Why I Killed My Facebook News Feed

Social media is awesome…until it’s not.

social media word cloud

As some of you know, I have an accountability partner. Her name is Audrey and she owns The Write Services, home of The Author Transformation Alliance. She’s one of the most organized and productive people I know. (Yeah, so in other words — pretty much my total opposite.)

Over a year ago, Audrey mentioned a Google Chrome app called the Facebook News Feed Eradicator. I tried it and was so empty. How would I survive without the constant stream of updates from my thousand-plus friends?!

More importantly, in addition to being a writer and a graphic designer, I’m also a social media manager. I need Facebook to do my job. Or did I?

Several months ago I finally installed the app. It took a few days to get used to but I saw an almost instantaneous spike in my level of productivity. Because it took me less time to do my work, I had more time to spend on things like writing.

In case you were wondering, I’ve self-published two more books under my name and three under a pen name since installing this app on Google Chrome.

FB news feed eradicator

Here’s what my news feed looks like with the app in place. I can add in my own quotes and trust me when I say that I’ve added some harsh ones. More than once my husband has walked past my desk when the quote says “Why aren’t you writing?” and asked me, “Yeah. Why the heck aren’t you writing?”

This past weekend was the fourth anniversary of my father’s death. We had a falling out a couple of years before he died and never spoke again. If I had known it would be the last time I spoke to him, I’m not sure I’d have changed a thing. He was very proud of his white heritage. We disagreed on it more than once. That anniversary coupled with the events in Charlottesville made for an emotional weekend.

By yesterday morning, I just wanted to escape so I removed the app. Yay! My news feed was back! And it was so much fun having my everything back at first. I even thought about playing Words With Friends, which I haven’t touched in months.

This morning, because the news feed was in place, I learned that the mystery writing community lost a beloved short story writer, B.K. Stevens. (This is something I would have learned with the app in place, as I still check the feed a couple of times a day from my phone.) Although we’d been Facebook friends for a few years, we finally met in person last weekend–in Charlottesville, no less–when she was on a panel with another good friend, Phyllis A. Duncan.

The day went downhill from there. Each new status piled more negativity. About an hour ago I decided I had enough and posted this:

I removed the Facebook Newsfeed Eradicator app from Google Chrome for 48 hours. Guess how many words I wrote on my own books during this time. Nothing! And instead of being caught up and ahead of schedule for my clients, I’m barely on time and in danger of missing a deadline.

However, I unfriended two people, made three new friends, and argued with a total stranger who said 45 shouldn’t be held responsible for his insensitive comments because white supremacy pre-dates his term in office.

The app is going back on as soon as I post this. I’ll still have the regular Facebook news feed on my phone and I’ll scroll through a few times a day. I will get notified any time I’m tagged in something or if someone PMs me like normal.

But if I’m going to keep up my self-imposed pace of getting books out and do right by my beloved clients, I can’t spend all my time here.

Do you use Facebook? Head over and follow my Facebook author page if you haven’t already. It’s where I’m most active. Be sure to sign up for my VIP Reader emails. Tomorrow I’m sending out tips based on what helps me maintain a healthy mental attitude when spending so much time online.

 

 

And the winner is…

In the Pirates vs Cowboys showdown, Team Cowboy held the lead pretty much the entire time and won by a landslide. I’m hard at work on LOVE’S GOLD MEDAL and, at the time of this posting, have over 2k words on the page.

Here’s a little preview of the unedited first scene:

Emma Fairchild watched the bouquet sail through the air. No. Please, God, no! Don’t let it—she started to pray but her arm betrayed her, shooting into the air. Her hand wrapped around the stems of the wildflowers as effortlessly as a shortstop catching a pop fly at a baseball game.

Michael, her twelve-year-old son, pumped his fist in the air. “Yeah, go mom!”

“You’re next, Emma!” Caroline Mason mimicked her grandson and then simultaneously raised one eyebrow, winked and tilted her head to the left.

Emma followed her stepmother’s gaze and suppressed a groan. There stood Lincoln Porter in a pair of black jeans, a white shirt, and a bolo tie. Snakeskin boots and a black Stetson completed the ensemble. Before she could look away, the cowboy raised two fingers to the brim of his hat and nodded at her. A smile played at the corner of his mouth.

Before she could respond, Elise Nelson stepped in front of her and nodded at the bouquet of colorful blossoms. “So Emma, when’s the big day?”

