Social Media: the Twittegooglfacebooketumblring

Over this past year, I’ve been working at the whole social media thing. You know, the whole interconnected mess of blogs, journals, Facebook, Twitter, RSS feeds, and the rest, through which I howl into the wires? I’ve had the pieces lying around for quite a while, but it hasn’t been until this year that I had to put them all together. And that was… and is… a lot of work. Even though things are far more advanced than they were when I first created an Internet journal.

Back in 1998, it was a lot simpler. I coded my first website by hand, and started up my journal with it. Whenever I wanted to do an update, I’d create a new page, write the update, and then would update the archive page, and also previous page to include a ‘next’ link. Then I’d FTP those three pages to my web space, and it was done. Easy peasy!

How would my readers, of whom I eventually had two digits worth, find out I’d written something new? Get this–they’d check my site. No RSS feeds or Networked Blogs then. They’d have long lists of journals in their browser favorites, and they’d visit each site one by one, just to see the updates. Every day. We had a lot more time back then. Also, there were something like twelve journals on the whole Internet.

I gave it up after maybe a year and a half. It took too much time. I was running out of things to say.

Then a friend introduced me to Blogger. It was cutting edge in 2001. You’d just type your words into the square, click a button, and Blogger would update your site for you. It was awesome!

I think I lasted two years with that. Once again, I’d run out of things to say.

Then came LiveJournal, which I joined in 2004. This time, instead of a web interface that updated my site, they kept all the updates on theirs. Even better, I could read the journals of many different people all in one place. I didn’t have to trawl through my favorites list hoping to see updates from people. Those who updated, I’d see right away.

I think it was this that kept me from getting tired of LiveJournal as well. Even when I went through periods when I felt like I had nothing to say, I always had plenty to read. I could go to one place, read it, and get on with my day.

Ever since then, I haven’t dropped any of my social networks. I just seem to collect them, like baseball cards or irritating rashes. Orkut fizzled, but Facebook caught and held me, and Twitter affixed itself to my succulent flesh soon after. I added Dreamwidth mostly as a backup for LiveJournal, on account of all The Drama that was going on about the Russians taking over. I got onto Tumblr because a few friends got on and because it had lots of neat stuff being easily shared. I added Google+ because… because it was there, I think. I don’t know, it was all a blur–see, there were these open bottles, and a shot glass that said ‘drink me,’ and next thing I know there was Lawrence Fishburne and Keanu Reeves, only they were wearing leather bustiers and showing me pictures of funny cats and then I woke up and was on Google+.

(That sort of thing happens far more often than you’d think.)

These days, there are all manner of people who will tell you how to use social media. But, I ask you… where are the people who will tell you how social media is using you? Do you know what will happen if you unfriend someone and that someone turns out to be Skynet? DO YOU???

(Sigh.) Never mind. I’m sure it’s just a little paranoia. I have to go ask the computer to schedule my updates and tweets now, so that they appear when the most people will see them. Very kindly, it tells me the best times.

Then I have to check Twitter. Someone called ‘Colossus’ started following me, and I don’t think it’s the X-Men character…

Gary W. Olson is the author of the dark fantasy novel Brutal Light and several previously published and forthcoming short stories. He can be found via his website, his blog A Taste of Strange, as @gwox on Twitter, and in many other far-flung places on the Internet.

Back from ConClave!

I had a great time at ConClave over the weekend, participating in four panels, attending a few others, and in general chatting with old friends and new. I neglected to take much in the way of pictures this time around, so words shall have to suffice.

On Friday I was on two back-to-back panels — “The Death of an American Author” (a panel on the impact e-books and e-publishing has had and will have on readers, writers, and the industry) with Bryan Thomas Schmidt, Jim C. Hines and Doug Lugthart (a.k.a. L. Warren Douglas), and “Self-Promotion and Networking” (a fairly self-explanatory title) with Bryan Thomas Schmidt and Jim C. Hines. They were the first panels I’d done in fourteen years (since the one panel I did at a con in Virginia in support of the late, lamented Mythic Heroes project of the 90’s, which has nothing to do with the current RPG game of the same name), and happily, thanks to both my preparation before the panels and the welcoming atmosphere created by my co-panelists, I managed to speak up fairly regularly, and managed to sound, much of the time, like my train of thought had actually finished boarding at the station before I let it depart. (This will startle people who know me as either being quiet or as someone who starts sentences with no idea where they’re going to end. There’s a reason I gravitated to being a writer instead of a speaker.)

