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What the Music Industry Can Teach Us About the Publishing One, Part 2

Hello and welcome back music lovers and readers!  We’re continuing our chat about the music industry and what we can learn from it in terms of the publishing field.  Missed out on Part 1?  No fear!  Click here!

What’s our focus today?

Social Media in the Music Industry

But first, meet our band!

TUGG:  Andrew Hughes-Vocals/Guitar, Joe Gantzer-Guitar/Keyboard, Jake McLees-Bass, and Ben Rohde-Drums

(Excerpt from their California Tour DVD – filmed and edited by Rob Born, Resident Cameraman, literally…He told me I’m his favorite roommate!)  *grins*

Here them play!  

And see more mustaches.

Bradley Was a DJ

Lovers Rock

Like the tunes?  You can win both songs and more by commenting on today’s post!  Chances improve by commenting on Part 1 or tweeting both posts!  Winner receives a FREE copy of TUGG’s full album:

Come Sunrise

Social Media:  The Why’s, the What’s In It For Me, and its Wonders (fans!)

Jess:  There are many positive effects surrounding e-publishing:  readers can check out excerpts of your book before buying, cost is less overall, authors earn more (on average), receipt of the product is instant.  But all these advancements mean we market and perform differently.  Book clubs and book bloggers have become a widely watched group of people because their reviews are now driving book sales.  Do you think the impact on music sales or concert attendance is as driven by audience at this time?

Andy:  Yes I do.  The audience is driving the boat.  We’re an independent band so we can’t book a tour on the promise or premise that we’ll sell out the venue.  The promoters and venues have to trust that we have the audience reach or the potential to reach the audience in that market.  When we get to a point within a market that we know we’ll be successful I think it changes.  We control our own destiny a little bit more and then it becomes our responsibility to grow that market and make sure we are doing a good job of getting our products into their hands.

Blogging for authors has become a way for the writer to interact with his readers.  We can get to know one another by commenting and sharing personal stories.  In what ways does the band outreach to its listeners?

We’re constantly doing Social Media and meeting our friends/fans.  When we meet folks at shows we always try and get connected with them on a social media platform or exchange numbers so we can text them.  Anyway that we can keep the conversation open and let them know when we’ll be back in their town.  Our audience, which become our friends is the backbone of everything we do.  When we go to a new market, our goal is simple.  Make at least 1 new friend on this night and in this city.  If we can at the very least do that we’re successful.  The second part of that equation is that hopefully and usually that 1 friend brings a friend the next time.  So if we do our job well and keep in touch with the first friend, hopefully everytime we come back to that city our crowd grows outward from that one fan.  Then you start having more and more little groups that just keep growing.  Honestly, those are the folks that year after year are who we put on our guest-list when we play, that original friend we made on our first or second time through a city.

When we go to a new market, our goal is simple.  Make at least 1 new friend on this night and in this city.

We also have found it to be important to keep sharing our music and ideas with our friends.  Sites like Bandcamp and Jam’s Space, and YouTube have been a  great way for us to keep offering our true friends/fans incentives, free music, etc.

L to R: Andrew Hughes, Ben Rohde, Jake McLees; Center: Joe Gantzer

What’s the best way a fan can support the band?

The best way for someone to support us is to friend us, like us, follow us, share us, etc on Social Media and our website http://www.tuggmusic.com.  From there, buying our albums and merchandise from us at our shows is the best way to monetarily support the band.  If you are not able to get to a show then buying and sharing our albums on things like iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Spotify, etc are also solid ways to show support.  We’re all about sharing.  In our industry sharing is truly caring.  If we can get 50 people in 1 day to share our Facebook Page (www.facebook.com/tuggmusic) in a few days and we get 100 more “likes” it means everything.

Growing fans is like oxygen for artists and performers.  We thrive on our audience’s excitement.  With technology’s advancements for instant download of a book or album, they’re also much hungrier for “the next big thing” that much quicker.  Many writers have released novellas and flash fiction pieces to maintain presence in the reader’s mind.  Do you think the same process applies in music with the increase in singles and EP’s?

