A Vote for the Future: Three Years Since LIKES

Likes cover image

It’s been three years since I published LIKES, my little book of short stories about social media obsession.

LIKES began as a pandemic project in 2020. Suddenly without a social life as covid shut the world down, I searched for something to keep me busy.

After publishing THE SWAMP, a novel about Obama-era DC, in 2017, I had been working on short stories. I’m one of those people who always needs to be writing something; I find it relaxing.

At the beginning of 2020, my short story Apartment 101, appeared in the City Paper Fiction Issue. I thought I could put together this story and others into a collection of DC tales and self-publish them like I did THE SWAMP.

What should be included? Which should go first? How long should the book be?

My stories went into a folder in my computer and then I copied and pasted them into a Word doc. After moving them around, I noticed that there was one theme I kept coming back to: social media.

There was a story that I liked – Twitter Famous – that I wasn’t going to include because it was set in FL and not DC. But what if I changed my book into a collection of short stories about the perils of social media?

I deleted Apartment 101 and put my social media stories together.

Feeling that attention spans had been shattered by the internet, I wanted the book to be brief. Not a big novel that would scare people. Something that non-readers would read.

At the time, I had a little more than half of the stories in LIKES. I wrote and tweaked some more to fit, such as Avocado Toast.

Likes, the story that I conclude the book with, was written last, after I had settled on a title. I played around with a couple of different titles before concluding that the book was about the pursuit of social media fame. Or likes.

I had read about the perverse incentives built into Facebook and Instagram, these rat puzzles of rewards that we mindlessly contribute to, and I wanted to write something about how those incentives were initially devised. Thus, my story Likes, which goes back in time to show how the trap was set.

Designing the cover myself, using a photo I had taken during the Georgetown Glow neon display, I published the book in print and Kindle in August 2020.

Little did I know that reality would imitate art and that I would go viral like one of the characters in my book. And that the experience of going wildly viral (or fungal, as a friend said) would lead to a lot more people reading my little book about social media.

Which is why art is so important. Creating LIKES not only occupied my mind during the dark days of 2020, it was a vote for the future, and whatever it might bring.

LIKES Book Signing at Metrobar

Likes for sale

When I was asked to sign copies of my book LIKES at Metrobar, the decision was an easy one: YES!

I sold my book of short stories about social media as part of their Holiday Art Fair and Book Sale on December 5th.

I’m a huge fan of this Metro-themed outside bar near the Rhode Island Avenue Metro. It’s also right on the Metropolitan Branch Trail, which makes it very convenient for people who bike (like me). Since Metrobar opened, I’ve brought multiple groups of friends there, all of whom shared my enthusiasm for drinking outside next to a disused Metro car.

I’ve never sold books in person before. Prior to this, all my sales were online.

In our super-wired age, there’s the temptation to believe that everyone and everything is on Twitter or Facebook.

They aren’t. The Metrobar Art Fair and Book Sale was an opportunity to sell books in person to people outside my online social network.

There’s also something different about seeing someone with a physical object (a book) that you created. Something that is more tangible and real than pixels.

LIKES is a collection of dark and funny short stories about social media. But it’s also a beautiful physical object that you can put in a bag and take with you to read on the Metro. Or in Metrobar.

Get your copy today.


LIKES: A great clever little nonstop book

Likes cover imageI wrote LIKES because I wanted a little book of short stories about the dark world of social media.

In my book, I explored how social media addiction is warping all of us, from cyclists in pursuit of digital crowns to drunk tweets leading to online humiliation.

Above all, I wanted LIKES to be approachable. A short book of short stories that anyone could pick up and read.

A friend of mine left a copy of my book out to see if her mother would read it. She did and loved it, marveling over the variety of short stories in the collection, drawn from different people and parts of the world. Each story was different and well-told.

She called LIKES:

“A great little nonstop clever book!”

Which is better marketing copy than anything I was able to come up.

It’s hard to describe something you spent so much time on and have such a personal relationship with.

Looking at LIKES, I don’t see finished stories but, instead, I remember the experience of writing and editing them, recalling what I wrote but also what I took out. There were stories I loved to write, like “Twitter Famous,” my tale of viral humiliation in Florida, as well as stories that I wrote and rewrote, such as the first story in the book, “Avocado Toast.”

I don’t see the finished product, instead I see the process of getting there, all the messy backstage business that the audience never observes. That’s why it’s so hard to describe your own art. Only after time and distance do you start to appreciate what you created.

“A great little nonstop clever book!”

Exactly. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

I’ve Written a New Book: LIKES

Likes cover image

I’ve written a new book!

It’s called LIKES and is a collection of short stories about social media. In it, you’ll meet an emigre who discovers that there’s no escape from Facebook. An Instagrammer seeking fame in Hollywood. A Florida woman who goes viral after a drunk tweet. And a grandmother spreading Russian disinformation online.

Funny, dark and thought-provoking – that’s the world of LIKES.

Available in print and Kindle. Order it today!