Happy Launch Day!

Gratuitous Dog Picture

Regular readers of this blog (both of them) are familiar with my distaste for Facebook. However, as a sop to Cerberus I knew I had to have a page to promote my book, North of the Tension Line. My editor and publicist at Beaufort Books, lovely people that they are, having heard of my misadventures, assigned an intern to set up a page for me.

Interns, of course, are college students–mostly English majors–hoping to gain experience so that they may beat the odds and find a job in their field after graduation. So, when they were asked to enter my birthdate on Facebook, they cleverly put in today’s date–the official launch date of NOTTL, and the most likely year for an adult to have been born–which is, obviously, 1993.

I woke up this morning to three different birthday greetings, all from people who know perfectly well how old I am, and who, therefore, were rather smirking in tone.

So, yes. Today is the birthday of North of the Tension Line, now officially out in the world. So please go purchase a copy. (Gratuitous cover shot to follow.)

Novel poster

For my part, I will alter my daughter’s suggestion of the traditional 21st birthday shot of tequila and celebrate instead with some nice champagne.

Although I may wait until after noon.

(Photo of Moses and me by Manning Photography)

Lessons in the Modern Age

Screen Shot 2014-03-02 at 3.02.09 PM

I know. I’m supposed to have a Facebook page to market my book. But I have spent Facebook’s entire existence avoiding it. It seemed too intrusive; too much trouble; too…unrestful. But this morning, succumbing to earnest advice, I launched my page.

The first thing I did was omit to capitalize the initials in my name. I had managed somehow to type  J. f. Riordan.  So I went to edit it. You can’t. I couldn’t believe this, thinking it must be some personal failing on my part. But it wasn’t. You actually can’t. If you try, they want you to submit a copy of your driver’s license. I am not doing that. So I tried to ask Facebook for help. This was my first exposure to Facebook customer service. There is none.

Then, I thought, maybe I can put my author’s bio at the top of the page. I can’t. You can’t. No one can. You have to have the things they want on the top of the page. Like your favorite tv shows, and movies you watched recently. I went to the “about” section and removed things like favorite tv shows and movies I watched recently. But the tv shows were still there. TV shows have nothing to do with why I have a Facebook page. But it doesn’t matter.

Then I realized from my sister that my birthdate–which wasn’t my real birthdate–had been posted, even though I didn’t want to post my birthdate. “Oh yeah?” she wrote. “You were born only a few months before we were married? Hahahaha!” I don’t want to post my birthdate. Did I mention that? So I “hid” it. But when I look at the page it still shows in my timeline. I tried changing my birthdate. A Facebook message popped up: “You can only change your birthdate a limited number of times.” How many? I wondered. How often do people want to change their birthdates? And why can’t I change it whenever I want? Why would they care? What’s one woman’s vanity to them? (Answer: they are collecting data on you and want to tell their advertisers that they know everything about you.)

Facebook asked to access my e-mail contacts. Reluctantly, and against my better judgment, I allowed this. Should I send to business associates? I suppose. It’s marketing, right? To the vet’s office? Maybe. I write about dogs. The Dentist? Well, why not? They want me to like them on Facebook. A billion e-mails went out to people who will probably be wondering who this J.F. Riordan is who is sending random invitations to perfect strangers. 

By this time, my 1 friend–a relative–had increased to 7. I had friends! But the reason I had built the page was no longer visible on the time line–namely, my book. My husband informed me that (oh, fond hope) once you have 5,000 followers you can’t have a regular page. “You shouldn’t have a regular page,” he said. “You should have a book page. You’re an entity, not a person.”

This sounded about right. I was feeling rather like an entity. So I went back to Facebook to create a business page. It wanted to link to my other page, to J. f. Riordan. I really didn’t want my book going out with an error in my name. But nothing I did, from private browsing, to creating a new e-mail account with a different name enabled me to escape from the original page. I deleted the account and tried all this again. I got an e-mail saying they would delete my page forever in 14 days. Was I sure I wanted to delete this account.  I was sure. Very, very sure.

So I have spent my entire morning in my pajamas fruitlessly messing around with social media on the computer. I have become that person. My day is half gone, I am frustrated, the dogs are restless and unhappy, and I haven’t gotten one actual piece of writing done on my one actual day of writing. 

And billions of e-mails have gone out to invite friends, associates, veterinarians, dentists, and miscellaneous others to a nonexistent Facebook page. 

Facebook, I hate you.