On “Followship” and The Lord of the Pings!

Part I – The Fellowship of the Ping

Steep Into This

Like writing, brewing tea is an art. There’s nuance to the amalgam of ingredients, timing, and temperature. It’s more than just a tea bag and hot water. Timing seems to be the differentiator. This verb chef has been steeping in the subject of this blog post since the ACFW conference. The time has come for me to toss it out there for a taste test. I’m taking a seat at the dining table. Won’t you join me?

I’ve arrived! Woo-hoo!  Sing along with me now, to the tune of “Jesus Loves Me”

Thee, Us, loves me, this I know, for my *mailbox tells me so.  (* insert your favorite social media icon here)

I’m old fashioned; I still get a kick out of snail mail. And that includes rejection letters my writer friends. I got a kick this week. I received an unsolicited piece of “hunk” mail. I won’t call it junk mail just yet, because who knows, there could be some meat to this after all. Hope pings eternal!

The “hunk” mail came from a legitimate business entity that offers services to small businesses and sole proprietors. Now here’s the tingly part. It was addressed to:

David Fry

Verb Chef

Kewl! Somebody found my blog! Somebody made a connection between me and well, my presence on the web. I say this because the only place I’ve used the moniker of “verb chef” is on my blog or on the ACFW loop. I highly un-suspect the loop, therefore, the search mechanism that made this connection had to trawl or crawl my blog. And my blog is in its infancy.

But wait. I just said “search mechanism”. Why do I hear a piercing scree of a sound and sense a gust of air escaping as though from a balloon? It’s because my tingly has been terminated. It was a purely electronic and automated process. I got a ping but there’s no sing. Meh.  L

What is a ping?

It’s a mechanism to get the attention of another entity with the hope of eliciting a pong response. A “ping” sensor (in the submarine sonar sense) can also measure distance using sonar and hopefully elicit a corresponding “pong” which helps the sender to know that they’re not alone and how far away the target is. Geeks know that we can “ping” hosts on a computer network to see if they’re alive, up, and functioning.

Ping hopes for a pong; to validate closeness, existence, and significance.

Are you a member of “The Fellowship of the Ping”?

See if you resonate with this. Say you start a conversation with your hearers like I’m going to model here:

Folks, welcome again to my blog – there’s still the smell of popcorn in the air from my last post but now I’m breathing the steam from steeping tea and … WAIT! WAIT!! WAIT!!

My waist just vibrated (ooo! That feels good – it tickles, it tickles right on down the inseam). I know, I know, this is a guy thing. Ladies, your purse might jingle and jangle since you’re not likely to wear a “communicator” at your waist.

And hold on. Was that a chirp, a buzz, a foghorn ringtone, or a snippet of the Bee Gees singing, “Stayin’ Alive”? No Matter. No worries. All I know is that I’ve just been pinged! Somebody likes me! That’s right. Hang tight dear readers. I’m important to somebody. My cell tells me so. One moment please.

And then the letdown. Oh. It’s just a poke from FaceBook. Or, somebody’s invited me to play “Scenery Ville”* – whatever in blue blazes that is. (* If somebody starts up an app for that, I best be getting some royalties for that puppy, just sayin’.)

And so we wait. We wait for that next ping to fire off some endorphins and make us feel significant.

If you can identify with one or more of the following, you’re likely a member of “The Fellowship of the Ping”:

  • You jump and spill your drink & the smile on your face could light up a carnival when your cell phone chirps, gurgles, beeps, wails, vibrates, lights up, rings, buzzes, or whistles Dixie
  • You find yourself refreshing the landing page of your blog in (3) web browser windows, to see if the “hits” to your site increase; getting more and more excited as the number climbs – all the while not realizing that your constant refreshes are being recorded as visits
  • You get into a poke fest on FaceBook, giggling manically as you try to out-poke another poker
  • You miss the call of your number at the DMV because you were texting (4) people at the same time – then again, it IS the DMV, so this one might  excused
  • You watch the ranking of your book sales on Amazon and email everyone in your orbit –  including your doctor, the pharmacist, your online bank & paypal accounts with the news AND attach a link to get a cowbell app that plays every time a new sale is posted
  • You publish a post on your blog and monitor for comments as though it were an Olympic event; cajoling grandma to post a positive comment under the guise of your dream agent or editor
  • You feel like you just swallowed a handful of caffeine pills and act mighty twitchy when you get a sweep of “Likes” to a FaceBook post
  • You tweet that your hamster fell off the wheel and you just can’t cope with writing right now; using the hashtags – #dizzyhamster or #hamstrungbypethamster or #wheelscameoffmywriting
  • You pin pics on Pinterest showing skimpy unclothed books to stir up a murmur
  • You get stuck in a mention loop on Twitter when you thank a “mentioneer” for a mention of you; they thank you back, you say “Don’t mention it.” But then retweet a mention of that.

So the thing is, we’re all poppin’ online all the time AND engaging in lots of “you doing“. Are we being consumed by the likes, the pokes, the tweets, the retweets, the pins, egraphs (electronic autographs), etc.?

Are we unwittingly inflicted with POS? (Ping Of Significance)

Think that one over until my next blog post …

Here’s the question I want you to ponder before I release the next blog post in this series.

If indeed we are inflicted –

Who do you think is The LORD of the Pings?

Do share your thoughts on that. I invite discussion. This could be enlightening.

You’ve been pinged! I await your reply.


  1. Hi David,
    I still struggle to find that 20% that works. My first book released in 2009. I jumped on the bandwagon of blog interviews, hopping from one to the other to promo. My first royalty check? It paid for two fast food meals. Ha!

    I continued the blog hopping interviews another 2 quarters. The royalties fizzled even more. I kicked myself for spending 10 hour days promoting. Hey, when was I suppose to write my NEXT best seller? Did I mention I’m on dial up internet. That means everything takes 10 times as long. (Can’t get anything else in the sticks, and can’t afford Hughes net.)

    After that, I dwindled my interviews to a handful per year and my royalties climbed. I now can buy two steak dinners! Wow! Okay, so I start Tweeting, but Twitter pages take forever to load, and so does Facebook. My remedy. It’s the PING, but not the PING you mentioned. Another author told me about PING.fm. I signed up. Once a week I send out a 140-character promo on each of my releases and PING shoots it to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Blogger. I don’t even have to go to sites. It makes my life a lot easier. And I do check to see the page views, noting they always increase the day or day after I PING the promo. Also, now I can buy 4 STEAK dinners with my quarterly royalty check. Woo-hoo!

    My deduction: Until I sign with a publisher who pays advances, I tripping in tall cotton. (A Southern expression) Another good Southern expression I apply to reworking my Ms. “I had to lick that calf over again.”

    Seriously, though this isn’t an ad for Ping.fm, (now improved and called Seismic Ping), it has simplified my life.

    • Laurean,

      Okay, I’m laughing to tears here. What a treasure this – “I had to lick that calf over again” – thank you for brightening my day! I will remember this on my rewrites. Too funny! Bless you.

      I admire your spirit. Though that 20% is elusive, you continue pinging away in several ways. I cannot help but think perseverance will prevail.

      Now this is the aspect of blogging that I love. Shared conversation and story. We as a family of writers have so much common experience that we “get” each other. A great fellowship.

      It is interesting to hear your experience. If I could invent a TPD – “tipping point detector”, I would help writer’s know when the crest is coming and encourage them to hold on; wait for it – that next blog post or interview or promo that is going to break through the swells and plant them on the Beach of Knowndom.

      Story is King but it would be nice to ride a red “magic” carpet onto that beach.

