Friday, April 26, 2019

Who Are You? No, Really... Who.Are.You?

by Pam Hillman

Have you ever noticed how some people act like one person online and seem to be totally different in person? I daresay most of us are a different person at our day job, and even another one at church, shopping, or at conferences and/or on a business trip.

And don’t even get me started about vacations where nobody knows your name? You know, taking that old saying, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas," literally.

Seriously, I’m not talking about people with hidden agendas, being two-faced, or some dark and sinister secret that would shock our socks off. Nothing that dramatic. I’m just thinking about how many of us only show readers the fancy photoshopped headshot instead of the real us.

Social media—Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, blogging, etc.—is changing us. We’re more apt to be open about who we really are. Good thing? Yes, if you have nothing to hide. :)

I’ve always been a fairly private person. I’ve never liked sharing my thoughts, my dreams, my passions, my likes and dislikes overmuch. I don’t know if I’m more confident in being me as I age or if the need to be accessible to readers has made me more relaxed.

Readers love authors to be authentic. But what does that look like?

It starts with being confident in who you are and what you like. Pick five things you’re passionate about. Five things that you enjoy doing. Five things that given time, money, and/or energy, you would do every day. If you could drop everything RIGHT NOW, what passion or project would you pursue? I’m not talking about impossible things, or traveling the world necessarily, I’m talking about real, every day things that make you smile.

So, to get this train rolling, I'll start. Here’s my list.

Health (Food, Exercise, Being Active) - I never thought I’d be that person sharing pictures of my food on the internet. Seriously, who wants to see what I eat? But about three months ago, I started sharing my plated meals on Instagram because I was coaching a friend who was following the same eating plan I was, and she was having trouble coming up with ideas. Amazingly, other friends, family, and readers seemed to embrace the idea. Lately my active posts have been walking with grandkids, but it’s real, down to the messy hair and sweaty clothes. But even my outdoor activities dovetail with some of my other interests.



Grandkids - Yes, I’m of that age where cute grands get a lot of airtime online. Some people choose not to post photos of kids/grandkids online. My children share photos, and they're okay with me doing it as well.



Books (Reading, Writing, Research, Promotions, etc.) - This section is a huge part of my online presence. I post quotes and reviews from my books, my research, sales, new releases, my friends’ books, writerly quotes. I blog about historical tidbits I’ve researched, share photos that I’ve snapped. Again, many of these stem from my life in the country.




Memes - I put this in its own category because memes, photos, staging, inspirational quotes all interest me. Some of those cover a lot of ground, but if we’re being real and honest and showing readers all kinds of fun things that interest us, they'll feel a kinship with us.



Farming, Ranching, Rural Life - I’m a country girl. Farm life is all I’ve ever known. So when I post photos of our cows, the deer or turkeys in our front yard, or helping my husband bale hay, then that’s authentic and real.



Now, share your list in the comments and then let’s get real about sharing those with your readers on social media. And, remember what I said about impossible dreams? Seriously, if being a world traveller is a passion of yours but hasn't happened yet, there's nothing to stop you from sharing photos, research, and tidbits about the places you long to visit.

Keep it real, keep it fun, and keep it YOU. Your readers will love you for it.



In anticipation of the release of The Crossing at Cypress Creek,
I'm hosting a giveaway at my website.

Click Here To Enter!

36 comments:

  1. Pam, I love this. I, too, have always been very private. I didn't share my kids' names or photos until they were well into college. Now I still feel like I'm boring so I don't share much. LOL But I really like your thoughts in this post, and like your ideas for sharing. I have been sharing Bible verses that I come across each morning that really speak to me. And one thing that is new to me that I'm passionate about is painting. So I've shared a couple of those, which was fun (and scary).

    I don't actually spend much time on social media these days, so I don't post daily. But I do enjoy sharing a few times a week if I can find something interesting.

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    1. Missy, your comment made me think of something I should have included in the post. We should really think about whether we need to post on social media regularly to reach readers and to grow their brand, or if we just enjoy it.

      And, actually, I would go so far to say that if someone doesn't enjoy it or really feel the need, then they shouldn't worry about it. :)

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    2. I do enjoy keeping up with people. So I enjoy social media. I just don't feel I have much to add to the conversation every single day. I still do like to check out other people. My kids call me a creeper lurker on Instagram! LOL

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  2. Pam, this is so true... It's akin to wearing our "Sunday Go-to-meetin' shoes" every day of the week, and for good reasons... no one wants to hear about the major fails day after day... but I love to see the stories of folks rising up, getting up, moving on. I just saw a meme that said you can BACKSTROKE OUT OF QUICKSAND!!!! :) And that image inspired me that nothing is too bad, too deep, too awful that we (or our characters) can't find peace, hope and redemption.

