Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Facebook Making Changes to its Privacy Settings in 2015

On January 1, 2015, Facebook is changing its terms of service to include new privacy issues that allow users to control their information. Of course, in Facebook speak, that means that you must be a rocket scientist in order to interpret the terms of service and how to control the new privacy settings.

I will say though, what’s different about this change is that Facebook announced it more than a month before its enactment. Normally they go along and change things on the fly and say, “Oh, by the way, we just changed everything.”

So what does this mean for us? Facebook is introducing “Privacy Basics”, a new system to show you who can see your information, the amount of information that others can see, from all aspects of the platform. They’ve broken down the basics into three categories:
  • What Others See About You
  • How Others Interact With You
  • What You See
It’s important to note that the new launch won’t change any of the settings that are in place now. If you want to have more control over privacy settings, you’ll have to go into these areas to make the changes manually. Here’s a few examples of the things you’ll have access to:

Post- Choose who can see photos and other things you post on Facebook
Profile - Adjust how your profile looks to someone else
Friends List - Don’t you hate it when other people troll your friends list when they view your profile? Now you’ll have and option to control this function.
Search - What do non-friends see when they search for you?
Timeline - Learn how to manage what other people can post on your timeline.
Untagging - This is a big one. You’ll be able to un-tag a picture that someone else has tagged you in. Personally, for me, this drives me nuts. If I want a picture of my family on Facebook, I’ll put it there. Now you’ll be able to control other peoples tags when they pertain to you.
Ads - Back in June, I wrote about some ad issues and ways to minimize what you see through a third-party organization that can help you minimize interest-based ads. Now Facebook has helped you do this through their internal settings. In 2015, you’ll have control (to an extent) of what ads you want to see. In some cases, you’ll be able to go as far as to block a particular advertiser.

Take a few moments after the first of the year to make your Facebook experience work better for you. On Facebook’s Privacy Basics Page, you can read more on each of these new changes. Some options are currently available.

Now is the time is to set a date with your computer to review the privacy settings in Facebook. We’re all looking for a cleaner, less junkified way to use the largest social media platform in the world.

  is the author of the #1 Kindle Bestselling Young Adult novel, The Card and the Holiday Hit, So This is Christmas. A version of this post appeared on Indies Unlimited

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

This is my favorite time of the year—a time to reflect and give thanks. This season reinforces how lucky I am to be a writer. It doesn’t matter if you’ve published or not. Pause for a moment and think about all that is great about being a writer.

Every day, we have a laser focus on our surroundings. There’s a story behind every bush, building, and mountain. We look at bars, churches, and the kitchen different from anyone else. We look for meaning behind the lost glove on the street.

Even when we try to NOT pay attention, we can’t help ourselves. We continually look at our experiences to help us develop story ideas and plots. We see beauty in the smallest things. We conjure entire worlds while examining a snowflake. For this, I give thanks.

Imagine—we’re able to enter the darkest places, encounter the most evil people and return to embrace life and our beautiful surroundings. We invent the perfect romance and proceed to shatter the relationships with disease, violence, or just plain apathy. Once we’re done, we get to return to our own loving family or friends as if nothing ever happened.

Some would say this is a curse. Ha! Not a chance. Few people in this world recognize the gift that we’ve received. Sure there are millions of “indie” writers out there that publish a pile of garbage. So what? When writing calls, writers answer.

Take time and give thanks that we are ones that have the privilege of making sense of our surroundings. We’re the ones that find the hidden stories and make up a few on the way. Even when we don’t hit our word counts or even look at a blank page for a month, we still return to writing … because we can. Wait … not because we can … because we must.

I give thanks because I have found this gift. Who else gets to do what they love and share it with the world? Very few people. I don’t care how much money I make or how many reviews I get—to me writing is about giving back to the universe. It’s about sharing with the 7.1 billion people in the world. No one really knows how many writers there are in the world. If there are roughly 100 million writers worldwide, then we are less than 1.5% of the population.