Yes definitely.  We’ve talked about this as a band and we’re actually in the middle of releasing music for this very reason.  We live in a “what have you done for me lately” society and it is no different being a musician/artist.  As you said, everyone is looking for the next big release or next big something constantly.  We were releasing 1 album a year for our first 3-4 years and we feel like we’re behind.  We’re actually going to release some tracks that we recorded around the time we did our last EP Home Brew as it’s own EP on iTunes digitally.  We will begin to record our next full length album at the end of this month.  We figured that doing this release now will give us a little room and space to release the full length album on our own terms as far as a timetable.  It’s nice to be able to put something out and then put your head down to work on the next when the rest of the world is just starting to digest that release…..at least that is our plan.

How has social media changed the number of your followers?  Do you think it has impacted your music sales?

Yes it completely has.  Our last 3 albums have gone to the Top 50 Chart on iTunes Reggae.  Our last album Home Brew went to #2 and it is directly because of Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter in that order.  It has also changed the way in which we can tour and hit markets when we play out.  Because of Facebook and Twitter we are able to pack in places consistently and keep our overhead lower.  We don’t have to spend a whole lot of money on advertisements but we can still bring people into venues so it’s a definite win and something that has changed the way we do business for the better.

[Social media] has also changed the way in which we can tour and hit markets when we play out.

The writing community is full of wonderful, talented individuals.  But the act of writing is a solitary career.  How would your life be different as a solo musician?  What has the band meant to you personally and professionally?

My life as a solo musician would be a completely new experience.  I started music as part of a band and I have always been a part of a group.  I learned guitar so that I could musically contribute to the group dynamic.  For me, all I know about music is about being with a group of people that collaborate to create.  I don’t know if I could be a “Solo Musician”.  I think I need that group dynamic around me to feel comfortable with what I do.  It’s easier to know your place, what to do.  I know how I fit into the group and what my contributions must be.  I’ve also been lucky, especially with the lineup now to be surrounded by some of the most talented people I’ve ever known, so I try and be like a sponge most of the time….musically speaking.  A lot of my learning and growth as a musician and a songwriter is done like that.  Soaking up a little of the sheer greatness that’s constantly moving around me.  Besides the technical aspect of creating music with a group I will have to say that being in this band, and hopefully to anyone else that does what I do…being in a band is one of the greatest feelings you can know.  You form a brothership and there is this sense of comradery that I can’t really explain and there’s is really nothing else like it…

Truth:  Worst thing about being on tour.

Missing my wife and daughters.

Best thing about being on tour.  And where was your favorite show played so far?

Creating experiences through music and getting to share those with my best friends.  Also, the people we get to meet and some of the sights we get to see.

Favorite show: House of Blues Chicago with The Dirty Heads on St. Patrick’s Day (Sold Out)

What do you predict is next for the music industry?  Any wishes for the next 10 years?

I don’t know what’s next for the music industry other than it’s going to change, and it’s going to happen quick.  
I think that as far as format (Mp3 downloads on iTunes, etc) it will stay generally the way it is for a while but the delivery method is going to get crazy.  So there, that is my prediction.  Something huge is going to happen with the Delivery Format of music.  Like we’ll get into our shower and the shower head is going to ask us if we want to download the latest Katy Perry Record or something, haha.

My wishes for the next 10 years is to be able to continue doing what I am doing and hopefully being able to grow it into something that me and the band can comfortably do full-time.

Andy, thank you again for  contributing your thoughts on what it takes to stay competitive and smart in our industries!  Social media is everywhere now, but you have to use it wisely to be successful, and TUGG is definitely exhibiting some smart business moves and growing a fan base from your interactions!  Much success to all of you!

TUGG’s official website

TUGG on Facebook

TUGG on Twitter

Got a question for TUGG?  Share an opinion on social media?  What’s your favorite medium?  I think mine’s Twitter…which is funny cuz I can’t write short blog posts to save my life!

Happy Weekend Everyone!  See you in the comments section!

