Category Archives: publishing

Control your Facebook newsfeed, choose who sees each post

If you’re already on Facebook, it’s too late to keep Mark Zuckerberg and his cronies from knowing everything about you. But if you want some options for choosing which friends you want to hear from or share with most, I’ve found a workaround. In this post you’ll find steps for creating custom newsfeeds (so you only see updates from people you choose), and for creating custom audiences for your status updates, and Timeline posts (so you’re only sharing certain types of updates with certain groups).

While I really admire people who keep their Facebook lists pruned to a small group of close friends, or to only include people with whom they interact offline, I am too much of an extrovert to make that happen. I like operating in several wide social circles at once, both for fun and for getting support or ideas on projects.

But at the same time, it’s overwhelming to scroll through a newsfeed that includes hundreds of acquaintances. And it’s awkward sharing photos, links, or opinions with all of those people at once. In real life, people usually operate differently when they’re in different social groups. So, to me, it makes sense to do the same online. If you’re familiar with +Google, these instructions basically allow you to create +G Circles on Facebook. (Is there anyone else out there who loved +G, but couldn’t find a good use for it?) This approach is especially useful for:

  • Sharing or reading family-only updates
  • Sharing updates with certain groups of friends (without worrying about the response of your grandparents, coworkers, etc.)
  • Sharing with or reading about people in different geographic areas (my friends in California don’t need to hear about events happening in Oregon, do they?)
  • Sharing or reading personal updates between your close friends, but not your acquaintances or professional contacts
  • Updating people who are attending one large event
  • Promoting your business, blog or projects
  • Sharing links or opinions related to politics and religion (If you want to avoid a firestorm, just preach to the choir and share these with a list of people who you know agree with you)

Keep in mind that I am not an expert of any kind when it comes to coding or back-end IT stuff. I can’t guarantee that Facebook won’t suddenly revamp its settings and render these instructions useless. But I’ve been using this method since 2010 and it has worked well for me.

Create a Facebook Friend List

  1. From any FB page on the lefthand sidebar, hover your mouse over the gray title that says “FRIENDS.” Next to it, the word “MORE” will appear.
  2. Click on “MORE” This will take you to a page where you’ll see all the lists that you or FB have created for your account.
  3. If you like one of the lists that FB created for you, you can hover over the little pencil icon on its left and click “Favorite.”
  4. If you think their “Close Friends” and “Acquaintances” lists aren’t accurate, you can hide them. Hover over the little pencil icon on its left and click “Archive.”
  5. To make your own list, click on the “+Create List” button at the top. It should walk you through the steps from there.

To see a newsfeed that only has updates from a certain Friend List: Click on that list name on the lefthand sidebar. (If it’s not showing up, click “MORE” again, then click on the list you want.) This will show updates from that list only, and they’ll be in chronological order.

To share one of your status updates or Timeline posts only with specific Friend Lists:

  1. Click on the bottom-right “Friends” button in the status update box.
  2. To share with only one list, click “See all Lists,” then click the list you want.

To share a status update or Timeline post with multiple (but not all) Friend Lists:

  1. Click on the bottom-right “Friends” button in the status update box.
  2. Click “Custom.”
  3. Under “Make this visible to…” click the dropdown box, then “Specific people or lists.”
  4. A new box will appear under the dropdown box. Type in the list names you want to share with. Hit Save.

If you have any tips to add to these lists (especially tips for making the process more streamlined), please share them in the comments.

Here’s to sharing! (And choosing how we share.)


One mile per hour


Just because a river is moving slowly doesn’t mean it’s not moving at all.

Has anyone else noticed this lately? Sometimes progress is a remarkably slow process. Like the time when my friends decided it would be fun to sail a boat to an island about four miles outside of Portland. We were sailing upriver on a mild day with little to no wind. It took us at least four hours to make the trip. Yep — we were moving at about one mile per hour. It probably would have been faster to jog, or even walk, to the island, had it not been surrounded by water. But we sailed it. And even though it was a long, quieting process, those sails did carry us forward, and the island was beautiful when we arrived near sunset.

All of this is an elaborate way of saying that my work on this blog is slowing down while I’m taking on a new job teaching high school English. I’m thrilled to do the work, but it means that most other things in my life have dropped on the priority list. My Snapshot Stories and Livin’ the Dream interview series are still coming along, but you’ll be hearing from me less frequently than I had expected. I’m putting together interviews and digital media for this site with Tyler Thompson, my audio-savant brother. The results should be pretty great, but we’ll be working more like a slow-cooker crock pot than a microwave oven. In between Livin’ the Dream posts, you’ll likely see a few Rewind stories — pieces I’m digging out of my archive.

