Building Your Social Media Audience? Keep Your Safety in Mind

Firstly, this isn’t an article about how to grow your social media audience.  It is a warning for those new writers venturing out for the first times on the net to market their books.  I recently saw a post by another author about her internet troll/stalker, and how frustrated she was dealing with this person.

The author was young and beautiful.  In my ignorance, I thought she was the common target for those who are looking to scam a woman on the internet, but I was wrong.  At 56 years of age, I have found myself becoming more and more cautious of each friend request I accept.  I question if the photographs on the profile are legit or someone else’s stolen for whatever nefarious purpose.

I’ve learned about Romance scammers who look for middle-aged (that’s definitely me) and lonely ( this is something I’m not) women with the thought of flattering them, romancing them and then trying to get money from them.  They will use photos of attractive males and females (beware guys!) stolen from real people.  Some will use pictures of military men and women with a fabricated story of loss.  Widowed with child(ren) and wanting to find someone with a kind heart, these scammers will be texting you and many other potential marks at the same time.

I did some research on the military aspect and found on http://www.cid.army.mil/romancescam.html  warnings concerning romance and online dating profiles from service members deployed in Afghanistan or elsewhere.  Even military personnel are at risk for these scams.  They have a Sextortion brochure that is very informative on this subject.

Some of the “Red Flags” they’ve identified are valid for both civilians who are targeted by scammers posing as US military members, and for active duty military members who have become targets themselves, and they include:

  • Unknown persons contact you online and attempt to friend you.  You may even have mutual friends or primarily military members as their friends.
  • The scammer uses poor grammar and sentence structure when messaging.  Their responses don’t always make sense as if they didn’t understand the question or they are awkward sounding.
  • The person wishes you to engage in an explicit video chat or exchange graphic images almost immediately after initiating contact.
  • They call you by endearments very quickly after becoming friends.  This assists them in the multiple messaging they are engaged in.  They won’t have to remember your name.  Everyone is dear, gorgeous, or babe for example.
  • A video call begins with the female in a state of undress or engaged in a sexual act.
  • They ask for money so they can visit you, get much-needed military equipment, etc.

Opening your marketing to the public means you will encounter a variety of people from many different walks of life.  I’m a cautious individual, and I’ve been surprised at how an innocent exchange about writing can quickly shift as the communications attempt to cross a line.

These are the steps I take to secure my privacy while continuing to interact with the public as I market my books.

  • I only post vague information about myself and my life.  I don’t post any photos of my family.
  • I don’t post personal phone numbers, email addresses or home addresses.
  • When I’m asked a personal question about any of the above, I indicate this is private information.  Sorry.
  • I look at every Twitter page, Facebook page, etc. for the person asking to befriend me.  If there are a variety of entries on various topics, especially books and we have multiple mutual friends, I will accept.  But if they have one or two posts, the account is new, or they have photos or postings I find objectionable, I delete the request.
  • My friend’s list isn’t viewable by anyone but me.
  • I don’t allow Messenger calls from anyone.  (I have had several attempted calls.  Unbelievable!)
  • If anyone crosses the line — I block them, unfollow from every platform, and if need be, report them.

I’m cynical by nature, and I do not need flattery to build my self-esteem, so the attempts that have been made towards me have fallen flat.  Initially, I thought it was funny and would message a bit to see where the scammer would take it.  Not anymore.  The frequency of these attempts is sobering.  I worry about other people who may through their good natures fall victim to these efforts.

Not everyone is out to scam.  Our society isolates so many people, and social media seems like a perfect solution for meeting others and finding new friendships.  Just remember to stay aware, keep professional when promoting your business, and if something doesn’t feel right, go the extra step to take precautions in regards to your privacy.

 

Rising with the Sun

I’m a morning person.  I wasn’t when I was in my 20’s, but I guess over time I’ve learned to appreciate the slow rhythm of early morning.  The windows in our bedroom face the river bluffs to the east, and as the sun begins to ascend morning light spills in.  I don’t set an alarm clock, but utilize Mother Nature and her lovely solar alert to rouse me.

I throw on my workout clothes and prepare to hit the trail.  The little village where I live sits along the Mississippi River and walking along its banks is invigorating in warm weather.  In winter, the winds coming across its icy surface are soul-chilling, so I enjoy my mild weather treks while I can.

I wave at neighbors and stop to chat on occasion, but my mind is focused on two goals–the miles I will cover and the creative process.  img_1961My best ideas have come to me on my walks.  It’s a solitary time for me and the voices in my head offering various possible plot points, dialogue, a twist or two and an idea for another potential book.

As soon as I get back to my home, I grab my story ideas notebook and jot my thoughts down before they are forever lost in the creative ether.  Physically spent at this point, it’s time for the nectar of the gods… Coffee!  This is typically followed by multiple glasses of good old H2O and a healthy smoothie.

My writing day begins after showering and getting into my writing uniform–cut-off jeans and a t-shirt.  I head outside with my laptop and notebook if the weather is nice or into the library to write, update social media and call my mom.  Writing outside is wonderful.  My old job required me to be inside 12 hours each day I worked.  In winter, I would leave for work in the dark and come home in the dark.  Bleek days, those were.

