Guest Post // Seven Short Story Secrets

Guest Post // Seven Short Story Secrets

Today Rebekah has a wealth of experience to share about writing short stories…

When Kate first asked me to share some tips on writing short stories, she mentioned something about me being the “queen of short stories” which I thought was odd, because I hadn’t written that many of them. Had I? I looked up the length of “short stories” and found some say they are 1,000 to 7,500 or so words while others say up to 10k. So let’s say any stories that are at least 1k but under 9k will qualify.

How many have I written and published?

Okay, I just counted my short stories that are published. I have over 50. I guess I have written a few.

But all that aside, here are my 7 secrets for writing short stories.

1. Stick with 1-3 Main Characters. The more main characters you have, the harder it will be to write a short story. You can have more minor characters, but don’t try to make them all important. Some of my short stories have a large cast, but most characters aren’t even named. Others have very few characters.

2. Keep the Plot Simple. Seriously, if you have a complex plot, chances are you are going to end up with a novel, not a short story.

3. Stick to One Theme not Many. If you try to weave in more than one theme in a short story, it can get confusing and will either end up too long and complicated, or it will end up a mess. You can have a setting be different than a theme. (My Christmas stories are set at Christmas time, but the themes aren’t always just Christmas.)

4. Try to have Few Scenes. If you are writing a really short story keep your scenes to as few as possible. Maybe everything happens in one place with no changing scenes. Or maybe your scenes are short. Many scenes means more words.

5. Describe Your Characters in as Few Words as Possible. If you don’t have a lot of room for words, don’t spend a lot of time describing each character and what they are wearing and how their hair looks, and the exact shade of their eyes unless that is vital to the plot of the story. Try to give your readers a sense of things without a lot of words.

6. Practice Cutting and Tightening. Try writing some short stories with a word limit and don’t let yourself go over them. If you are more than 5 words over the limit, go back and see what you can tighten or cut out. Can you make a sentence have seven words instead of ten?

7. Practice Expanding Your Story. If your stories are falling short of the goal, go back and see what you can add. Drop a little more detail, a few extra words here or there. If you are really needing more words, add another scene or some thoughts from the MC.

Something that I found to be extremely helpful when I first started writing short stories was enlisting the help of my family and friends. I picked a handful of pictures and put them in page protectors in a notebook. (They can be from calendars, magazines, Pinterest, wherever you want.) Then I asked friends and family to help me by giving me a word count that the story must be (ie. 4,250 words, no more than 5k, 7,500 words), and how many characters I could have.

I wrote the info on scraps of paper and slipped each one into the page protector with the picture. Sometimes I’d let my friends pick the picture, other times it would simply be the next one in the notebook. (I would also let them give me special instructions if they wanted like, include ice cream, or make the main character a girl my age, or describe emotions without saying “they were angry, sad, happy, etc.”.) Then I would write.

Tip: Never let your story get more than 5 words over or under the limit.

And there you have it. My seven secrets for short stories.


Rebekah A. Morris has lived her entire life (as of now) in Missouri. Being home educated during her school years was great, except for writing. That was the worst subject (along with math) that she had to do. It wasn’t until after she graduated that she discovered the joys and wonder of writing. Now she can’t write enough. After spending six years in research and writing, she completed her first book, “Home Fires of the Great War,” a 500+ page, historical fiction about home life in the United States and Canada during the First World War. Since then, she has been an avid writer and always has more than one story going on at once because only one story at a time got tiring and dull.

(Don’t forget to enter the giveaway!)

All supplementary images from

Guest Post // 10 Tips for Writing a Series

Guest Post // 10 Tips for Writing a Series

Remember that really good advice Sarah Holman gave us in her interview? I asked her to share her tips for writing a series, and here they are! I’ll definitely be taking some notes…

Who doesn’t love a series where you get to see the characters you love over and over again? I know that when I adore a character, I always wish the author would write about that character forever.

As a writer, creating a series is a huge undertaking. Here are ten of my best tips for those brave authors who embark on this rewarding and daunting journey. 

1. Make a plan for your series. This doesn’t have to be a detailed plan with every plot point of every book. Just sketch out the overall plot and character arcs along with an idea of what part of those will end up in each book. This will help keep you on track throughout the writing process.