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Scams: A Guest Post by David N. Walker

It’s another round of the Life List Club blog hop!  Here with me today is David N. Walker, Texan Extraordinaire!  He’s here today to teach us all a lesson about scams.  And you can find me over at Jenny Hansen’s blog, More Cowbell, talking about why wearing pajamas might be the best thing you do for your career!  Sort of…

You can also visit the other Life List Club crew by clicking on any of the names in the sidebars of our blogs and we’ll all be around in the comments section!  See you there!

Scams by David N. Walker

WANA: We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.

Not too long ago, everyone in my Yahoo contact list received an email purporting to be from me and stating that I was stranded in Madrid penniless and without ID because I’d been mugged. More recently I received this email.

Dear Sir/Madam,

My name is Barrister Manuel Francisco Suarez Calafell, an Attorney at Law, in Madrid-Espana.

I am writing to notify you of the unclaimed inheritance deposit (US$37.3Million) of our late client, Mr. MROTZEK GERD who passed on to the Great beyond on August 21st, 2008 in the Spanair Flight JK-502 2 Crash in Madrid.

I got your name and email address through a web search engine in my quest to get a reliable individual who shall work with me in claiming this inheritance deposit since all efforts to get the biological relative has proved abortive.

Conclusively, I await your urgent response to include the following:(1).Your full Names & Address. (2).Your Telephone and Fax numbers. (3).Your business name if any: for more information on how to release the inheritance deposit, procedure and legality of this claim via email: manuelfrancisccalafell.suarez@aim.com

Regards,
Manuel Francisco Suarez Calafell (Esq)
Attorney At Law

Has Spain become the new Nigeria? I haven’t received anything lately from any Nigerian bankers asking me for a processing fee so they could send me several million dollars. Maybe someone from Spain stole all their computers.

Have you been spammed with any junk like this letter? Had your email account commandeered or your identity stolen? This seems to be growing in seriousness.

David N. Walker is a Christian father and grandfather, a grounded pilot and a near-scratch golfer who had to give up the game because of shoulder problems. A graduate of Duke University, he spent 42 years as a health insurance agent. Most of that career was spent in Texas, but for a few years he traveled many other states. He started writing about 20 years ago, and has six unpublished novels to use as primers on how NOT to write fiction. Since his retirement from insurance a few years ago, he has devoted his time to helping Kristen Lamb start Warrior Writers’ Boot Camp and trying to learn to write a successful novel himself.

Three Ways to Trick Yourself Into Organizing Your Social Media

Happy Life List Club Friday, everyone! I’m so happy to be here at Jess’ Happiness Project again. It’s so much fun ’cause you never know what could happen. She could jump out from behind the screen in a crazy costume or bring in a critter she found on vacation, like that baby alligator, and scare the you-know-what right out of me!

“Who me?”

Anyway, Jess is occupied now over at the blog of our newest Life List Club writer, Lara Schiffbauer. PLEASE go over to visit Jess when you’re done here so I won’t get pranked. While you’re there, say ‘Hi’ to Lara and introduce yourself. So, while I’m here and Jess is over there, Sonia Medeiros is at my blog Doing The Write Thing by entertaining you all. Stop by and give her some comment luv, too, would you? Thanks.

Note: Since I began writing this post, several other bloggers’ posts have been published with similar and/or additional useful information. I’ll link to some of those posts in the body of mine.

I know, you’re asking why should you have to tone down your socializing. Being social and friendly is so much more fun than working, right? Right.  You can socialize all you want IF you don’t have a day job, a book to write, a family to feed, a need to sleep now and then.

We’ve all admitted to having a very full schedule and now we’re adding social media networking on top of it. That means you have to allot a specified amount of time to take care of your social networking ‘needs’. I’m going to show you how you can have fun and not overdo it at the same time. Bonus – you’ll also be able to keep track of whom you’ve visited or supported!