As you enter this holiday season, don’t worry about all the garbage writers in the world or the one-star review. Embrace everything that is special about being a writer. You are special. The world needs you. The world needs your thoughts and stories. The world needs writers. The world needs books to make you cry, laugh, shiver or just say, “Huh?”

Few things in this world can provide the feeling of being alive. Give thanks that you’re a writer.

  is the author of the #1 Kindle Bestselling Young Adult novel, The Card and the holiday hit, So This is Christmas. A version of this post appeared on Indies Unlimited.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Change: Embrace It

Change … it’s inevitable.

What we do with it makes the difference.

Around every corner, we experience change. It could be as simple as a detour sign on your way to a destination or as complex as moving across the country.

Us writer types, well, sometimes we don’t handle change very well. We need our writing space, our coffee/tea, our M&M’s and whatever else gets us through our writing sessions. Most of us need our routines or we lose all productivity.

As with anything, we need to look at change with the correct eye. Have you ever driven through vast forested areas and seen blocks of trees wiped out—looking like a patchwork pattern throughout the wilderness? Our first reaction is, “How can they do this to this beautiful area?”

Friday, June 20, 2014

Is Google+ Where You Should Be?

It’s been awhile since we’ve talked about Google+. As Facebook loses the interest of many users, Google+ appears to keep growing. For me, the visibility value of time spent on Google+ is far better than the same keystrokes or time on Facebook. From a pure business perspective, you might find that Google+ is the place to be.

Think about your interactions on both platforms. Most people tend to spend a lot of time “talking” to the same people or groups of people on Facebook. What do you do on Google+? It’s not the same is it? Typically, you’re not sharing pictures of your kids and pets. Maybe that’s the secret to increasing your visibility. Go where people don’t know you!

Many of you have developed your Google+ pages but have never really used them. Think about the potential when you interact on a social platform that’s connected to the world’s largest search engine (Google) and the world’s second largest search engine (YouTube). Here’s some tips on how you can build your presence on this interconnected social platform:

Monday, June 16, 2014

Search Engine Ranking - The Power of Social and Search

Search Engine Ranking: The power of social and search
Combining social and search is a powerful combination. 

The days of static websites dictating Search Engine Results Page (SERP) ranking is over. You might even think that setting up a Pinterest or Facebook Page gets you in the game, but it doesn’t. Activity plays a huge role in the business of discoverability. 

Even Google’s Chairman, Eric Schmidt recently admitted in a Bloomberg TV interview discussed in PC Magazine, that they missed the boat on social media. In the interview he said, “At Google, the biggest mistake that I made was not anticipating the rise of a social networking phenomenon … Not a mistake we’re going to make again.”  

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Ultimate Supporter

I was thinking about Lynne Cantwell’s post on “Coping with Unsupportive Support” the other day and it made me think about this indie author/self publishing world we live in. We all need those words of encouragement every now and then. That is why sites like Indies Unlimited and other groups in our social media circles are so important.

It made me ask a question to myself. Do supportive groups or individuals help me reach my goal in writing? Maybe not. Before you all blast me with negative comments, hear me out for a second. As Lynne writes, “… a kind or encouraging word … is often enough to keep us plugging away.”

I agree that we all need positive feedback and support. But, that is not why you’re here. Every one of us is here because we’ve achieved some level of success in our writing venture.

“WHAT? Success?

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Card lands its 50th Review!

It may not seem like much to some, but for me, this was another achievement in the book that just keeps on giving. The Card  received its 50th review, a 5 star review by Helen Gentile. Thank you, Helen, whoever your are!

Not to be outdone, a day later, BAM, #51 hit. It has amazed me that The Card, hitting #1 in three different categories on Amazon, continues to provide enjoyment for years. You never know going into this the shelf life of your novel. It's now been three years and it's still going strong. 

The sequel, The Scorecard, is still in editing mode. While we had hoped to get it out by now, we realize now that it will be toward the middle to end of the summer. Hang tight. Life happens. However, we want to make sure its ready to go before we publish.