Elise Nelson is the youth pastor at First Street Church. She and Emma will get to know each other fairly well when Michael has trouble with bullies and starts hiding things from the adults in his life.

Because Lincoln also had trouble with bullies as a kid, he relates to Michael and tries to help…even though Emma insists she doesn’t need (or want) a village to help bring up her only child.

Sparks will fly and things will be said, but can these two work out their differences before Michael makes a choice that could affect the rest of his life?

If you missed it, LOVE’S SILVER LINING, which explains how Emma and Michael landed in Sweet Grove, Texas, is now available on Amazon. If you already read it, keep in mind that an honest review means the world to authors like me.

Don’t forget to check out the other Sweet Grove books, too!

Pirates vs Cowboys – Did you pick a team?

Tomorrow is the final day to enter to win $100 or a free Kindle. All you have to do is visit the LitRing website and Facebook-stalk a few authors.

The authors don’t even mind. I mean, it’s why we signed up!

But wait, there’s more…

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I’m a rootin’ tootin’ member of Team Cowboy, which is appropriate given the release of LOVE’S SILVER LINING two short weeks ago. If you’re not familiar with the title, here’s the plot in a nutshell:

When Caroline Mason follows her husband to his childhood home of Sweet Grove, Texas, a shocking confession rocks the foundation of their marriage.

Because my mind (and heart) are still in Sweet Grove, it seemed only natural that I’d dive into the sequel, LOVE’S GOLD MEDAL, where we learn more about Emma Fairchild who moved to Sweet Grove to find her birth family but didn’t plan on losing her heart.

However, I’m also writing a cozy mystery called THE POSTMAN ALWAYS DIES TWICE. Outside of my writing groups, not too many people have heard about it. Basically, what happens is:

If Maggie Sawyer had known her obsession with coffee would lead to her witnessing a murder-in-progress, she’d have stayed home and steeped tea instead.

Which one to write next, though?

piratesvscowboysbanner

So when Melissa Storm asked me if I was interested in taking part in the TeamHop, it seemed a perfect way to decide what to write next. A win for Team Cowboy means I’ll write LOVE’S GOLD MEDAL but if Team Pirate takes it then I’ll finish the self-edits on THE POSTMAN ALWAYS DIES TWICE and send it off to my editor.

Either way, you guys win because I’m constantly working on something else to add to my Amazon author page so you’ll have something new to read.

I’d love to hear which book you’d like to read next. Why not drop me a message on Facebook to let me know?

Mind the Gap

Did you miss me? After years of consistent weekly blogging, there was a six-month gap between posts.

gap (n.)
1. a break or hole in an object or between two objects
2. a space or interval; a break in continuity
© 2017 Oxford University Press

The end of 2016 was so terrible and then no sooner had 2017 arrived when someone verbally attacked my writing style. I needed a break — not from writing, but from a lot of the distractions.

gap year (n.)
A period of an academic year, taken by a student as a break between school and university or a college education.
© 2017 Oxford University Press

My break wasn’t so different than a student’s gap year. Instead of exploring the world and its cultures, I explored the world and cultures of my characters. I put my butt in the chair and kept my hands on the keyboard. I wrote every single day.I’m still writing every single day. The results have been astounding.

I’m still writing every single day. The results have been astounding.

 

haunted women 5 book set - small version
These covers are better than the originals but I’m still not completely happy with them. Once all five books are out, I’ll likely rebrand again using Chris Fox’s book as a guide.

 

In addition to a rebrand of the Haunted Women Tales (which included publishing the next installment, ROAD TRIP) I’ve ghost written novellas (soon to be four) and, as of last week, added LOVE’S SILVER LINING to the First Street Church series for Kindle Worlds.

Without the distractions, my mind is more focused. I’m finally living an author-centric life and I love it. Working more means less free time — which means I’m more stingy about how I spend it. 99% of the time it’s going to be with my husband or our sons.

I also added the “News Feed Eradicator” app to Google Chrome. It replaces my news feed on Facebook with inspirational quotes as well as ones I added, such as “The road to hell really is paved with adverbs” and “Why the hell aren’t you writing?”

 

my vision board
My authorship vision board.

 

The Author Transformation Alliance has been a big part of my, well, transformation. A membership group with a low monthly fee, it offers weekly challenges to help writers grow and stretch outside their comfort zones. Some challenges are a bit more daunting than others.