2. Be willing for the plan to change. While making a plan is important, you might find that your plans have to be adjusted as your series grows. After all, as you delve deeper into the plot and characters, you might discover new twists and turns. Just update wherever the document that holds your plan so you have a reference to what’s going on. This will help you see how the series itself might have to change to fit the new developments. 

3. Create a cast of compelling characters. For any story to work, your reader has to like the main characters, even if it’s just a little bit. So, give your reader compelling characters they can feel connected to. While each character will be unique, here are some basic “molds” for compelling characters.

  • Someone caught between two worlds and doesn’t fit into either.
  • The leader/protector who’s separated from people because of their responsibility.
  • The full of life and adventurer who has little to nothing to ground them.
  • The caring person who’s passionate about their vocation/situation in life, and it makes them a bit of a hothead at times.
  • The feeler who often withdraws because their emotions can be overwhelming.
  • The genius who can sometimes be misunderstood, but often holds the solution to the problem if people will listen.
  • The faithful one who’s there for everyone, and quietly does their job/is a support without many people realizing what is going on in their lives/hearts.
  • The lovable grump who often has a hard past/hard life that makes them prickly, but they have many redeeming qualities for those who choose to look.

This is not an exhaustive list, but some starter ideas to get your creative juices moving. 

4. Let your characters grow and change. There is a verse in the Bible that says man makes his plans, but God’s purposes prevail. Well, in writing an author makes his plans, but sometimes characters have a different purpose. This happened to me while writing the Kate series. Kate changed a lot from what I thought she would be at given points in the series. I think that how she changed was good, even though it wasn’t in my plan. Be willing to let your characters grow and change beyond the original plan.

5. Have long-term issues that aren’t solved in book one. You want to keep your readers needing the next book. In the Kate’s Case Files series, one of the ways I did this is have Kate have a past that’s murky. It leaves the readers wanting the next book to see if I finally tell them what it’s all about. Also, I have personal growth and change in her and other characters that isn’t fixed at the end of the book. Readers what to know if those two characters ever get together, if this character learned their lesson, and why that other character is acting the way they are.

Readers what to know if those two characters ever get together, if this character learned their lesson, and why that other character is acting the way they are.

~ Sarah Holman

6. Have plot points in every book that ARE resolved. You don’t want your reader to finish each book in a series without feeling some things are resolved. They need closure with each story in some aspect. It might be the case the character is investigating, a personal issue that’s brought up, or finally revealing information. Cliffhangers can be fine, but should be used sparingly.

7. Plan running jokes, phrases, and settings that pull things together. Especially in a book that runs more than three books, you want to give your readers things that pull them right back into the action. You need to have characters with unique phrases, recurring settings to help keep their bearings, and even inside jokes that they can chuckle over. This will help pull your reader into back into the story, even if they set aside the series for a while.

8. Give new tidbits every book. Your reader needs to feel progress is made in the overall story plot. For instance, in Kate’s Case Files, I make a big deal in book 1 about Kate’s murky past. I don’t just keep reminding my reader she hasn’t shared about it yet; they get tidbits about what it might be and clues that she’s getting closer to sharing. We also learn more about the characters in every book so our understanding of them grows with each story.

9. Keep a document of facts that you can reference. It’s easy to think that you’ll remember a character’s eye color, last name, or how many siblings they have. However, sometimes those details get forgotten. Make a document or grab a notebook and note down details as you go. Character worksheets can also help with this. If it’s an ongoing detail, write it down.

10. Have fun! Make sure this is something that you will enjoy. Writing a series can be quite an effort, so you want characters, settings, and plots that interest you and you can have fun with for months and maybe even years to come.

(All mockups provided by Sarah Holman)

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway!

Shipping Is the Best

Shipping Is the Best

I love shipping.

This kind…


(We actually don’t need to be told, we discover them almost right away. 😉 )


(Canon can be such a killjoy…)


(*sniffs* Oh, and OTP = one true pairing, the couple you’ve matchmade that you will forever believe in. XD )

And I also love the post office kind (basically what normal people think “shipping” is) too. Christmas present time is upon us, and after reading an amazing Goodreads blog post about gifting books to friends, I’m excited about getting to send things in the mail soon. 😉 *rubs hands together*

Since I used to sell secondhand books on Amazon and now sell my own books, I’ve shipped out quite a few packages. 😀 And I’ve also received quite a few packages because of my book buying “problem” (that we won’t talk about)…

