The Miraculous Resurrection of the Suspense/Thriller Writers Group on Facebook

A few days ago I talked about how when I first joined Facebook, I hadn’t a clue what to do, and how quite by accident, I became a moderator of an almost defunct writing group called the Suspense/Thriller Writers. I was trolling around the site, looking for groups that might interest me, and I stumbled on that particular group, which had but eight members. On the right sideboard was a button that said, “become a moderator of this group.” I was curious what becoming a moderator would entail, so I clicked the button. And that’s how I became the moderator of the group. To make it a viable group, rather than a typical Facebook group where people just posted book covers and other promotional bits, I decided to have weekly discussions.

We had some great discussions about improving our craft, but facebook, in it’s infinite wisdom (that is irony, in case you didn’t catch it) decided to get rid of the discussion boards. Without the discussion board and the help we offered each other, any serious discussions rapidly disappeared beneath the steady stream of self-promotion. So all we could do was post information about our books, and in doing so, we lost many of those serious about writing.

On Sunday, something miraculous happened. The members of the group began talking about what they wanted from the group and what they didn’t want. Mostly, what they didn’t want was blatant self-promotion, and especially from members who never bothered to participate in any group activities. So, we decided to limit such promotion to Saturday (and I’m hoping to make that a fun day where everyone gets together to talk about their books).

This is the first time in a very long time I’ve felt any excitement at being on Facebook. Not only did we reclaim our group, but I made new friends and reconnected to some long-time facebook friends who had disappeared from my newsfeed.

And today, something else miraculous happened. I found the link to our original discussion board!!! It’s still viable, just not linked to the group, so I don’t know if  it’s worth using, but all that great information is not lost, and losing the information worried me most of all.

So where did I find the link? Here on my blog!! I have a terrible habit of blogging about everything in my cyberworld, and once (or twice or who knows how many times!) I blogged about my facebook activities.  Three years ago exactly (well, minus one day — the post was November 14, 2008) I asked people to join the Suspense/Thriller Writers group, and listed some of the links. And darn if those links don’t still work! Wow!

So, if you’re interested in learning more about writing, meeting writers, networking, join the Suspense/Thriller Writers. All writers (and readers) are welcome. If you don’t think you write suspense, think again. Whatever genre you write, you still write suspense. Suspense at its most basic is making readers worry about what is going to happen to your characters. If they don’t worry, they have no reason to read. Besides, all genres make use of the same basic story elements: plot, characterization, scenes, description. So, see you on Facebook.

Speaking of facebook, you can friend me here: Pat Bertram, but if you want to friend me, be sure you tell me why (say you saw me on my blog or some such). I don’t friend everyone who asks, though I once did. I want to actually get to know the people I know. Also, you can “like” me here: Pat Bertram. I hope you do. “Like” me, I mean.

Facebook Has Finally Defeated Me

I signed up for Facebook back when authors were joining in vast numbers. None of us knew what we were doing there, we just knew social networking was the next step in trying to promote our books. I was already familiar with Gather.com, another social networking site, and since I had a writing discussion group on Gather, I decided to start one on Facebook. There were already hundreds of such groups, but mostly they sat fallow, so I did one thing no one else was doing – I sent the link for the discussion to the members of the group. There was a great response because, finally, we all had something to do on Facebook while we figured out how to use the site most effectively.

I kept these discussions going through several Facebook upgrades until  they  revamped the group format and got rid of the discussion boards. I still don’t see the rationale behind that, but I adjusted. I added the discussion app to my fanpage and moved the discussions there. We were getting back into the swing of things when . . .  FB revamped the fan page format and got rid of the discussion app. It’s better for all discussions to take place on the wall, they say. It makes for a better experience, they say. A better experience for whom? (Glad I asked that. Since they are making the pages more interactive, and since all businesses – especially big businesses and major corporations – have a page, they are making room for more commercial encroachment on facebook.)

Well, I moved the discussions back to the group walls, and they quickly disappeared into the great maw of self-promotion. I have nothing against authors promoting their books, but please!! Give us something more interesting than yet another plea to buy your book. Still, that isn’t the issue here. Nor are the discussions the issue. If people aren’t interested in discussing the finer points (and the not so fine points) of writing or reading, there’s not much I can do about it except stick to my No Whine, Just Champagne discussions on Gather or post them on the Second Wind Publishing group on Goodreads.

The real issue, the reason Facebook has defeated me, is the updated home page. There is a ticker along the right sidebar that ticks continually with inane messages. John likes Bill’s link. Bill commented on Janet’s status. John and Janet are now friends. Even that isn’t a problem. One quickly gets used to ignoring sidebars on the Internet. The problem is that if you are making a comment on someone’s link or status update when the ticker ticks, your comment ends up in appropriate places, such as when I left a “yay!” on someone’s update about having had a good day and it ended up on another person’s update about needing an operation. Ouch. Still, I can get used to doublechecking to make sure my comments hit the right spot and deleting those that don’t. What I cannot get used to is the new newsfeed – the constant stream of cutesy-poo animal pictures, sickly sentimental and fatuous sayings masquerading as images, and supposedly funny sayings and cartoons that lack an iota of humor.

Even that I can get used to, but Facebook has made it so easy for everyone to share this crap that they do. Over and over and over again. Yikes.

On the other hand, since people seem to like this new newsfeed, it’s possible the problem isn’t Facebook. Maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m just getting crotchety.

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