To anyone who is frustrated by a slowdown in your creative process, just remember that a lull can be part of progress. Perhaps it’s time for your creative mind to untangle a few snarls. Or grade a few papers. Or get some sleep.

Turning around, heading home

When I started Snapshot Story, my intention was to post short non-fiction stories that either told a story behind a photo or used words to create a snapshot of a moment. Turning real-life moments into art. That went pretty well for me (“For an Anxious Cowdog” remains one of my all-time favorite pieces) but I strayed from it as I got busier with freelance writing, graduate school and student teaching.

In the last week I did an informal survey of friends and readers, asking them what they’d like me to focus on with this blog. The collective short answer was, “Write what you care about. Get personal, be funny, and let us hear your voice already!”

While I don’t intend to make this blog a personal diary, it’s becoming clear that I need to act on the long list of ideas I have for short stories from my own life or from people I know. Basically, I’m getting back to my original intention. So watch for new Snapshot Stories and some Rewind pieces that I wrote in the past.

I’m also putting together an interview series here called “Livin’ the Dream.” It’ll be about people I know who do remarkable things, like running marathons, working as traveling musicians, or getting punched in the face every six months. I aim for it to be equal parts funny and inspiring, and to include audio and video interview excerpts.

If you’ve been reading anything here at all, I thank you, and I hope you’ll enjoy what’s ahead. I know I’m looking forward to it already.

Too many stories! Too many ads! Too many pages!

Flexibility. That’s what all this comes down to.

When our student team initially took to publishing at this year, it was because our newspaper had lost its printing budget. Issuu provided a means of publishing when there wasn’t money for paper and ink.

In April our team used Issuu to publish a two-page tribute to a student who died this year. We remarked over and over again how nice it was to have the option to publish a mini-issue of two pages rather than the typical minimum of four required in print shops.

But in May we found that Issuu helped students solve an entirely different problem. It wasn’t that we didn’t have money for printing, or that we had too few pages to print a full issue. This time was that the students had about 22 pages of content to lay out (that’s right — 22 pages of their ideas and hard work). AND they had raised enough money through ad sales to cover the cost of printing as many as 16 pages.(Our ad sales were almost nil before the budget was cut — necessity truly is the mother of invention, and that should be a blog post in itself.)

So now the puzzle was figuring out how many pages to print (8, 12, or 16?), which pages would be published on paper and which ones would be online-only. There was also the wonderful challenge of juggling page layouts in order to accommodate last-minute ad sales. Can I just say it? These are the BEST PROBLEMS a student newspaper could ever have.

The students handled these challenges deftly, using Issuu as a cornerstone for most of their solutions. (I promise, no one is paying me to say this.) Because it gives them an online publishing option that essentially has the same production process as their print pages, and because Issuu publications aren’t bound by page quantity, students can easily shift the order of their page layouts. If a story needs more time to come together, it can be bumped to the online edition with a longer production timeline. If a page is suddenly dominated by a large new ad, students can add a new online page for the content that gets bumped by the ad.

Once again, it’s all come down to flexibility.

Our final publication of the school year will be released May 31. In the meantime, here’s a link to the newspaper’s previous editions, which have garnered more than 2,000 page views since our online launch in March.

My only complaints about Issuu at this point are that it’s difficult for viewers to post comments, and some readers find the full-screen view hard to navigate. It seems easiest to navigate with a laptop mouse, but a little awkward with a traditional mouse.

If you’re using Issuu for classroom projects or other presentations, let me know how it’s working for you, or if there are other free publishing sites you recommend.

Here’s to having wonderful problems to solve!

Going electronic with a student newspaper

Several weeks ago, the newspaper staff at my student teaching placement site learned that they would have no allotted budget for the coming school year. To save money and to propel their newspaper into a new era of publishing, our team got innovative and put the newspaper on The results (as seen here) have been fantastic:

  • The publication has the look and feel of an e-magazine.
  • Our team saved money by printing only four pages (which were distributed throughout the school) and including teasers on those pages to lead readers to an additional six pages online. (I should note that this idea came from our student team, and was a key part of moving our team in this new direction.)
  • Within a couple of days, the online publication had about 200 views. There were about 400 views within a week, equivalent to a quarter of the student body.
  • The online publication is in color, allowing for more emphasis on photography and new options for our page designers.
  • The account that allowed us to do all this was free.
  • The viewer statistics we receive from will be used in advertising sales packets. And the opportunity to publish additional pages online means there will be more room for ads.
  • We are already planning online extra issues in between our major scheduled publications. This allows us to memorialize a student who recently passed away, to provide sports updates, and to be available for other breaking news reports.