Here are my tips and tricks…

  1. Padded mailers are my favorite, though manilla envelopes can work in as well, and I often buy them in a package of six from Walmart or in singles at another store. I also like to save mailers sent to me (especially those LOVELY cardboard mailers from Amazon) for a pinch. If they’re still in good condition and if I can remove all my personal information from them, that is. 😀 (I have two on my bedroom floor right now that I need to decide what to do with. 😉 )
  2. I’m a little bit hyper about books getting bent so if the book is thin I put cardboard in behind it, and I always wrap it tightly in saran wrap to hold the pages together which helps with my other concern…
  3. Waterproofing! I got a shipment of books once where the color of the cover bled onto the page block because it got slightly wet. *cringes* I feel like saran wrap helps protect against this, and one time I even sent a book with saran wrap AND a Ziploc bag because it was going overseas. #nervousMama
  4. I also really like packages to be fun. I mean getting a book is reallllly fun, right?! But sometimes I like to include a note or an interesting bookmark or even a silly message on the package just to jolly things up a little more. It’s one of my favorite parts of the process. ❤

Do you have any tips to share? And are you like me and just looooove mail?? 😀



I Love Book Thrifting (and You Can Too)

I Love Book Thrifting (and You Can Too)

I took a book census the other day, and, out of the 100 or so books I have out on my shelves and around my room, forty of those are secondhand. I love buying used books, mainly for budget reasons, but it’s also fun to give new life and a new home to overlooked copies that are still quite readable. 😉

I’ve bought many of my books used on Amazon, through a Christian fiction Facebook group (recent discovery!), and even through store credit at a used bookstore, but nothing beats the thrill of a thrift store book hunt. 😀

I got to go thrift shopping for books the other day, and my very patient family let me take as much time as I wanted. 😀 I documented the trip, so this post is half you-can-do-this-too tips and half look-what-i-found crowing. 😉


Just part of my thrift store’s HUGE book section.

Step #1: Look at everything everywhere.

At least with my local thrift store, the book section isn’t organized, so cookbooks and novels, children’s books and classics, hardbacks and non-fiction are mixed together. I try to at least glance over every shelf just to ensure I’m not missing any treasures.


Tip: If you have a lot of hair like I do, put it up because it’s gonna get really messy from the rigors of bookshelf browsing. I forget this every. single. time. 😛

A prime example of this is how I often neglect the top shelf because of my height but also that’s where they tend to put the mass market pulp fiction I’m not usually interested in. But this time, I followed my own advice and looked at everything and saw…


A copy of Jane Austen’s Emma! So yeah, really do look at everything. Unless time is limited. 😉

Step #2: Pull first, ask questions later.

If a book looks even remotely interesting, pull it off the shelf. There will be time afterward to look at each book more closely. I pull by author name (“I think I recognize them?”), hype (“Oh, everyone on Goodreads was talking about this!”), and general interestingness of cover and synopsis (“Oooo, shiny!”).


Tip: Get a cart. I also always forget this.

When I went on this shopping trip with this post in mind, I had no idea I would find so many books! A cart from the start would have been really helpful, but I didn’t expect to need one so I walked around looking like a crazy person for a while. 😉 The stack eventually got too tall for me to carry, so I left it on the floor near me while I finished looking at all the shelves.


Yes, that is thirty books. Yes, I am crazy.

When I got in a predicament over how to carry them all over to my family’s cart, a kind stranger–a soft-spoken veteran–volunteered to carry the towering stack over to it for me. He was even gonna carry it to the front of the store where the registers were if I needed it. He was pretty cool. 😉 ❤

Step #3: Cull through your stack.

Find a nice place (like maybe a cart?? If you got one…) to sort through your books. I chose a nearby coffee table and stacked my haul on it, then started looking at them more closely.


So many books!

My first step in vetting a book is to look it up on Goodreads and read friends’ reviews. I suggest having a charged, portable device on hand for this part. 😉 Many of my friends have the same reading tastes and content concerns I do, so this always helps me get a good idea about whether or not I will enjoy a book. 😉


One of the books I looked up. ^^

After this step, I look at the book’s condition and see if it’s worth bringing home. I didn’t do a good job of this with one I bought last month, and I recently discovered it is both written in and smells strongly of perfume, so I have a lot of work to do on it before it can go on my shelves. 😦 If there are multiple copies of something, I suggest grabbing both so you can compare them and choose the one that is in better condition.