My Desk Before*

Now don’t get the idea that any of these organizational skills come naturally. Uh, uh. Only since I’ve been retired have I had the time to work at being organized. Prior to that, it was hit-or-miss success with keeping it all together. I have always been a list maker and that’s the ONLY thing that saved my butt previously. Even now, it’s a struggle but it keeps my fading memory from totally burning out.

One important thing to remember: Writing is a business. Start treating it like one and you’ll be amazed how productive you can be.

Roll up those sleeves. We’re about to start working smarter, not harder, at keeping up with our self-imposed obligations to network and support others.

1. Get Tough – Make a list of all the blogs you follow. Assess each blog on the list and decide if it falls into one or more of the following categories: Blogs I LOVE, Blogs with info I NEED. Some will overlap categories and some won’t fit at all. For those that don’t fit into either category–UNSUBSCRIBE.

While you’re listing them, put them into a spreadsheet format where you can keep track of whom you visited. Fabio Bueno published a great post on this so, instead of writing my own explanation, check out his HERE.

Overall, I probably cut out about 1/3 of the blogs I was reading. You can do it, too. When you try to find relevance in what they have to offer you and you find there isn’t much–snip, snip. I’m left with the blogs to which I’m comfortable giving my time and support.

 2. My Editorial Plan – a. Take the time to write enough blog posts to cover you for two weeks and then maintain that number. If you just can’t find the time to do that, at the very least, write 2 blog posts that you can save for emergencies.

b. Stockpile a list of topics that are timely, interesting and viable for your blog. I use a big desk calendar–you know the kind with big squares for each day. This is where I plan my topics for each posting day. I write very specific topics on my posting day squares. When the blogs have been written, had photos and links added, and scheduled in the queue, I write DONE in the square. I can see at a glance how many more need to be written or whether I need to go back to a particular post and add pictures.

c. If you use WordPress for your blog, you can schedule a specific publishing date and time, and you can set it up to automatically post your blog to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

d. Planning ahead for Tweeting is even easier when you use TweetDeck or HootSuite to schedule the tweets to go out 2-3 times a day. Jenny Hansen at More Cowbell just posted about a new-ish timesaver for promoting your own blog posts, as well as those of others. It’s called Triberr. It will increase the number of people you reach with your posts, too. Check out Jenny’s post HERE, and then watch for her next two posts in the series that further explain this new idea.

My Desk After*

3. Watch the Clock – Decide how much time you can realistically devote to social media. Your WIP writing should take precedence. After all, you’ll have no writing business without the written product. Determine how many hours you need to devote to your WIP.

Then comes the foundation of your platform, your blog. How much time do you need to keep up with it each week? For example, if it takes you 2 hours to write posts for your Wednesday theme and 3 hours to write for your Friday theme, 30 minutes for ROW80 and your easy day’s post only takes 1 hour, you need 6 1/2 -7 hours a week to write for your blog.

How many hours do you have left in your week for other social media? You still need to read other blogs, comment on them and tweet/facebook/google+ them.

This is where you begin feeling overwhelmed, right? I’m going to set you free from guilt right now! No matter what your schedule looks like –

No one has unlimited time to support and network with other writers, friends, and associates. You are not alone!

Do not feel guilty if you don’t comment on every post everyday-even for your close friends. If you can’t keep up, shorten your list. Choose one day a week to visit, comment and promote. OR Choose to visit, comment and promote on no more than two posts a week for each person. There is no reason to feel a sense of urgency in commenting on blogs. Whenever you are able to visit, the post will be there, still shiny and new for you. Your comment at any time will be appreciated.

If you’re regularly following more than 25 blogs, you should take a closer look at how many of those are really important and beneficial to you, then see where you can make that list more manageable.

Do you have other timesaving practices to share? What’s your biggest time-suck?

*All images from Google

     Marcia Richards is a veteran blogger and author of Marcia Richards’ Blog…Sexy. Smart. From The Heart. Marcia writes about Sweet Obsessions, Women, History, and the path to realizing your dreams. She has a Historical Trilogy and a collection of Short stories in progress. When she’s not writing, she can be found playing with the grandkids or her husband, traveling or turning old furniture into works of art. She believes there is always something new to learn.