During “Vision Board” week, I used Canva to create the above image. I wanted to spend more time with my dog, achieve higher book sales, take more time to relax, finish THE POSTMAN ALWAYS DIES TWICE and mail it to this fella in the Big Apple, and at least plot the sequel, KICKED THE BUCKET LIST.

Oh, and someday I’d like to have one of my books turned into a Hallmark movie. Considering how many friends and acquaintances I know through Facebook who have had this happen, it’s a realistic goal. I have to work hard and avoid the bad habits and negativity that dragged me down prior to my six-month gap.

If you’re having trouble getting words on the page, then maybe it’s time to take a little breather and refocus your energy. Go somewhere without WiFi or put your computer in “airplane mode” and write. We’ll be here when you get back and we can’t wait to read what you’ve written.

Come Hang Out with Me Online Today!

litring giveaway

The authors of the First Street Church romance series for Kindle Worlds have taken over the LitRing VIP Readers group on Facebook. You can hang out with me there today from 4 pm to 8 pm EST.

In addition to sharing more about Tucker and Caroline’s story in LOVE’S SILVER LINING, I’ll also be giving a sneak peek at the next book, LOVE’S GOLD MEDAL and my paranormal series, The Haunted Women Tales.

One lucky reader will win the prize package in the picture! It contains everything the Sweet Grove readers received — a tote bag, books, an audiobook, a journal, and chocolate — as well as $100! You could buy all the Sweet Grove books and more with that kind of cash.

Don’t forget to sign up for my VIP Reader list so you can get tomorrow’s email. It’s short, personal, and has a recipe that you and your family are sure to love.

Love’s Silver Lining is here!

FSC Silver Lining - Twitter.png

Today is the day! LOVE’S SILVER LINING is now available on Amazon. It’s hard to believe that it’s been only three short months since I first requested more information about this Kindle Worlds series. Here’s a bit more about the book:

Moving home to Sweet Grove, Texas promises Tucker Mason stable memories to ease his failing mind. With the support of his wife, Caroline, he participates in a clinical trial to help control his dementia symptoms. Things take a turn for the better but then a shocking confession makes Caroline question everything she thought she ever knew about her husband.

Click the book cover below to read the synopsis and get your own copy of LOVE’S SILVER LINING. Don’t forget to sign up for my VIP Readers list by clicking “newsletter” on my Facebook author page if you’d like to be the first to get exclusive content not shared in the books.

FSC Love's Silver Lining Book Cover

 

Goodbye, Gibson Girl

gibson 2

Around Memorial Day, 2013 a couple knocked on our door and asked if we were missing a dog. No, we said. We certainly were not missing a dog.

Except we were missing her, and we didn’t know it yet.

We agreed to keep this stray until her real owners came forward and, if they didn’t, we’d make a decision about what to do with her. Ha, ha, ha. Who were we fooling? She wasn’t going anywhere and she knew it.

Gibson, a Corgi-Rottweiler mix, was a plump little sausage roll of a dog. Her spring loaded legs launched her farther than we could have imagined to tall places like the seat of our SUV and the rim of the steel 39-gallon trashcan by our back door.

When nobody claimed her we made an appointment to have her spayed and get her updated on whatever shots dogs need. The veterinarian estimated at that time, based on her physical condition and the condition of her teeth, that Gibson was probably between six and ten years old.

Adopting a senior pet makes the time you have with them sweeter because you know there’s less time available. We always knew the day would come when we would have to say goodbye. Every day she was in our lives was one day closer to the day she wouldn’t be with us.

“She’s so old,” we’d muse. “It’s a wonder she still gets around as well as she does.”

At the sight of a leash, Gibson would lay on her side and refuse to make eye contact. Despite being a free-range dog, the only time she left the property was to skirt the neighbor’s yards.

So you can imagine our concern last Sunday when she failed to return from her lunchtime romp through the backyard. Throughout the rest of the day and into the evening there was no luck. I put out a BOLO alert on our local missing pets and neighborhood groups on Facebook.

The next morning one of our other dogs led our youngest son to the edge of our yard. Gibson was there, having passed away from natural causes. Although we’re heartbroken, we’re comforted by the knowledge that she had a really great life for the past four years.

I hope that Gibby-girl, my little plumpkin, is hanging out with Gingerbelle and Gideon over the Rainbow Bridge with an unlimited supply of dog treats and tennis balls.