The Hunger Games is so popular, I don’t think these were even the only two copies! XD

Sometimes I’ll see a book that looks really interesting, but I’m not sure I’m ready to own it yet and would rather try it from the library. If it’s not on my Goodreads to-read list, I’ll add it there so I won’t forget it, then say a temporary goodbye to its loveliness.


*needs another library trip*

After this, I check my interest in a book, check how much I’m willing to spend, and fight with myself over whether or not I need a hardback copy of a book I already own… This is the stack of books I left behind and reshelved with the help of a younger sister. 😉


Goodbye beautiful copy of Matched!

And this is the stack I decided to buy…


At the last minute, I reshelved the George Muller biography for budget reasons. 😉

Woodlawn by Todd Gerelds is a biography about the events of a movie I recently enjoyed. I liked that it has historical pictures in it, and I’m looking forward to reading more about these people beyond just what the movie portrayed. 😉 Blindsided by Priscilla Cummings looks like a very interesting story of a teenage girl who loses her sight. I don’t know very much about it, but I deemed it worth a try and the unique, beautiful cover is a nice bonus. 😉 Unbroken: An Olympian’s Journey from Airman to Castaway to Captive by Laura Hillenbrand is actually an adaption of her novel for young adults, and I’m glad to have found it since, while I’m interested in the life of Louis Zamperini, the movie and the adult book are a bit too much for me. I read some reviews and discovered that this version is cleaned up on the language and violence (at least somewhat), so I’m hoping to be able to read it. 😉

Step #4: Buy your books!!! 😀

And don’t forget to gawk over the deals you got and remind yourself that the money you saved means you can buy more books (or keep saving it).

Step #5: Freeze your books for 3-4 days.

Not to freak anyone out, but used books can sometimes harbor bugs/bug eggs. A few days in the freezer has been proven to nuke those little beasties! I’ve never had problems with this in used books (to my knowledge), I just do this as a precautionary thing. 😀 Tie your books up in a bag and pop them in the freezer in a safe, dry spot, then mark on the calendar when to get them out.


Or forget about them like I do and suddenly be surprised one day with new reading material. 😛 😉

Step #6: Make your books even more beautiful. 

Pull your books out of the freezer and let them warm up a little bit. If you’re concerned about pages warping, set a heavy dictionary on top of them for this part. 😉 When they are at room temperature, I like to look them over and erase any pencil markings inside, wipe any spots off the covers with a damp paper towel or alcohol swab, and remove all price tags. This time around, my copy of Unbroken had two price tags on it–one from the original bookstore and one from the thrift store, so I’m glad I had an alcohol swab to help remove all the stickiness.


Isn’t Blindsided gorgeous?!! That braille is actually embossed so you can feel it. ❤

Step #7: Welcome your books home. 

Your books are ready to take their place on your shelf (or to-read stack) with all of the others! Mine won’t officially take their place on my shelf until I’ve read them, but right now, here they are with some of my other books. (And yes, the ones right next to them happen to be secondhand!)


I had a great time thrift shopping, and I’m excited to try out these new books. ❤

Do you like buying books secondhand? Share your tips and stories with me in the comments. 😉

Thanks to Anna for taking these pictures for me, and my family for helping me shop and reshelve. 😉
A Roundup of Amazing Blog Posts

A Roundup of Amazing Blog Posts

Today is roundup day!


Oh, wait. Sorry, not that kind. 😉

For a little while now, I’ve been collecting cool blog posts I’ve discovered, and I want to share them with you.


(a picture from the blog post)

Miss Mustard Seed blogs about furniture refinishing, decorating, and antiquing, and her post about finding antique art supplies had me totally geeking out. 😀 😀 You should seriously go check out “a new love for dip pens & other found art supplies“. It’s chock full of pretty pictures to love. ❤


Hope Ann put together this BRILLIANT post full of gifs (from the tv show Sherlock) explaining a writer’s life. It was very accurate and veeeerrry hilarious. XD Enjoy “A Writer’s Life According to Sherlock”.