      If I DO invent that TPD device or mechanism, I’ll only charge 1 steak dinner! 🙂

      Seismic Ping! I wondered how long it would be for someone to mention that. I had forgotten that it used to be Ping.fm – thank you for sharing that. I almost mentioned Seismic in my post but then forgot about it. Glad you brought it up – as it fits.

      So maybe it’s a pinch here, a dollop there, a tablespoonful in the air and one day we’re on a roll (cinnamon or otherwise). 🙂

      Thank you so much for sharing Laurean!

  2. First of all, I’m chuckling out loud, so that’s a good thing. Especially with the headache that’s been shadowing me all day!

    I have the pings turned off on my blog because I got tired of pinging myself whenever I linked to a previous post.

    I dumped Facebook because of all the ‘batter’ I was getting. To follow your blog theme, my Facebook account was more like the drippings than the onion rings. I just didn’t need the irritation. Or the batter, come to think of it.

    And I would much rather get an email or a USPS-delivered letter than anything from social media (and a lot of emails go straight to the spam file).

    I agree with Chana. Social media is a balancing act and the line between not enough and too much is very very thin.

    But each person also has to decide where their strengths are. I believe the old adage is that 20% of our efforts reap 80% of the benefits. Find that 20% and work it for all it’s worth. Work the rest as time or need allows. For me, the 20% is writing, painting and… my blogs. That’s about all I have time for.

    Did I mention, I turned off the pinger?

    Still grinning….

    • Carrie,

      What? No ping ring? LOL! Those ping-backs are a delight aren’t they? I appreciate your honest approach to this topic.

      Oh, then you had to go and mention onion rings. So many layers, so many tears. I’ll never think about them the same way again.

      I hear you. Give me a USPS letter or email. Social media is a vapor, so much steam escaping from a pressure cooker. And there IS pressure – to respond, to ping back, to acknowledge the pinger, to join a cause, to play a game, to simply being a pingee – all in a virtual cyber soup.

      We have to learn how much steam to let off to achieve that balance of great cooking. And I hope we can whistle with delight along the way.

      I really like your admonition to find that 20% and work it for all its worth. Put that 20% in the pressure cooker and enjoy the taste of fine art cooking (music, painting, dancing, writing, or whatever).

      Thank you Carrie for bringing the theme back to the table.

  3. It’s all about balance–and that’s a very difficult thing to accomplish in the cyber world.
    If you don’t babysit it, a lot, it dwindles and fizzles.
    If you babysit it enough to make sure things happen, it can become a fat, little baby that requires a diaper change every time inspiration for real writing comes.
    Keeping God first every minute of every day is the key.
    It has been my longstanding opinion that the internet is like taking hold of a Silmarillion under Sauron’s control. It takes a tremendous force of will to get on there, do exactly what you set out to do and then extract yourself before he sucks the life out of you.

    The ol’ Necessary Evil that, admittedly, I’d love to live without. However, without tons of bucks or powerful publisher behind me, I’ve gotta learn to balance connecting with real writing–and then somehow detach from all of that to live the other 80% of life.

    Blessings on you, my fellow writer wrangling this wayward Promotion beast.

    • Chana,

      I’m delighted you stopped by! Thanks so much for joining the conversation. I absolutely love your babysitter analogy. So apt. You’ve encapsulated the essence of this discussion in a remarkably visual way, and with a hit of wit.

      And the follow-on analogy of that Silmarillion – A stupendous & powerful image. I’m resonating like a tuning fork.

      Balance indeed. I need a Master class in that. But we must begin somewhere and you do well to mention keeping God first, as key. I concur. The challenge then is for me to “DO” and do so without ceasing.

      I dream of making that math work as well – to somehow stretch the 20% to cover it all. I even debated whether to launch and engage in a blog because I was concerned it would rob my novel writing resources. I still struggle with that. And yet, I want a place to “experiment” with voice.

      So here’s to balance and here’s to wrangling onward. Thank you Chana for joining me on the journey!