    Thank you for this...

    And I always loved that LaVyrle Spencer talked about her life. In her books and in magazine articles. While other authors of the 80's stayed private, she chatted. I loved that. It made me see her better. So I figure if LaVyrle can do it, so can Ruthy!!!!

    Okay, it's writing time here on the farm, it's quiet. And we know that's a fleeting thing!

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    1. YOU CAN BACKSTROKE OUT OF QUICKSAND.

      Oh, I love that, Ruthy!

      Ruthy, you are pretty real on social media. :) So many times when I see you share about a downtrodden mother or a little community coming together to assist someone in need or everyone pitching in to host a benefit for a needy family, you are being about as real as you can be.

      And, what's just as cool... these real interactions in and around your community show up in your stories. :)

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    2. I agree, Pam. Ruthy has so many fun and touching things to share on FB! Maybe if I lived on a farm I would have more exciting things to share. :)

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  3. Lovely, Pam. Your grands are adorable. Be still my heart. I decided early on not to post photos of my children and grandchildren. Some authors I knew had bad experiences with some crazy men on social media.

    I like to include scripture and Sacred Art on FB. And writing "stuff." Perhaps I need a couple more interests. Like Missy, I'm not on FB everyday, although I usually check in to keep up with others...especially those who need prayer.

    You always have beautiful covers and great memes! Love your stories!

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    1. Debby, Sacred Art and writerly stuff fits you to a "T". I would love to see beautiful church settings, a minute carving, the way the light shines through the stained glass. Peaceful scenes that remind me of you. :)

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    2. Debby, I love your art and Bible verses!

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  4. Timely post as I’m still pondering the social media thing. Have yet to jump in.

    Five interests? *Gulps* Quotes from books or famous people would be neat paired with a relating Scripture verse. I have an extensive collection of plush toys. I could pose them doing what my family and I are up to. Perhaps mini devotional/inspirational posts could be written sometimes based off my main themes of faith, family, and fun. And last, which I’m going to pretend is #5: post random ponderings of mine that hopefully make someone laugh besides myself.

    Thanks for this. Writing some of this down, makes it seem more doable.

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    1. Samantha, I always love posts that make me laugh!

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    2. Great ideas, Samantha! I like your themes of faith, family, and fun. Very specific and when it's stuff you truly enjoy, you'll be more likely to keep it up. :)

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    3. Thank you both for the input! :0)

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  5. These are all great ideas, Pam. Thank you! It's hard to come up with meaningful ways to connect with others/readers on social media. I'm trying to get better at Canva.com to make some of my own promo materials. I always enjoy Missy's Bible verse of the day because I don't have a copy of The Message. Sometimes, it's nice to have a verse in "plain" English. I haven't really hit on what makes my feed "unique" other than posts with my two kiddos who have Down Syndrome but I try to limit those too, because I don't want them "on display" either. But, obviously, my husband and I are whole-hearted advocates for DS and everything that goes along with it. And I don't have cows like you and Mary Conneally - just a couple of lazy dogs, lol!

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    1. Laurie, I'm glad you're enjoying those verses. I started posting them because The Message version was really speaking to me in new ways.

      BTW, I love lazy dog photos! :)

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    2. Yes, Laurie, #lazydog photos would give me a chuckle. #dogsofinstagram is a HOT topic. :)

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  6. The real me's five likey-likes? I would love to show more photos while I travel. That would mean doing a lot more traveling. The day job (time and money are always the limiting factor for me..)makes that difficult. But while I'm at work I'm often thinking about the things I'd love to be doing: traveling, quilting, writing and doing fun stuff with the grandkids. I think that's the person I am on social media too. There's never a lack of things to share because there are so many wonderful authors and books to put front and center! Good thing, as I prefer to keep most things private.
    Gosh those girls are adorable, Pam!

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    1. Debra, you're so right about there always being books to share! I need to do more of that.

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    2. Debra, if you've found your sweet spot on social media, then keep up the good work. :)

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    3. Deb, photos of your beautiful sewing projects would brighten my day. You are so talented! Even a step-by-step guide as to how you piece a quilt or create haute fashion of another era!

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  7. This is a great post, Pam. It gives me something to think about if I have a social media presence as an author someday. On my personal page I like to post silly things that happen and I guess I post a lot about the weather. When you live in Nebraska, weather is a big thing.

    Today and tomorrow I will be in Omaha for the Wordsowers' writer's conference. It should be a good time.