Come hang out with Marcia at: http://twitter.com/MarciaARichards or http://facebook.com/MarciaARichards .

Visit Marcia at: http://Marcia-Richards.com

A Most Memorable Thanksgiving: Guest Post by David Walker

Welcome to the great Thanksgiving Blog Swap!  Basically, today you will find me at David’s place, and David is here with me today.  We’re both talking about Thanksgiving.  I encourage you to hop over to David’s and learn about a very meaningful ancestor in my family tree, and here, David’s providing your humorous travel guide to celebrating the holidays in a chill new way!  Enjoy!

A Most Memorable Thanksgiving

When I was growing up, my family joined with two other families in owning a cabin in Ute Park, New Mexico, which is 54 mi southwest of Raton and 43 mi northeast of Taos and about 600 miles from our home in Fort Worth:

We enjoyed spending a week or so there every summer so much that Dad decided one year to go there for what ended up being probably my most memorable Thanksgiving. Before we get into details of the trip, however, I need to tell you a bit about Ute Park and our cabin.

Ute Park sits at an elevation of a bit over 7400 feet above sea level. This makes for wonderful summer temperatures with no airconditioning required. In fact, since the cabin was built as a summer getaway place, we intentionally left a space of several inches open between the walls and the roof, and, of course, there were no interior ceilings in a rustic cabin like that.

Okay, now to Thanksgiving. We were excited as we loaded our 1955 Pontiac Station Wagon for the trip up there. Even with four bickering kids in the car—well, three since I was always perfectly behaved—it was a reasonably enjoyable trip since the wagon allowed us to spread out a bit.

Although I don’t specifically remember, I suspect it was dark when we arrived, since it was nearing winter solstice, and the speed limit was 60 without a single mile of interstate highway. It was a long trip even with summer hours.

What I do specifically remember is that the low temperature the first morning we were there was six degrees Fahrenheit, followed by lows of four and five the other two mornings we were there. Anybody think about that year-round airconditioning built between the walls and roof when we planned this trip? I don’t think so.

Of course, a summer cabin doesn’t have any kind of heating built into it. The only source of heat we had was the range and oven. You should have seen us huddling around that! Or trying to ignore morning and staying under the covers in bed.

The daytime temperatures didn’t really bother us all that much. I guess after such extreme morning lows, even us Texans could handle the rest of the day. We had about as good a time as any family which included one daughter who could never get along with anyone.

The highlight of the trip was Dad’s decision to cut down our own Christmas tree and haul it back home. Why pay $25 or $30 (I think that was about what they cost back then) when you could cut your own for free? After all, we had acres and acres of pine trees around the place.

                                                        

My dad was a brilliant man. High school valedictorian, pretty much all A’s in college, high standing in medical school. Except when he had a brain freeze, which he did at this time.

Once we picked out a tree and cut it down and hauled it back to the cabin, he tied the base of it to the back of the car and the top to the front bumper. Visualize that, although he didn’t. Pine tree limbs grow reaching upward, which means that once we had it tied in that position they were reaching forward.

Anyone see a problem with aerodynamics here? The whole time we were driving down the road, the wind was trying to spread the limbs open—and lift the tree off the car, which it did several times. I don’t know how many times we had to stop and retie it to the car, but we continued to tie it with the limbs facing forward.

The trip home didn’t really take a month. It just seemed like it. Funny, we never heard another suggestion from my dad that we go to Ute Park in the winter—or that we haul a Christmas tree 600 miles across the country to save a few dollars.

David N. Walker is a Christian father and grandfather, a grounded pilot and a near-scratch golfer who had to give up the game because of shoulder problems. A graduate of Duke University, he spent 42 years as a health insurance agent. Most of that career was spent in Texas, but for a few years he traveled many other states. He started writing about 20 years ago, and has six unpublished novels to use as primers on how NOT to write fiction. Since his retirement from insurance a few years ago, he has devoted his time to helping Kristen Lamb start Warrior Writers’ Boot Camp and trying to learn to write a successful novel himself.

