the Nook Color’s cover. I patched it with duct tape. I wasn’t too upset at the dog, because I had already decided that if Santa wasn’t nice to me, I would buy myself a new e-reader after Christmas.

But on Christmas, I was delighted to receive a brand new Nook HD from my husband, and a lovely cover from his sister. I spent the rest of the day getting to know my new device.

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New Nook HD

IMAG0631

Beautiful cover for my Nook HD

Barnes & Noble has received a lot of negative publicity about their Nook business not meeting expectations. However, I am a big fan of the Nook.

It is true that Amazon’s Kindle has the lion’s share of the e-reader market, and Amazon has more books available to download than Nook. Some self-published authors choose only to use Amazon, in part because of Kindle’s Kindle Select program, which helps authors promote their works.

But I have been able to download almost everything I wanted for my Nook from Barnes & Noble. I believe in open formatting on computer programs, and I want to support the Nook’s use of the more standard epub format over Amazon’s insistence on a proprietary format.

Moreover, the Nook’s interface with Overdrive (the system most public libraries use to check out e-books for free) is strong and getting stronger. I read voraciously, and would be broke if I had to buy all my books. Barnes & Noble partnered with Overdrive before Amazon did, and I could check out e-books from the library for my Nook Color months before Kindle permitted library downloads.

There is a new Overdrive app that allows me to download books to my Nook HD without using a computer at all – I select the book from either of the two libraries where I have accounts (Mid-Continent Public Library, or Kansas City Public Library), click on the download button, and the book magically appears on my Nook HD to read!

IMAG0633

My Flipboard feeds, page 1

But much as I love the Nook HD for reading, Overdrive is not my favorite application for my Nook. I’ve discovered Flipboard. In essence, Flipboard allows users to create their own glossy magazines of feeds from whatever news sources and social media sites they like to use. I use Flipboard’s standard News, Politics, Business, and similar feeds, and I’ve supplemented those with my own Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn feeds.

IMAG0634

U.S. National Park photos from Flipboard

What I love most about Flipboard is the ability to add in feeds from a U.S. National Parks site, from National Geographic, from Sunset magazine, and from Lonely Planet. In addition, a feed called Flipboard Picks has gorgeous pictures and articles on topics I’d never browse on my own, like architecture and art and food.  Users can add RSS text feeds also, but these sites with pictures are so much prettier.

When I’m bored with reading my library books from Overdrive, I switch to Flipboard, and surf till my eyes glaze over.

Flipboard is available for Android devices, and I’ve loaded it on my cell phone also. But the app looks best on a tablet like the Nook HD, with its sharp screen and larger size. In this size, Flipboard is eye candy for readers, updated constantly wherever a wi-fi connection is available.

So here is one customer who hopes that Barnes & Noble’s Nook business will thrive. And that Flipboard feeds will multiply.

What’s your favorite app for your tablet or e-reader?

Family Recipe: A Good Christmas Present

It’s about time to start Christmas shopping, if the store windows are any gauge.

Have you enjoyed this blog? Then consider buying my book, Family Recipe: Sweet and saucy stories, essays, and poems about family life, for the people in your life who might also enjoy my stories. The book would make a good stocking stuffer, or a nice addition to a basket of teas or cookies.

Family Recipe is available in paperback through CreateSpace or Amazon. The ebook is available in two formats – Kindle (MOBI) and Nook (EPUB). For sample essays from this anthology, click here or here.

And if you’ve already read Family Recipe, I would really appreciate you posting a review on Amazon and/or Barnes & Noble.

Many thanks for your support – of this blog, and of my book.

P.S. I have a new short story being published in A Shaker of Margaritas: A Bad Hair Day, an anthology by Mozark Press.   My  story is entitled “Twenty-Four Hour Bugs.” This book of humorous stories would be another good stocking stuffer.

“Family Recipe” anthology now available!

My book Family Recipe: Sweet and saucy stories, essays and poems about family life has now been published by Rickover Publishing.

The paperback is available through

CreateSpace

Amazon

And the ebook is available in two formats:

Kindle (MOBI)

Nook (EPUB)

This book would make a wonderful accompaniment to an Easter basket or Mother’s Day present. I hope you enjoy it.

If you read it, please leave reviews on Amazon or Barnes & Noble, email me, or post comments below. I’d love to know which piece in the book you liked best.

Thank you.