After that, I got to enjoy part of a wildly entertaining concert by Seanan McGuire, who, in addition to being a very prolific author (both under her own name and as Mira Grant, author of the Hugo-nominated ‘Feed’), is an amazing singer. Some chatting and wandering about rounded out the evening before I headed home (as I live reasonably close to Romulus–the Detroit metro area city, not the Romulan homeworld–I’d decided to skip getting a hotel room for this convention).

Saturday, ordinarly the prime day for any convention, turned out to be a bit truncated for me, as I had to leave mid-afternoon to attend the wedding of two friends. Still, I managed to take a couple spins around the Dealers’ Room, chatted again with Bryan Thomas Schmidt and his publisher (picking up his book, The Worker Prince, in the process), and chatted with more people in the ConSuite. I managed to return late in the evening to be in the audience for a panel on “Michigan’s Most Haunted” locations–of interest more to me as a writer than as a potential believer, but nonetheless fun. And that finished day two.

Sunday got me out early for a panel on “When Should a Series End?” (a panel on that magical time in any book series, movie series, or tv series, when it’s time for a graceful exit, and how it looks when that time goes by without such an exit) with Seanan McGuire, Emmy Jackson, and Jim C. Hines. It was the best attended of the panels I was on, likely because of Seanan’s presence–not just because she was the Guest of Honor, but because she’s a very fun and outgoing person, someone I’d love to listen to in any setting. I managed to get through this panel without actually saying ‘derp derp derp de derp,’ despite the dullness brought on by the truncated sleep I’d gotten. Between that panel and the next, I chatted with folks some, and took one more spin around the Dealer’s room. My last panel, “What Makes a Book Unreadable?” (the varying things that readers might consider to be ‘deal-breakers’ in their enjoyment of a story), with Charles P. Zaglanis and Emmy Jackson. Very sparsely attended, both because it was getting on in the afternoon, when many people had already left, and because we were up against Seanan’s book signing, but also fun, because it went from being a panel to a freewheeling discussion on anything and everything that annoyed us about different books we’d read or movies we’d seen. Once the panel was over, I had to depart right away (to assist with de-walnutting my in-laws’ back yard), so after buying a copy of Emmy Jackson’s book Empty Cradle: the Untimely Death of Corey Sanderson, depart I did.

(Note: Bryan Thomas Schmidt posted his con report earlier today, and it includes a picture of me with the other panelists from the “Death of the American Author” panel. The other panelists were chatting, while I, having noticed the camera, adopted a pose and smile that makes it look like I have a thought balloon with the word ‘derp’ in it–which makes it pretty average for my photos, I’m afraid.)


I’m about done (for now, anyway) with my latest rounds of fussing over this website (, for those of you reading this entry from the RSS feed or NetworkedBlogs or what have you, instead of the actual blog). The primary change was a change of template — while I liked the old one, I decided I needed a three-column setup, and that template was fixed at two columns. The one I have now needed a bit of modification (cutting down the way oversized top image, brightening up the text font so it would not get lost against the grey background, assorted other nit-fixing), but I think it’s ready to go.

I also changed my mind about creating a whole separate site to promote Brutal Light. On paper it sounds good, but I was imagining five or six books down the line how much maintainance I’d be doing on my six or seven websites — updating the Joomla installations, fixing broken modules, etc. So I’m setting it up so it’ll be within this site instead (another reason for changing to a template that gives me more display options), right about… here.

Outside of that, the book trailer for Brutal Light is coming along really well, and should be ready to be unveiled in October. I’m glad to be getting that done, as it means I can get to mapping out all the other promotey stuff I need to do between now and December 1st. And those two short stories I mentioned a couple weeks ago? Submitted. Productive Gary is productive!

The only thing I haven’t done yet is get back to outlining. Which will happen… soon. Yes.

The ants come marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah…

Yes, yes, I know. I skipped my federally mandated Update last week. I was away in strange, Internet-challenged lands (known here as “The Thumb”). Then I came back, and went away again. And again.

It hasn’t all been sunshine and toad-licking, though. I’ve been hacking away at a short story to be submitted to an anthology, which has taken much longer than I expected to settle into acceptable form. But it’s finally (almost) there, and it will be winging its way onward soon. I also polished up an older short work, Fabulous Beasts, and submitted it to a magazine. So, appendages crossed and all that.

I’ve also been working on the book trailer for Brutal Light. I’ve got the images picked out and arranged, and am trying to make a final choice on the music. Have to say, I’m having a lot of fun with Windows Live MovieMaker…

And if that wasn’t enough, I’m working on a website specifically centered around Brutal Light. This main site will have all the info, of course, but as my career progresses, my new stuff will always displace the old, and I’d like to have a site hanging about where Brutal Light will always be front and center.

Then there’s the outline for the sequel I’m really really trying to get back to…