Life Lessons from a True Pilot

It’s Life List Friday again!  I hope you all enjoyed the Milestone Party and took time to celebrate your own milestones on your life lists too.  I’m happy to welcome back David Walker, Texas Ranger (sorry, David, I couldn’t resist).  I can be found over at Jennie Bennett’s blog today talking about indulgences, and why you need them.  See you all soon!

David N. Walker is a Christian father and grandfather and a grounded pilot. He cofounded Warrior Writers Boot Camp with Kristen Lamb. You can read more of his posts at http://davwalk.wordpress.com or tweet him at @davidnwalkertx. Today’s blog is not about life goals, but rather about a life lesson learned.

The Arapahoe Airport

My private pilot’s license was less than thirty days old as I pushed the throttle on the Cherokee 140 to the firewall. The 150 horsepower engine came to life, and we began to roll down the runway.

The long runway at Arapahoe Airport—now called Centennial Airport—runs north and south. It had larger planes than mine stacked up for takeoff, so I was directed to the shorter east-west runway. Not to worry. I was used to flying the 140, and in all of my experience I’d never come close to using all the space we had available for takeoff.

Did I mention I had three adults and two small kids piled into this four-place airplane? Did I mention my little sister had brought a suitcase full of used cannonballs? No sweat, though, we still weren’t overloaded since my daughter and nephew were both preschool age.

As we rolled down the runway something seemed amiss. We weren’t gaining speed as fast as we should. Hmmm . . . About two-thirds of the way down the runway I pulled back on the yoke to lift us into the air, and the red stall light came on.

My first thought was thank God the 140 didn’t have a stall horn like Cessnas did. My sister would have gone into a panic, and there’s no telling what might have happened.

Second thought was did I have time to brake to a stop before I ran out of real estate? Someone had thoughtfully put a barbed-wire fence at the end of the runway to separate it from a deep valley just beyond, so overshooting was not an option.

Maintaining a calm exterior somehow or other, I waited until the last second to get all the speed I could and then jerked hard on the yoke to try to lift us into the air. At this point, you’ll just have to take my word for what happened. God sent a couple of angels to toss the plane into the air and over the fence. After figuring out what the problem was, I realized there was no way the plane could have become airborne on its own.

That deep valley I mentioned became very important at this point. I was soon several hundred feet above the ground and could point the nose down slightly to gain airspeed. After a gradual climb to a safe altitude, I relaxed a little and began to ponder what had gone wrong.

Wait a minute . . . density altitude! I’d read about that in my training. I knew that as the ambient temperature rises the effective altitude rises also, but in my flying around Oklahoma City I gave it little thought. So what if the density altitude was 2000 or 2500 feet instead of the actual 1300 feet. No real effect on performance.

But this airport in the suburbs south of Denver sat just under 6000 feet. With the 95 degree heat, the density altitude probably approached the service ceiling of the little 140. How stupid was I?

People had told me that a private pilot’s license is just a license to begin learning to fly. I’d thought of it as a bullet-proof shield. That arrogance and inattention had almost got my daughter, my mother, my sister and my nephew killed.

Unfortunately, I can’t say that was the last mistake I made in flying, but it was the last time I made that particular one. Never again would I just blithely plan a flight without considering the effects of the loaded weight, the altitude of the airport and the heat of the day. Like the Missouri mule, I could learn if you whacked me in the head with a two-by-four to get my attention.

     A graduate of Duke University, I spent 42 years as a health insurance agent. Most of my career was spent in Texas, but for a few years I traveled many other states. I started writing about 20 years ago, and have six unpublished novels to use as primers on how NOT to write fiction. Since my retirement from insurance a few years ago, I have devoted my time to helping Kristen Lamb start Warrior Writers’ Boot Camp and trying to learn to write a successful novel myself.