And, who isn’t inspired to write when they are surrounded by their favorite books?  Not me, for sure!  In the winter, it’s IMG_2555perfect to sit with my feet propped up on the ottoman and a cup of aromatic ginger tea next to me.

I try to write 1,500 to 2,000 words each day.  It’s a goal, but when the creative flow is there–it’s magical.  For me, it is essential like oxygen and nourishment.  The section of my brain firing off the impulses which become stories is another muscle requiring exercise each day.  If neglected, it will become lazy and out of shape like other areas (I will refrain from mentioning).

Some days are easier than others to stick to a routine.  I’m like everyone else.  I slack off more often than I should, but aren’t writers supposed to be whimsical?  During those days some of the best ideas come to the surface.  We have to entertain our whimsy or it will die and writing will become a chore, instead of a joy.

My inner whimsy is calling me to come out and play.  Gotta go…

 

My Time in Front of the Camera

Even when I was younger, I hated having my photo taken.  I’m showing my age here, so bear with me–do you remember that episode of Friends where Chandler has a problem smiling for the camera?  Yup, that’s the one.  Funny, right?  Definitely, if you aren’t the one facing the lens.

I am the female version of Chandler.  I think I have the best smile possible and as soon as someone says “Cheese!” it’s over.  My sweet look of serenity has been replaced with the look of a rabid chipmunk on ecstasy, no less.

I have a sister who has perfected the art of looking decades younger as soon as the smartphones come out.  Understand, I’m the person who takes photos of others and then I hide in the back row if I have to be in one.  I’m only 5’3″, so the back row of any group except pre-schoolers means I’m invisible.

“See my shoulder.  That’s me at the Coliseum!”  You get it.

I’m not terrible looking, but my facial muscles haven’t gotten the message yet.  I have a photo or two that I look okay in, but taking selfies to get one decent photo is a  full-time job.  Thank goodness, we have digital now.  Back in the olden days, or should I say my youth, you took a photo or two and after they were developed you picked the least offensive one to use for whatever project needing an image of yourself.

If I take one thousand photos, the odds are, I will get one I won’t find too horrific, and I’ll recognize it immediately and can delete the offending ones forever.  That’s a pro for digital.  The con is everyone and their half-brothers have a camera to take that one photo when you have your mouth stuffed full of pizza or when you are captured in the worst angle possible.  Is that my @** or a Volkswagen?

I hate when people say, “Get my best side.”  For some of us, the best side is back behind the camera.

Today, I had to do a YouTube video.  Not just one snippet of time where I need to contort my features into something pleasing, but minutes of me flipping my hair, rolling my eyes, and showing my old lady face on a medium that can be transmitted around the world.  The incessant babbling of the newly deranged is more coherent than my moments on camera.

Finally, after 45 minutes and about 20 takes, I come up with the least embarrassing video.  I’m sure by the time it’s edited they will remove everything except my rabid chipmunk smile and the two short sentences which will actually make sense.

I wonder if therapy will help?

 

Wow! Thanks, Readers!

I didn’t realize how excited I would be to break Kindle’s top 100 books in three different cIMG_2419ategories with Exodus!!  So thanks to everyone who decided to take a chance and read a brand new author!  I have to enjoy it today, because I may find myself back in the 5 and 6 figure rankings tomorrow.  LOL!!

Addendum to “Building Your Social Media Audience? Keep Your Safety in Mind” Scam Article

This article from the Huffington Post is an interesting read if you want more info about how romance scams on social media work and hear from actual victims of romance scammers, and the victims whose faces and identities are used to perpetrate these multi-million dollar crimes.

How A Billion-Dollar Internet Scam Is Breaking Hearts And Bank Accounts – HuffPost https://apple.news/AR3sO3hJvQi6k9fEJl-I-MQ

Brilliant Baroque at Galleria Borghese — Mae Travels

“A picture is a poem without words.” ― Horace In the center of Rome and in the center of a beautiful park, a collection of artistic treasures swelled up to rest …with zest! Paintings with dramatic faces and scenes… and statues screaming their emotions! Each seemed to convey “I am alive”! And whilst the spectators […]

via Brilliant Baroque at Galleria Borghese — Mae Travels

FADES, DOES THE PICTURE

I’m in a nostalgic mood today, thinking about times long past. This poem by Keith Garrett reflects my mindset.

keithgarrettpoetry

FADES, DOES THE PICTURE

A reel to reel movie, a painting so old,

An old photo album covered in dust.

Growing up in a town long since gone,

Relics, skeletons from our yesterday.

Memories are not so clear, gone with the years,

Sometimes forgotten, at times not remembered.

Blocking out things we wish no longer to see,

The mind is a special place of reality and fantasy.

Sometimes we try to go back from within, inside,

Finding that we are lost, our way is like a fog.

Fades, does the picture, scenes of our time,

A little taken away, as we age from day, to day.

Keith Garrett

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Writer’s Open Forum–Great Fun!

I had a great time at this event. So many wonderful and accomplished veteran writers, publishers and editors. Newbie writers like myself and a crowd of book enthusiasts and writers who are just beginning their journey into publishing their own stories. 

I got to meet a fellow WriteOn member and One Million Project networker, Michele Potter.  

I look forward to implementing all of the useful info from the panels and reading the books I purchased from other authors. And I look forward to getting back together with Michele for lunch. 

Four-wheeling Around Plot Twists and Turns

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