Missy (3)

Similarly hilarious but quite different is a post I randomly discovered called “Living in a World Where ‘Love Comes Softly’ — What to Expect (and a Bit of Friendly Advice)”. Don’t get me wrong, I have been very blessed by the first book and look forward to reading more of the series later. I’ve also seen the first movie, and other than some (terrible-to-this-bookworm) character changes, I liked it okay. So my take on this movie series is lovingly satirical, and it’s all in good fun. 😉


Hi, I’m Kate, and I hate marketing. So I loved this blog post. 😀 K.M. Weiland’s books and blog posts on writing have been very helpful to me, and “How to Market Your Book When You Hate Marketing” is definitely worth reading. (And if you like audio, scroll to the bottom because there’s a podcast version there.)


And last, but not least, this very encouraging post by Allyson Kennedy. ❤ It was exactly what I needed when I read it. 😉 Go read “How God Uses Writers”.

Those are some of my favorite things I’ve discovered online lately. 😉 Have you found anything helpful, funny, or interesting? Tell me about it in the comment! 😉

Social Media: The Benefits of an Adblocker

Social Media: The Benefits of an Adblocker

Last fall, I wrote a blog series on social media. I shared about goalsetting, platforms, safeguards, time management, and etiquette. In my post “Embrace Safeguards”, I gave a nod to my favorite adblocker and left it at that.

Lately, I’ve come to realize just how huge of a blessing this tool is and decided there was more to say. 😀


Adblock Plus was first recommended to me by a Goodreads friend. It’s easy to add to Chrome (or whatever browser you use) and absolutely free!


Up in the right-hand corner, the little icon for my adblocker informs me it just blocked a total of five ads on the page. Woohoo! Without it, the top banner usually has a video ad for a movie adaptation (PG or not) and both sidebars are full of ads totally unrelated to books. (Like ads for clothing or lack thereof.)


YouTube is one of the diciest places I go on the internet. Adblocker removes sidebar ads AND the video ads before each video. I didn’t realize it was doing this until my friends were complaining about the erotic ads on YouTube for a certain movie. I never saw any ads at all, and I’m sooo glad I missed them. 😉

(Also, that song is super cool. Check it out. 😉 )


While all Facebook ads are blocked, there is a couple second delay when you first open the page which causes them to blip in and out for a second. XD Other than that, it works very well. One extra special feature I literally just discovered is the “Block Element” tool. This allowed me to get rid of the entire Facebook news sidebar in addition to the regular ads.


No more politics and scandals, yay! Sounds awesome, doesn’t it? 😀

A couple things to keep in mind if/when you download…

  1. Read the privacy policy. I can’t vouch for everything.
  2. I’m not sure if/how it works on other social media platforms.
  3. Be aware that you are not invincible. I’ve seen dastardly articles on site sidebars before because the adblocker doesn’t extend to those. *cringes* I just automatically assumed I’d never seen anything bad again…
  4. If you are making your own ad, you will have to temporarily turn the blocker off. It’s quite easy to do just with just a couple clicks. 😉

My adblocker has made my social media experience much cleaner and more focused. I’m very grateful that I installed it. 😉

Do you use an adblocker?


Social Media: Etiquette

Social Media: Etiquette

Welcome to the last post of my blog series on social media. Just a quick recap before we get down to the nitty-gritty of etiquette. *curls finger on teacup* Wait, wrong etiquette…

After “An Introduction of Sorts” where I laid out what exactly I was gonna be talking about, we thought through some good social media goals together. This post was one of my favorites since it laid the foundation for everything. 😉 After that was super fun post about choosing platforms, one on embracing safeguards, and another on time management. (*blushes* I still struggle with this one. Forever, probably.)

And now it’s etiquette time! *drops a curtsy*


Okay, not that kind. But it’s similar. Basically this: I need to act as politely and God-honoring-ly as I would in face-to-face interaction. The “rules” aren’t different just because it’s on a computer. Here are just a few specifics I’ve identified for myself…

  1. Think before you post. Everyone says to do this, and I tend to think that’s it’s just another one of those sayings; but it’s actually quite invaluable. 😀 I’ve saved myself a lot of unnecessary drama by refraining from posting something or backspacing that witty put-down that flashed into my mind. If I wouldn’t say it in person, in front of others, and in front of Christ, guess what? They’re all on social media. The rules don’t change. 😉
  2. Also, think after you post. This is something I’ve been learning a lot lately! I can’t count the number of times I’ve looked back at a post and found a horrendous typo. This could be my own faulty proofreading eye or an overeager autocorrect, but looking one last time after it posts never hurt anyone. 😉
  3. Think about how your actions will affect others. I’ve been blessed with a pretty great batch of social media friends! 😀 Still, some days when they share news articles they are angry about, react to something I never wanted to see, or argue loudly in public comments, I just want to hide and throw my computer out the window. Even some of the most uplifting communities I’ve been in have those days. I’m learning to be very conscious about how what I say affects others. Everything is pretty public, after all. 😉 If I’m shocked or angry about something, do I want others to have to experience the same emotions too?* My friend and fellow author blogger Sarah Holman wrote a great post on her opinion of internet negativity. I encourage you to check it out.
  4. Internet eavesdropping (a.k.a. “stalking”) is not cool. The internet is public, but people don’t often think of it that way. If I’m not officially friends with someone, researching every aspect of their lives is the equivalent of eavesdropping on a very loud conversation. I often find that, if I’m researching random people, it’s time to either get off the computer (I’m obviously bored) or to remind myself to stop looking for juicy gossip details.
  5. Keep sensitive issues private. I don’t mean details like your SS number or your birthday (I already covered that in the safeguards one). Instead I mean disagreements, requests for apologies, and the like. Instead of telling someone that they are wrong and I’m right in front of the entire digital world, I need to “go and tell him his fault” privately. (See Matthew 18) This keeps things a lot calmer and can actually lead to a great healing and clarifying conversation. I’ve experienced this firsthand! A lot of drama tornadoes can be easily avoided by humility and privacy. 😉

That’s all for now, folks! Thanks for going on this social media series journey with me!

What are some etiquette rules you wish more people would follow? How can you incorporate these more into your social media interactions?

*There are some instances when the sadness and evilness of life should be shared with others, mainly if they can take some action like participate in a GoFundMe or sign a petition. Shock factor alone is not a good enough reason, in my opinion. 😉
Social Media: Time Management

Social Media: Time Management

(Welcome back to my series on social media. You can catch up on previous posts here. I’ll be collecting questions throughout the series for a final Q & A post. Please note that I will sometimes link out to helpful articles. I cannot vouch for everything on the site, so explore at your own risk.)

In preparation for this post, I read some statistics. They grossed me out. This blog post from by Evan Asano, founder and CEO of Mediakix says, “Astonishingly, the average person will spend nearly two hours (approximately 116 minutes) on social media everyday, which translates to a total of 5 years and 4 months spent over a lifetime.”

There. Now you can be grossed out too. *keels over in horror at my generation* Even worse, it gives a chart of all the other things you could do in that amount including running marathons. (*cowers* Did someone say marathons?)

As we discovered when choosing our goals, there are good reasons for being on social media. We just have to make sure we don’t spend too much time on it. 😉 I like this Forbes article on time management tips for social media users, but I think it comes down most to self-control. Most of the blog posts condemning time-wasting on the internet are about employees using work hours to play on the internet, but since we are all mostly students or work from home our time is our own.

Except it’s not.

“And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24, NKJV)

We serve the Lord Christ with our time. How would He like us to use it? 😉

I will admit that I find wasting time on social media pretty tempting. If I write a post, I’m always eager to check back and see if I’ve had any interaction. And then check again. And check again. While I’m there, I’ll see something I want to share and the cycle starts over. It doesn’t help at all that my schoolwork and my writing are done on the same machine as my social media is. Even if I’m fulfilling the social media goals I believe God has called me to, what about other life goals? Am I neglecting them?

Bible reading, sibling-interacting, school, chores, projects, excercise (gulp), we know what we should be doing. 😉

My favorite tip for time management is turning off notifications. Since this is all electronic, things won’t go away, and it’s okay to delay looking at them for a little while. Scheduled, regular times for specific purposes (Facebook Five Minutes, Blogging Hour, etc.) are very helpful to staying focused and self-controlled. And it’s always okay to ask for help or accountability if the urge is too strong. 😉

We need to think through these things and have a game plan so we aren’t surprised when we find out how much time we’ve accidentally wasted. What’s your plan? 😉

(P.S.–I just discovered I could read the Bible approximately 57 times in those five years spent on social media. Sobering.) 😉

Social Media: Embrace Safeguards

Social Media: Embrace Safeguards

(Welcome back to my series on social media. You can catch up with previous posts here. I’ll be collecting questions throughout the series for a final Q & A post. Please note that I will sometimes link out to helpful articles. I cannot vouch for everything on the site, so explore at your own risk.)

