Friend Request

One of the many necessary things aspiring authors must do to build name recognition is to grow an audience of people who enjoy their craft. Sure, we write for ourselves, but I can’t imagine any author with books available for sale who doesn’t have an inner desire for validation from more than friends and family.

Expectations are high in our social-media-saturated world. We are expected to have rich “author platforms” with websites and Facebook pages and newsletters and Twitter accounts and YouTube videos and the list goes on-and-on-and-on. But it’s not enough simply to have those platforms, we’re also expected to be available to our (hopefully growing) audience 24/7. Some authors refuse to play this game called marketing. They argue that they’d rather be writing and working on their next release than interacting with the sometimes unwashed masses.

Yes, we all have different goals as authors, and my goal is to reach as many people as I can with my stories. I want to make them laugh and cry and engage in discussions. I want them to anticipate my next book.

And so, much to my mother’s chagrin, I have been quite open over the years with accepting friend requests willy-nilly. Every new friend is a potential new reader, and except for that 8-month sabbatical I took from the FB world a while back, I’ve never felt the need to “unfriend” anyone. At least not until yesterday.

I clicked “accept friend request” from someone who looked like he could be a West Point classmate and within moments I got a personal message:

hello thank you so much to make me your friend and i like to keep more of you

as good friends so are you in the USA? have nice day..

I read it a couple of times and couldn’t help hearing Borat’s voice. So I wrote back:

Yes, but please tell me why you sent me a friend request?

My immediate concern was that he wanted “to keep more of” me, and although I was pretty sure he didn’t mean it in a “Silence of the Lambs” kind of way, I nevertheless checked out his page. No mutual friends. Just as I was about to delete him, this sad tale popped up:

Thank you so much to make me your friend and i like to keep more of you as

 good friends so  i m from Kansas is in the South, in the North of the United

States, i m 58 and wife die in child birth.i have daughter and one gran son,i m

widowed for 23 year ago.i live alone in my home, i m working as I’m a Civil

Engineer of oil pipelines,I work for myself as a private contractor.I travel with

my work alot. so tell me more about your self? How old are you? Are you

single? Do you have kids? what do you do for a living?  I hope to read back

from you soon

I couldn’t make that up if I tried, and it’s really not as sad when you read it aloud with a Borat accent (my son did this brilliantly and added my new potential “friend” was probably from Kansastan), but within seconds I did what I never thought I’d do to a potential new follower: Unfriend.

Guess I’ll do a bit more snooping before accepting any more silly-willy-nilly friend requests. Pretty sure this one wouldn’t have enjoyed my writing anyway.


Hitting “Delete”

“Either he deleted his Facebook page or he’s blocked me,” said my husband first thing this morning.

“That’s ridiculous,” I said. “Why would he do either?”

Our 20-year-old son Jake is a computer guru, and has been for a very long time. He makes his living doing “computer things.” I open my Facebook page and search his name. I find it and click on it.

Black boxes and emptiness.


I pick up the phone and call him immediately.

“Hey, Mum,” he mumbles. Clearly I have woken him, but I am delighted to hear his voice.

“You okay?” I ask.

“Yeah, just a bit sleepy,” he says.

“Sorry to wake you,” I say, “but we saw that you weren’t on Facebook anymore. How come?”

“Too stressful,” he responds simply.

“Good for you,” I tell him. “If I weren’t such a famous public figure, I might do the same.” He laughs, and so do I. I laugh because I know that as soon as I write about this, I’ll post it to my blog and then link it to my Facebook page. And then I’ll wait for people to give me feedback.

I’m a feedback addict.

I understand what he means about the stress, though, and my decision to remove “Words with Friends” from my new iPhone this year seriously helped me breathe a little easier. I loved the challenge, but I always had about five games going, and although I justified playing because it was “words,” when I really looked at those hours of mental maneuvering of letters to make meaningless “points,” I see that they were hours that could have been better spent.

We live in a world that caters to people like me, the extroverts of the world, the “Look at MEs” of the world, the people who need attention and that burst of excitement that comes when we open our Facebook and see those red notification bubbles.

But I understand the stress that comes with addiction, and wonder now what I’m going to do about it. I can justify all of my status updates as necessary for me to stay connected with and to entertain my friends and family…it’s what extroverts do.

I’ll be waiting for your feedback.



Boom Days Dodger

I’m awake at 05:45 without my alarm after having gone to bed a mere four hours earlier—having enjoyed a long evening of side-splitting laughter with the family and friends who are sharing beds and couches while visiting us this Boom Days weekend. The laughter helped me escape my somber mood from earlier yesterday when my sister called to tell me that our Dad was in the hospital.

I make my signature cheesy eggs and sausage for friends who will board a plane to Germany tomorrow for the next two years. We never made it to Abu Dhabi to visit them these last two years—for which I feel a twinge of guilt—and I promise that we will visit them in Ülm. I intend to keep this promise. They leave with hugs and full bellies, and I am just a little jealous of their new adventure.

At 9 o’clock there are people and floats and noisy, pooping animals traveling down our road to line up for the 10 o’clock parade to kick off Leadville’s Boom Days celebration. I haven’t missed a parade in nine years, and often I’ve even walked in the parade. Today, however, I can’t seem to muster a bit of enthusiasm for the spectacle.

My head is fuzzy—I haven’t slept well these past several nights—and as the rest of the house awakens, I can think of nothing but sleep. Two lovely girls descend the stairs in Victorian dresses, one son and another friend threaten to attend the parade in pajamas and Snuggies, my husband and other son leave for a mountain bike ride in preparation for the Leadville Trail 100 race next Saturday, and I’m already thinking about another houseful of early morning racers in 7 more days.

At 9:50 I know I will not attend the parade and holler at them all to get out of the house—and to not come back for two hours. I’ve got to take a nap, but I’ve got to use the bathroom first, and all three bathrooms are in use. I suppress a wave of resentment by remembering that I love the crazy days of summer, and even more, I love that we have friends and family who want to be with us. I want to live in the moment and be a part of the wacky Wild West festivities.

But my dad is in the hospital, his lungs filling with pneumonia, his skin cancer—after nearly a year of torturous radiation and chemo—raising its ugly head once more, and I want to get on a plane and be there right now. I want to run away from the fun and laughter here and bring some to my mom who has slept far less than I this past year, and to two of my sisters who have been carrying the load along with her.

Everyone leaves, and at 10 o’clock I’m in bed laughing at the foolishness of thinking I can sleep with the steam calliope warming up outside my bedroom window and the olde thyme prop planes buzzing the growing crowds along the parade path. Nevertheless, after seeing 10:25 on the clock beside my bed I fall into a bottomless sleep and I’m pretty sure it’s wonderful.

I awake for the second time today, but startled this time, hearing the clip-clip of hooves and the braying of mules—not unusual for Leadville—and wondering why I am in bed looking at 11:30 on my alarm clock. I check my pillow for drool.

Time to get up; we’re hosting a barbecue for 30 people in four hours. Perhaps I’ll attend some of the fun down town tomorrow.