Breaking a Taboo

Hello friends!  It’s another round of blog-hopping bliss with the Life List Club!  I’m blogging at the marvelous Marcia Richard’s blog and I’m talking about Boot Camp-the Life List kind.  And I’m pleased to welcome a brand new contributor to the Life List Club, guest posting here FIRST on the Happiness Project.  Give it up for David N. Walker, live in Wisconsin from the Texas range!  Ok, maybe not live, but he’s HERE!  Be sure to say hello to the other Life Listers by visiting their blogs using the Life List Club sidebar, or join the twitter party at #LifeListClub.

David N. Walker

David N. Walker is a Christian father and grandfather and a grounded pilot. He cofounded Warrior Writers Boot Camp with Kristen Lamb. You can read more of his posts at http://davwalk.wordpress.com or tweet him at @davidnwalkertx.

Breaking a Taboo

Women can do anything they want. Men have to be more careful. They must be macho at all times. There are certain things we men just don’t do.

For instance, women carry purses, but men can’t do that. Well, okay. I guess some men do. Maybe that wasn’t a good example.

Well, women wear skirts. Men certainly can’t do that. Oops. Guess I’d better not tell anyone in Scotland. They might think I was belittling their traditions.

All right, women wear heels. That’s something men absolutely don’t do. Well, except for Western boots. Or lifts. Or . . .

Hmmm . . .

Okay, women wear makeup. No man would ever do that. What? They do? Are you sure? Oh, well, yeah, of course actors do. Even John Wayne and Sylvester Stallone wore makeup to look right under the lights and cameras. I’m talking about normal men. Really? Are you sure some men do?

Well, maybe my dirty little secret isn’t so earth-shaking after all. I wasn’t going to admit it to anyone, but maybe it’s okay.

You see, last spring my wife and I spent several days with two other couples in a condominium on South Padre Island. One morning the girls left us to go get pedicures. I mean, how ridiculous is that? Spending money just so you don’t have to clip your own toenails.

When they came back they couldn’t quit talking about how good it felt. You’d have thought they’d been to visit male prostitutes or something the way they carried on.

We left to return home the next day, and I thought about all the things they’d said about their pedicures. And I had plenty of time to think on the trip back to Fort Worth. How many of you can take a 618 mile drive, one way, without even leaving your state?

By the time I got home I’d made up my mind I was going to try it. I not only thought about the pleasure the ladies said they got from their pedicures—I thought it might solve a problem I’ve been having in recent years. My arms have been shrinking. I used to be able to sit in a chair and reach my toes with ease. Nowadays I can barely see them.

Oops. Shouldn’t have said that. Now your going to think it has something to do with something growing around my middle instead of my shrinking arms. Well, whatever. Point is, if some pedicurist took over the chore of taking care of my toenails, I wouldn’t have to struggle with that.

When I mentioned it to my wife, I didn’t know whether she’d laugh or file for a divorce or what. Actually, she just said she thought it was a good idea and that I should go for it.

The following morning I stole my way into Wal-Mart. Well, I guess I sorta sidled. Had to keep an eye out to be sure no one I knew was watching when I ducked into the salon. Whew! Made it.

The young lady kept a straight face when I told her I wanted a pedicure. Maybe I wasn’t the first guy in history to do this.

She led me over to this nice, comfortable chair, had me put my feet into this miniature hot tub, and began filling it with warm water. Then she pressed a button that started something in the chair back massaging my back.

Wow. Maybe the girls were right. Maybe there really was something to this.

She spent the next 30 or 40 minutes trimming my toenails, filing them, buffing them, scraping my perennially cracked heels, rubbing unfathomably strange lotions on my feet and lower legs. Did she really have to stop sometime? Couldn’t we just spend the day doing this?

That first time hooked me. I’ve been back four times since then. The first girl did it better than the other two I’ve tried, so I now have her name and a phone number to call for an appointment when I’m ready for my monthly pedicure.

Okay. You macho guys laugh. You don’t have to try this if you don’t want to learn. Just don’t get in my way when I head over there for mine.

What do you think?  Have you ever tried something that’s taboo and found you liked it?  What are the benefits of breaking taboos?  Do you see any disadvantages?  