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    1. Sandy, have fun at the conference! :) Speaking of silly, I know a lady who's spent her life travelling as a foreign missionary and now speaks at a lot of lady's retreats. She can take the simplest little funny incident and turn it into a full-blown-snort-your-coffee post on Facebook. She's hilarious. It's her trademark humor.

      So... maybe everyone doesn't need 4-5 things to be witty. One will do. It certainly does for her. When I see a post for Donita pop up in my newsfeed, I know it's going to be good. :)

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  8. Hi Pam:

    Being real is not the hard part. Knowing who you really are is!


    Philosophy has been working on that problem since before the ancient Greeks.

    Know thy self.
    The unexamined life is not worth living.
    To thine own self be true.
    Can we ever know who we really are without first being tested?
    There are no atheists in foxholes.
    Can we really know how we would act in a crisis?
    Do we really know how much temptation we could withstand?


    And then there is the evening news:

    "I didn't know I had it in me."

    "You can live with someone for fifty years and not really know them at all."

    How about settling for 'seeming real'?


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    1. Being real is not the hard part. Knowing who you really are is!

      So true, Vince. And I'd add to that ... And being willing to present that truth to the world once you figure it out.

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  9. Great post, Pam! And very timely.

    My main thing to share is the gorgeous scenery I see when we go for hikes or drives in the Black Hills. Since we're moving up into the Hills this summer, that scenery will be a daily occurrence! I hope my readers are ready!

    I also share various things going on in my life, but I rarely share anything very personal. There's a line there somewhere, and it's different for everyone. For instance, I've shared the beautiful view we'll be enjoying from our new house, but not a picture of the house itself.

    But your idea of identifying five favorites - that's what I need. A focus and a variety!

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    1. Jan, you are 100% correct. There is a line, and unfortunately I see too many people crossing that line on social media. Or at least they're way on the other side of what I'd want to share myself.

      I've seen your posts from the Black Hills. Gorgeous! Readers will be thrilled to see more of the area through your camera lens.

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  10. Do You Know Who You Are?

    Yes, I'm a person with amnesia.



    Speaking of "Who are You" what do you think of amnesia theme stories. There seemed to be many of these years ago when I started reading romances but today I can't say I've even seen one. Have any Seekers written one or planning to write one?

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    1. I have an amnesia story... unpublished. It was the first story I wrote. There are some still being published. One of Mary's heroes... Seth Kincaid ... had amnesia.

      Here's a good resource to search for amnesia stories: inspirationalhistoricalfiction.com

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    2. Hi Pam:

      That's an amazing website. I found 13 historical amnesia theme romances. I also found 2 historical runaway bride stories. I didn't see any 'beauty and the beast' stories. It's a great way to search for favorite themes. Someone from that site might make a great guest on Seekerville.

      I should have remembered Mary's "Over the Edge" book with Seth but Seth was so crazy the amnesia seemed a small part in the total story -- even though it explained why he didn't know he was married. Great use of amnesia.

      Thanks for the site recommendation.

      Vince

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    3. Yeah, poor Seth was a mess, wasn't he?

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  11. Who am I? Sometimes I don't know. LOL These are all great ideas to consider while I plan out my social media strategy as an aspiring author. I guess that's one of my five - to have a book published by someone other than me :). Another one would be to eat a chocolate bar, or really any snack at all, without the sound of little feet running to see what Mama is eating and inevitably having to share (because after all good mommies teach by doing...). Ooo - also, to use the washroom uninterrupted. LOL I love my littles and would do anything for them but sometimes a girl has got to use the facilities by herself!

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    1. Lee-Ann, I feel you! I keep my grands 3 days a week and I know exactly what you're talking about. :)

      But if those topics are on your mind a lot now, use them. Mommy blogging is huge, and I daresay Instagram posts are too for moms of toddlers. You don't have to post pics of your kids, but maybe how you make it work. Build your tribe around other moms. :)

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  12. Pam, I'm grateful to you for sharing this practical wisdom! My four comfortable topics: Weather. Pets. Gardening. Fitness. But the fifth! I'm a little afraid of getting preachy with my passion for Stewardship of the Earth. Or when I'm inspired to share a Bible verse that strikes me as so, so important. I often feel like I keep asking directions to Tarshish!

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    1. Elizabeth, you do you. And isn't that what this post is about? Being real? In love, of course. And you hope others will show you the same kindness in return. :) If Stewardship of the Earth is a passion of yours, don't hide it under a bushel.

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  13. This was a fun post. Your grandkids are very cute.
    I post things about crafting, being a mom, recipes for cookies or that my characters love, teaching Bible class, and writing/reading.

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