100 Ghosts by Doogie Horner

100 Ghosts cover art from AmazonAdorable! 100 Ghosts is a delightfully simple collection of silly and clever ghosts. My favorites are the Kingsized-bed and the Used Car Lot ghosts. Everyone in my family enjoyed this book!

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William Shakespeare’s Star Wars by Ian Doescher

William Shakespeare's Star Wars cover art

I can describe William Shakespeare’s Star Wars in one word – Hilarious!

The first thing I did when I opened this book was to scan through the pages looking for the famous lines. You know, like “These are not the droids you’re looking for,” “That’s no moon, it’s a space station,” and of course “May the force be with you.”

I was not disappointed. It was such a fun read. Five stars!

Social media plan for a big shindig

Gala ReceptionOn June 22, SMU celebrated the last big bash of their Centennial year.

I started working here in January, pretty much in the middle of all the planning and events that were happening all over the place. All of my co-workers were completely stressed and the phrase “after the Centennial” was frequently spoken. I realized early on that I would never find out what “normal” is here until “after the Centennial.”

My part of the Centennial was social media coverage. I started pushing out facebook posts for the All-School Reunion and Red Carpet Centennial Gala months before the weekend arrived. The posts consisted of historical photos of campus and faculty members (these were much loved – or liked, to use the Facebook term), links to the newsblog articles regarding the events and a bunch of other status updates that described different aspects of the events. I had a google spreadsheet that I used for planning the content that would go out to the various facebook pages, and twitter.

The facebook pages consisted of three accounts that I have admin rights to. The majority of the posts went out on what I like to call the main facebook page, smumn, which has the most followers. Some of the posts were shared on the SMU.SGPP and the smumnalumni pages. A student worker was in charge of  a weekly trivia game on the alumni page which seemed to be popular. Every tweet was tagged with #smumn100. Once Facebook enabled their hashtags, I tagged every post on Facebook as well.

About a week before the big weekend, I started directing our followers to the smumnalumni page. The goal was to turn the conversation over to that page since the weekend was really targeted towards our alumni audience. I reminded the other two pages’ audience that the weekend updates would all take place on the alumni page. From the time I started directing traffic to that page and throughout the weekend, the alumni page gained 44 followers which is more than it gained in the last three months added together.

During the entire weekend, I ran myself ragged going to as many events as I could to take a few photos and post them on the alumni facebook page and on twitter. I used my iPhone to do this with the Hootsuite and Pages applications. It would have been ideal to have a team and assign a few people to each event so it could have been covered better, but that didn’t happen. I planned on using Instagram for photos, but that didn’t happen either.

After it was all over I started experimenting with Storify, RebelMouse, Scoop.it, and Tagboard for getting the hashtag story out to our followers.

Storify seems to be the most popular – it was always at the top of the list when I did a google search for aggregators, hashtag compilers, etc. I didn’t love it. It had a hard time pulling facebook posts in which is where most of the conversation took place pre-event and I wanted to get the whole story out there.

RebelMouse was the easiest – it pulled in everything. That was a problem; it pulled in everything. When I attached it to the alumni facebook page, it didn’t stop at the #smumn100 hashtag, it pulled in a lot more than that, which I had to manually delete. And, as far as I could tell, you could only attach one facebook page to it so all the posts I made pre-event were again neglected.

Scoop.it would have been the best, had I used it from the beginning. It is really easy to manage what you want scooped and it looks great in the feed. I haven’t promoted the scoop.it feed to anyone but it had views. Strange. Anyway, the downside of this is going back in time – utterly impossible. I don’t see a way to date the posts on their original posting date – it appears in your feed on the day you “scooped it” which makes things out of order. I used Scoop.it in the past and was an avid user but I just didn’t think of it in time for this event. I will, for sure, use this for the next one though, from day one.

Tagboard has a great look to the feed, but again, I didn’t love it. The free version was a little limiting, you can’t edit what gets out there and we’re not interested in purchasing anything at this time.

My experience with this event has brought me to the following conclusions:

  • Get a team to cover everything better, not just one person trying to cover everything half-assed.
  • Start compiling the story from day one using scoop.it. Don’t wait until afterwards to try and find everything.
  • The content calendar worked great – keep using that.
  • The hashtag worked great too – in fact that was the key
  • Promote the hashtag as soon as you create it and frequently there-after – don’t wait until a few days before the event.
  • Carry an extra charger for the iPhone during the event and up your data plan for the month – unless of course you can use a company phone. I had to use my personal one – which is another reason I didn’t get Instagram set up in time for it.

The Resurrectionist by EB Hudspeth

The ResurrectionistDeliciously Creepy!

Dr. Spencer Black spent his childhood grave robbing with his father to help supply the local med school with specimen to practice on. Naturally, he went on to medical school himself when he grew up. He became a great doctor who specialized in the mutated growth of human beings. Sometime during his practice he began to suspect that they weren’t mutations after all but residual genes from animals we all thought were mythical. To prove his theory, he started on a dark path of secret surgeries, manipulation, and insanity.

The last half of the book are Dr. Black’s anatomical drawings – amazingly detailed – of the creatures he is convinced are not mythical, including harpies, minotaurs, dragons, etc.

While reading this book, I kept thinking that it would make a great History Channel documentary. Tom Waits would be the perfect guy to create a soundtrack for it.

Sword of Shanarra by Terry Brooks

Sword of Shanarra cover art Sword_of_shannara_hardcoverThe first time I read this book I was probably about 12 and it was one of the first fantasy books I had ever read. I can’t say that this was THE book that got me hooked on the fantasy genre – I’m not sure if there was just one – but it was definitely one that stayed in my memory for all these years. It was well worth the re-read.

Countdown City (The Last Policeman #2) by Ben Winters

COuntdown City cover artThe asteroid is coming. It’s getting closer. Only a few more months before it hits. Humanity is changing…

You know the end of the world disaster stories where everyone is living normally one day but then the next it’s a race to survive… Or the post-apocalyptic stories where the race to survive moment is over and communities and laws have already formed and a new normal becomes the way of life… well, this book tells a completely different story.

It’s not a race to survive. There is no rebuilding or planning for the future – everyone knows they will more than likely die when the asteroid hits – or soon after. There is no hope, for most.

Former Detective Hank Palace stays sane by creating his own hope. Even though he was fired from the police department – times have changed, nobody needs a detective any more – he decides to take on a missing person case. His old babysitter is frantically trying to find her husband who she claims just disappeared one day. He tries to convince her that he probably went bucket list along with thousands of other people, but she insists that’s not true. The further he investigates, the more he believes her and starts looking in earnest.

This is a great story that shows strength of character and perseverance even though most of humanity has lost hope. I give Countdown City by Ben Winters 5 out of 5 stars.

Great news on a dreary day

I received two bits of great news today and I’m not sure which makes me happier.

One: My Federal income tax refund is on it’s way to my bank!

Two: A copy of the The Resurrectionist is on it’s way to my mail box!

If I could, I would be doing back flips right now. Here is a photo of an octopus. It’s obvious that he shares my joy.

octopus