Picture the internet like a huge library. A library with no late fines, dress and speech standards, and no librarians to keep an eye on things. Anyone can walk in and do whatever they want to. The children’s and adults’ sections are hopelessly mixed up, and even just looking at the cover of a book could be disastrous. You never know what you will find, but you still need to be there. There are many interesting, useful, and even fun things to be found there.

So, today we get to think through safeguards to set for ourselves. This isn’t a list of rules (although I extra-highly-and-extremely-suggest #1 and #5) but instead a list of suggestions with a few examples of how I personally stay safe on the internet.

  1. Embrace your family’s safeguards! This is HUGE. If your family already has internet rules or principles to follow, now is a good time to check your heart with God and see if you are honoring your parents wishes. (And if they don’t have any, I highly suggest you ask their opinions and see if they have any preferences.) God has placed these special people in your life to help guide and protect you. More often than not, they have good reasons for everything. It’s important and worth it to ask them. 😉
  2. Keep some information to yourself. Because anyone can wander wherever they like on the internet, I make sure to read all. the. way. through the privacy settings on my platforms to make sure only the people I choose can see my information. I don’t share my birth date, address, age, or even city online even with my friends unless I know them well enough that we are emailing on a regular basis. If you need to go very public and make connections but don’t want to friend the entire planet, setting up a page is a very good idea. Also, be careful with those very fun Facebook quizzes that require access to your entire profile and pictures. While some of these are safe, many others are scams, and online it’s hard to tell the good from the bad.
  3. Research your potential friends. Here’s where you get to play FBI agent. *cues cool music* *puts on black sunglasses* If it’s Facebook, look at what you can see of their profile. What do they like? What do they share? And who are your mutual friends? If this person is a friend of someone I actually don’t know very well, chances are I don’t know them well enough that I should share information with them. Goodreads also has some great ways of “vetting” a potential friend. Check mutual friends, use the ever awesome “compare books” tool, and include a challenge question in your profile to limit requests to people who are truly interested in being friends. (Here’s a great tutorial on how to set one up.)

  4. Set ad preferences (or use an ad blocker on some sites). When you are starting out on a new platform, the feed is often inundated with ads and page suggestions. It can be really messy near the beginning while the platform you’re using “learns” your preferences. This is an especially good time to get some outside help from a family member. 😉

  5. Get help if it gets weird. No safeguards are entirely foolproof. If you run across something you shouldn’t or feel like someone is acting strange and potentially dangerous, share these concerns with a parent or another responsible adult. Never feel like things are too awkward or insignificant to bring up. They care about you! You will save yourself a lot of trouble and potential issues by keeping the conversation open. 

These are just a few things to think about as you start on your social media journey. If you like, you could even make a poster of the ones you choose and hang it up with your goals. 😉 The internet is a big place. Drive safe. 😀

What are some principles you follow?

Social Media: Choose Your Platform

Social Media: Choose Your Platform

(Welcome back to my series on social media. You can catch up with previous posts here. I’ll be collecting questions throughout the series for a final Q & A post. Please note that I will sometimes link out to helpful articles. I cannot vouch for everything on the site, so explore at your own risk.)

Thank you all for your patience! At last, here is your post. 😉 This will not be a huge, comprehensive list of every site under the sun, but I’ll be highlighting six platforms to look at and choose from with our goals in mind. Let’s get thinking!


Kate Facebook

When people say social media, we think of Facebook first. Since they were founded in 2004 their numbers have grown to over 2 billion active users, making it The #1 Social Media Site. On Facebook, users can create a profile, connect with friends, follow pages, create and share posts, and interact with information through reaction buttons and comment sections.

Pros: It’s pretty versatile! Pictures, video, text–you name it, you can post it!

It’s pretty universal. If you research social media demographics (check out this great post), you’ll find that all age groups and both genders use it pretty equally.

It has a feature called groups, basically a page that can be limited to certain viewers if you choose. Members of the group get notified each time something is posted so it doesn’t get buried in the main feed. (Perfect for parties and author street teams!)

Cons: The feed gets full. Especially if you post on a weekend or late at night, your lovely little post can get buried by movie trailers and food pictures. (Read this article about best and worst times to post to keep that from happening.)

There are ads mixed into the feed as well as on the sidebar along with news headlines. You can set your ad preferences, but it’ll never be perfect.

The algorithms are constantly changing. Algorithm is a fancy term for the formula used to determine which posts get preference in the feed. (I still don’t quite understand them…) This is another big factor in whether or not your posts get buried.


Kate Instagram

I was kinda floored when I found out this was the second most used social media site. (Twitter, you are falling behind!) I’ve only known about it for two years! An entirely image-based platform, Instagram allows users to upload pictures (and now videos) with filters, hashtags, and location tags. 700 million users at the most recent count!

Pros: Users respond well to visuals. It’s been proven that posts anywhere get more interaction if they have pictures. (Just check your own browsing habits, and you’ll see it’s true.)

Little to no writing needed. Woohoo! Spend more time on your epic!

Links well with Facebook so you can make a post once and share it both places.

Cons: Good photography needed. I’m out. 😀

There are bad images of course, and be especially careful checking out profiles of people who ask to follow you. Proverbs 7 alert!


Kate Twitter

(So the homepage had scary pictures… Here’s a favorite author’s dashboard instead.)

Oh, there’s another big name! With 319 million active users, this is the site for short posts restricted to 140 characters. It’s also the land of hashtags and easy resharing (er, retweeting).

Pros: Short and sweet! Perfect for concise and/or witty authors who need to interact with fans but don’t want to cut into writing time.

Hashtags! Not only are they #extrafun, but use the right ones and your post will connect to similar ones giving you a lot more reach. (This pretty cool post has a nice list of hashtags you can use.)

Cons: You can’t be longwinded. (Notice I’m not on Twitter. 😀 )

Bad language is a possibility as with any social media site. (And scary pictures apparently…)


Kate Pinterest

Pinterest is more about saving than sharing, but users can interact with each over the messaging app and comment section. They can also follow topics of interest, pin their own material for others to see and save, and make group boards. 😉 Pinterest has 150 million users, mostly women of all ages. 😛

Pros: Super organized! You can have up to 500 boards, so basically any topic you can think of could have one. 😉

You can pin from anywhere by adding the “pin it” button to your browser. Perfect for saving those articles and recipes you’ll absolutely forget.

There is story inspiration galore! It’s a wonderland. Follow your favorite authors, and you’ll see they’ve discovered some gems (and a way to cope with writer’s block). 😉

Cons: Where there are people there are image problems. Sorry.

If you search something, the results will be very mixed. Seriously, searching a favorite TV show doesn’t just bring up behind-the-scenes trivia and cute memes, but every language heavy exchange or disgusting piece of fanart will show up as well. (Also, follow links at your own risk!)

Be careful to know whether or not you are pinning copyrighted material. Don’t skip putting an accreditation in the description! (And never use images found there in a blog post. Find out why in this post.)


Kate Goodreads

Goodreads is not considered a social media site, but ask any of us 55 million bookworms, and we’ll call it home. ❤ It’s a platform for reviewing, recommending, and crowing about books. You can also stalk your favorite authors or get a special author profile yourself. (There are also giveaways. And it’s easy to use. And I love it.)

Pros: It’s almost entirely book-related! That’s right–BOOKS!

Reviews are sorted so friends’ opinions appear first. You can start with reviews written by people you respect instead of scrolling through hundreds of not-so-helpful entries!

The compare books tool let you view the similarities between your reading tastes and another user’s. It’s especially good for vetting friend requests. 😉

Cons: Some reviewers delight in negativity and foul-language. Don’t let them get to you or engage in argument if they are trashing your favorite book.

There are ads, but there’s a way to deal with that. 😀 (There’s a Chrome extension available here.)

Goodreads recommends new books to read. (Which are hilariously famous for having nothing to do with what you actually read. There will be some inappropriate ones occasionally…)


Kate WordPress

(It’s WordPress, I know. I’m biased.)

This also doesn’t count as social media, but I’m including it as a place to “socialize”. 😉 346 people read blogs every day! Blogging is a platform for sharing longer pieces of information and conversing about it in the comment section.

Pros: It gives potential readers a snapshot of your style. It’s like an audition!

Readers tend to give more thoughtful interaction. Facebook people are often bored or in a hurry; blog readers are here to stay for a while.

Cons: Lack of inspiration. (Or your first week of college eats your time. Not that I know anything about that.)

Spams comments. Occasionally. 😉


So there’s a little bit about some of the main platforms out there. I use all of these except Twitter and Instagram. Which platforms work best for you? Which one are you going to try?