We have our current issue up online, along with two archived issues in black and white. You can see them all right here. We plan to use at least for the rest of the school year, hopefully in conjunction with a news website that a student is developing.

I know this blog is getting a lot of traffic from readers who are interested in classroom publishing and student journalism. Are any of you using Which online resources have helped you and your students save money or reach new audiences?

Classroom Publishing: saves the day!

How does a student newspaper take the prospect of NO MONEY and turn it into an opportunity?

I’ll do my best to make this story short. I’m a student teacher this year at an Oregon high school that is preparing for drastic budget cuts. As such, the budget is nearly gone for production of the student newspaper that I’m helping advise. My mentor teacher and her students were trying not to succumb to doom and gloom, and we started looking for ways to turn this change into an opportunity.

So, again, how does a student newspaper take the prospect of NO MONEY and turn it into an opportunity? First, all of the students agreed to start hustling advertising sales, which is new and kind of scary for a lot of them, but puts them in a situation that is no different than any professional news publication. Second, we started considering affordable (or free!) options for developing an online presence for the newspaper, just in case there were times when we wouldn’t be able to pay for paper publication.

Two years ago a pair of students started developing a website for this paper, and it’s getting close to being ready for launch. But that process is always more complicated than anyone wants it to be. So while that’s in the works, we were looking for free online publishing options. A blog would be the first logical choice, but the school district has blocked any and all social media sites, including blogs. So that was out.

After a bit more digging, I found through an association of journalism teachers in Virginia. is a free (or $20/month for extra features) site that lets you upload just about any kind of document so it can turn into a shiny, almost magical online magazine. The results have a very iPad-y vibe, even when you’re not looking at them on an iPad.

When my mentor teacher and I showed the demo video to our students this week, they were absolutely enchanted. There were pockets of exclamation around the room that were so encouraging: “We could do new issues whenever we want! … We could publish photo spreads in color! … We can put hyperlinks in the stories! … We could link to it on Facebook! … It’s like Christmas morning! … It’s going to make all our dreams come true!”

So our student production manager decided to test the site by uploading files from the students’ most recent issue from December. He showed us the results yesterday and I heard gasps and “wow!” across the classroom. When he finished the demonstration, we actually burst into applause.

We’re planning to use while the newspaper transitions to online publishing, and it’s likely we’ll continue using it even after the paper’s full website is launched. We like it that much. I particularly like that it still leaves room for students to practice page design while incorporating web elements such as embedded video functions (hopefully this will make for a good match with our upcoming use of The students like it because they will be able to share it in school assemblies and recruitment presentations, they will be able to link to it on their social media sites at home, their parents will be able to email it to their friends, the school will be able to link to it on its website, and the students will be able to say on their resumes and college applications that they were part of their school’s first-ever online news publication.

Meanwhile, I’m thinking of using for my upcoming school presentations and reports, and ideas are brewing for ways to use the site for my creative writing. I am continually excited and amazed by all of the free or low-cost tools available to us on the web. Our opportunities are nearly limitless at this point. Doom and gloom, be gone!

2012: My story will be in “Our Portland Story”

Great news! One of my stories has been selected for publication in Our Portland Story, Vol. 2, which is set for publication in the summer of 2012.

It’s still early in the process, so I’m not sure which story they will include from my two submissions, but I know it will be one of my favorites — either “For an Anxious Cowdog” or “No One Will Believe Me. Oh Well.

Our Portland Story is published every other year, and is described as “part yearbook, part insider’s travel guide, and part collected memoirs […] all about Portland by Portlanders.” Volume 1 is available at numerous Portland book stores, and was released in the Fall of 2010. My friends at listed it in its “Nine Must-Reads for Locals, Visitors and ‘Portland-Curious‘” in December.

What I especially love about the publication is that it emphasizes creative design as much as creative writing. Each story is assigned to a designer who will create an unique color layout for it. The stories aren’t always printed in columns, but in forms that match the sentiment of the story and its accompanying design.The results are unique and gorgeous, as you can see on Our Portland Story’s splash page. (Under ‘Featured Stories,’ you can choose ‘design view’ or ‘story view.’)

I will post updates on the project as it moves along, but for now, I am thrilled to know that a publication like this even exists, and I feel honored to be part of it.

Here is a link to Oregon Public Broadcasting’s interview with one of the book’s creator’s Melissa Delzio.

And here’s a video that wonderfully captures what Our Portland Story is all about: