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.

Friday, March 28, 2014

It's a Cinderella Story

It’s that time of the year again. Here in the United States, the annual NCAA basketball tournament known as March Madness, The Big Dance, The Final Four and a host of other names is in full swing. This three-week event kicks off with thirty-two games in two days. Televised, streamed and watched by millions, every second of each game is available for consumption. In fact, the first Thursday and Friday of the tournament were officially the least productive days in the US workforce for the entire year.

Why do millions waste countless hours watching? Two reasons—office pools and Cinderella. Betting on the “brackets” for the tournament is huge. So much so, Warren Buffett, the finance guru, offered one billion dollars for anyone who comes up with a perfect bracket. It’s only a 9.25 quintillion to one chance of winning (by Friday there were no perfect brackets left.)

As for Cinderella, well that’s a whole other story. Millions watch to see the no-name team knock off the perennial favorites—David versus Goliath stuff. University of Dayton and Mercer are shaping up as this year’s Cinderella. If you’re still reading this, you’re probably wondering what any of this has to do with writing and publishing?

The NCAA tournament is like a microcosm of the publishing industry. When fans fill out their brackets, they typically end up with a championship involving a couple of college basketball powerhouses. Meanwhile, as you watch, you find yourself cheering for the huge upsets. A school like Dayton is the self-published author of the group, going up against the machinery of traditional publishing.

We see the same thing in our indies world. We get excited when a Hugh Howey or Martin Crosbie break through, challenging the established publishing industry. We cheer for their success and the success of indie writers in general. Is it because they’re great writers? Maybe. Is it because we all believe in Cinderella? Definitely.

Does anyone remember Florida Gulf Coast University from last year? Just what I thought. That’s one problem with the Cinderella concept. The next year, they don’t make it back. But, not always. Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) squeaked into the tourney as an unknown several years ago and made it to the final four. Since then, they’ve become a force each year in the tournament. Most people today don’t remember that they were the Cinderella—once upon a time.

That’s what we need to do as indie authors, not just make it to the big dance, but get back there each year. The more that happens, the less it becomes a Cinderella story. The more that happens, the more our reputations improve. The more that happens, the more the traditional publishing industry takes notice.

The more that happens, the more readers won’t remember that we were the Cinderella story. Eventually, there won’t be self-published and traditionally published authors … just like VCU isn’t considered a Cinderella anymore. We’ll all be authors, enjoying our time at the big dance.

is the author of the #1 Kindle Bestselling Young Adult novel, The Card and So This is Christmas. He's also a healthcare consultant specializing in helping healthcare companies and practices develop a social media marketing platform, and maximize cash flow. You can find him posting weekly to Indies Unlimited and occasionally as a contributor on Yahoo! 
A version of this post appeared on Indies Unlimited. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Where Did My Hour Go?

Ah, Daylight Savings Time (DST), further proof that society is a slave to the clock. It’s remarkable to think that nearly 100% of the nation moves their entire lives forward one hour. It’s quite an accomplishment considering that billions of dollars, countless person-hours and tons of research have only reduced the number of smokers in our country by 15%.

But, I digress. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Review: Doctor Sleep

Doctor Sleep
Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Loved it. A great continuation from the original story. Stephen King was back in his wheelhouse.

The story is about as good as a sequel can get. Within the first few chapters, you felt as if you just put down The Shining and picked up this book. A re-introduction of a couple of your favorite characters followed by a couple of great scenes will put you right back into the world of Danny Torrance. We all remember Danny, riding his tricycle around the resort and of course his "red rum."

You won't be disappointed with his story, decades later. While bringing the past into the present, King introduces a fresh take with new characters you can root for and villains that will scare your socks off.

Not sure how he pulled off a sequel so long after the original, but he did. Without falling into the trap of a cookie-cutter horror novel, Doctor Sleep is more robust, with deeper meaning than the original. Awesome.

View all my reviews

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Six Things to Avoid if You Want Success

Throughout my life, I’ve been lucky enough to hang around million-dollar athletes, history-making attorneys, world-famous musicians, and friends that you never heard of who change people’s lives for the better every day. The common bond between all of these people is the ability to live life to its fullest on their own terms.

While there is no secret to success, I’ve tried to learn from other successful people who have entered my life, even if only for a minute or two. Today, I’m sharing a few of those lessons. The universe offers boundless rewards and only your own thinking and behaviors can determine how much of it you reap. I’m not saying that I’ve perfected all of these, but I have witnessed the result of both positive and negative influences.

As individuals, each of us has a different definition of success. It isn’t necessarily monetary or fame—the process itself may define success. Whatever your goals, here are a few things to avoid that less-successful individuals typically let guide their life. Once we recognize them, we can make changes that will propel our lives to a different place.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Author Earnings Expands Data Set to Top 54,000 Titles

Hugh Howey has released his latest report to go with last weeks inaugural report. The data remains solid and continues to show the value of self publishing over traditional publishing. Great information and a must read for anyone considering or involved in the writing world.

You can find the breakdown and raw data at Author Earnings The 50K Report.

is the author of the #1 Kindle Bestselling Young Adult novel, The Card and So This is Christmas. He's also a healthcare consultant specializing in helping healthcare companies and practices develop a social media marketing platform, and maximize cash flow. You can find him posting weekly to Indies Unlimited and occasionally as a contributor on Yahoo!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Author Earnings - A Report by Hugh Howey

I know that many of you have seen this report on other forums, but I felt that it was important enough to reblog it here. Hugh Howey's Author Earnings Report has rattled the publishing industry. Posted on his new site, Author Earnings, his report breaks down the self publishing and traditional publishing industry by the numbers. 

Sure, it might have a few flaws, but with the inability to extract exact numbers, this is as close as one could get. I'll be looking for more as they continue to expand the sample size.

Please visit his blog to see the full report ...  http://authorearnings.com/the-report/

Friday, February 7, 2014

Publisher's Weekly Names Top Blogs

As many of you know, I am a weekly contributor on Indies Unlimited, a blog for indie authors and readers. It's chock full of how-to posts, sneak peaks, tutorials, contests, and tons more. 

All of us at Indies Unlimited are stoked by this weeks announcement at Publisher's Weekly. Indies Unlimited was picked among the top six great blogs for indie authors. This is a great honor, considering IU has only been around for a couple of years. You can read the announcement from Publisher's Weekly here.

Thanks to everyone that has taken the time to visit and comment over on IU. You have helped us make it a fantastic resource for indie authors, publishers and readers.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Four Reasons I Watch More Football Than Baseball

On the Road With the M's
The Super Bowl is right around the corner. I’ll enjoy it much more this year because my beloved Seattle Seahawks made it to the big game. I’m an avid Seahawks fan and these days, I watch far more football than baseball. How can that be if my roots are in baseball? I spent eight years working with the Seattle Mariners, on the field and in the clubhouse. I road-tripped with the Mariners and even served as the batboy for the National League during the Major LeagueBaseball All-Star game.

A shift has occurred over the last decade. Does it have anything to do with the lack of success of the current Mariner teams? After all, they haven’t been to the playoffs since 2001. I don’t think that is it, I still follow the Mariners and get excited each spring. As a comparison, the Seahawks had some awful teams during the past decade as well and I continued to watch.