City Slickers and Social Media

Hello and welcome to the World of Writers in what will now be referred to as the Wild Wild West of Publishing.  Let me introduce to you our panelists who will cover the vast opinions circling social media today:

Patrick McGilligan, Film biographer and Social Media Nay Sayer. If you'd like to know what he thinks about something, please just email.

Josie Brown, Fiction Women's Lit Author and Social Media Champion. Click the image to link to her blog, facebook, or twitter account.

Judy Molland, Non-fiction Writer, Parenting and Social Media Advocate. For answers about teaching, parenting, writing and social media, Judy is your lady, and it comes with a genuine British accent!

Jim DeRogatis, Music Critic and Rock N'Roll Know-It-All, If you want the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help you God, Jim's your man. User of social media, pays someone else to do it, but it's definitely NOT his agent!

Wrapping up Saturday at the Writers Institute in Madison, Wisconsin, was a panel on Social Media.  Like old time wanted posters, these four pioneers of authorship sat in the front of the room, sharing their opinions and travels through the Wild Wild West that is today’s publishing process.  Patrick was kindly allowed to speak first, fully knowing the rest of the discussion would come back to charge him like the bull he was.  Patrick, luckily, is a man with a specific area of expertise.  He is a film biographer.  His agent and his publishing house let him submit a list of ideas to write about, they circle one, he does it.  Patrick sees no need for the extra work that goes into maintaining a website, blogging, facebook and twitter, and to him it’s all just that, WORK.  I should tell you that Patrick was pretty honest about not desiring to have it all either.  He makes a decent living for himself and he’s comfortable with that.  He doesn’t actively promote the sales of his books because in his mind it only accounts for about 10% more anyway.  Are you thoroughly depressed or angered yet?

For those of you that are, Josie’s got your back!  Full of biting quips and interjections, she personally forges the way for writers of today to get involved with their audience by allowing the audience to get to know them.  She blogs about things that inspire her and will hopefully inspire her readers.  She tweets, she uses facebook.  If you saw Josie riding through the rough terrain of the open range, her horse would have her newest book branded into its butt (assuming it didn’t harm the horse to do so, she strikes me as an animal lover).  The words ‘author’ and ‘platform’ are common terms in her vocabulary.

Judy is a teacher through and through.  Her opinion may lean strongly to one side more than the other, but she still wants you to play nice with the other kids.  Her experience led her to be in the middle of social media without fully realizing it.  She began in journalism, she was writing articles for parenting magazines, and then blogging, and now it’s just what she does.  The use of social media allowed her to work on her passion, the site www.care2.com, an activist site that helps people find ways to get involved, donate, and stay educated about causes.

Finally, you get to Jim.  Patiently smirking throughout all the banter of this rodeo, he’ll tell you, Yes, you need to be involved with social media, but don’t ask him how to do any of it.  He voices his opinion on his radio show, Sound Opinions, with Greg Kot.  He says writers do need to market themselves because most agents, including his, aren’t going to do it for you.  He has no idea what his agent actually does, and yet he earns 15% of the sales.  I actually got to chat with Jim for awhile before the day started one morning and he was very affable, happy to sign the book of his I’d purchased, and chatted with me about authors to check out and his band, Vortis, a delightful three piece band of “agitainment.”  Jim may not know the ins and out of html code (which for some of us is comforting, raises hand), but he knows the people to get him there and makes himself very available to the public.  (He told me to email him!)

This post may not have answered all your questions about social media, but it shows there’s a broad spectrum of opinions about it, hence the Wild Wild West of Publishing…and Platforms…and Print on Demand…and oh hell, gang, grab a pair of chaps and a lasso, we’re going writing!  I’ll be your host, Jess Witkins (picture Jack Palance with red hair), Perseverance Expert and Social Media Pony Show Captain.  Come along, subscribe.

For more in depth information on using social media check out the Social Media Expert, Kristen Lamb and her book We Are Not Alone.

What questions do you have about social media?  How are you using it or not using it?  What do you wish it was doing that isn’t yet?

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