Reality Check #MFRWAuthors #43

Ten or so years ago, I was dragged, albeit kicking and screaming, onto Facebook, thanks to the coordinator of our HS class reunion.  I resisted, because as a new author, MySpace was the rage, and there were rumors of FB being full of nasty viruses.  But join I did, and spent around fifteen minutes per day on the site, reading the few friends’ posts, throwing virtual pillows back and forth to a few friends, and posting my writing progress and links.  Everyone was friendly, with some political exceptions that I managed to ignore.

But then somewhere along the line, things changed.  As I gained more ‘friends’ (I use the term loosely, since I’ve not met everyone in person), ‘hot button’ issues began appearing on my feed, and to balance them out, I dared voice my opinion, which resulted in angry responses, being unfriended, and in one case, a private message blasting me for my *gasp* OPINION.

Later, during a marketing workshop, I learned authors were advised to NOT voice our opinions on ‘hut button topics’, lest we lose readers.

So I took to my blog….and lost my traffic.  But you know what?  I don’t care.  I had to disable the comments several years ago, because I was getting hit with so much SPAM.  To my knowledge, no one’s complained to Blogger about it, because my site is still up and running.

The past three years, FB has become so volatile, due to the fact I have more friends whose political views differ than mine that I’m not spending a lot of time over there anymore.  I don’t know if it’s just the fact that being able to hide behind a computer and let our fingers post whatever vile hate we want, and not consider the readers on the other end, or if FB has reduced everyone back to their middle grade-elementary school habits, where those in the ‘Clique’ decide who’s cool and who’s not.  It used to be the ‘cool’ kids…..but now it’s the ‘nerds’ running everything, and you know what?  They’re doing the EXACT SAME THING!

When will this bullying stop?  People have forgotten they have the right to IGNORE those whose views differ from their own, instead of trying to shove their views down the other person’s throat.

The only thing I do on FB anymore is post my Morning Song, my goals for the day, and the occasional meme/link or update on my current WIP.  I also post my pictures there.  Which alarms me greatly….if FB is shut down, all my pictures will be lost, since I’m now on my 3rd computer, and my hubby hates it when I have them printed.  Remember that?  When we’d drop off our film or use our memory card at CVS to print all the pics?  Yeah, it was expensive because he wouldn’t let me do it every week/month!  In 100 years, archaeologists are going to find photo albums and wonder if civilization ended around 2008…..unless the images are somehow saved somewhere…but I digress!

I joined Twitter on the advice of that same marketing workshop, because it’s another place to put my book links.  In recent years, however, it’s become how I keep track of how well I’ve done at karaoke, since I pissed off a few of my FB ‘friends’ by posting every half hour of how well I sang XYZ song.  I also scroll through it sometimes when I’m bored at ‘roke, and was appalled at how vile it had become on my feed over there, so I went through and unfollowed a few folks.  Yesterday, it was much peaceful.

Pinterest, I joined a few years ago when I was researching hair color…..but really have no clue what I’m doing over there.  I don’t even think I’ve ‘pinned’ anything.

So in short, social media can be fun, if you agree with all your ‘friends’, or it can be hateful, if your ‘friends’ turn on you for daring to voice your OPINION.

It all depends on your maturity level, your own willingness to ignore posts, and keep your opinions to yourself.

Which is strange….wasn’t the freedom of expression one of the things our Founding Fathers put in the Bill of Rights?

To join the Social Media Conversation, click here. 

I’m off to the Collector’s Carnival in Princeton on Saturday!  I did this particular craft fair for the 1st time last year, with good results.  Temps are supposed to be in the low 60s, so I’m hoping to stay warm, and have similar results.  I did this event for the 1st time in August, but was sleepy.  I’m hoping to be wide awake this time:)


Dr. Jekyll and Ms Hyde #MFRWAuthors #42

November is a short two weeks away, and that means not just Thanksgiving Prep, but National Novel Writing Month.  I first found out about this in 2006, but since we were in the middle of moving into my former MIL’s house, I decided to put it off for a year.  And thank god I did.

I never realized I was capable of putting so much pressure on myself.  Okay, that’s a lie; I did it when my husband was in the hospital and thought I could do everything myself….which resulted in me having a meltdown in the hospital parking lot when the alternator in my car went out.  Thankfully, my parents were still around, and helped me out.

But fast-forward to 2007.  The first week of NaNo, I settled in every day after getting the kids off to school, and wrote from 9:30-noon; picked up my toddler from Head Start; fed myself lunch and settled the toddler with his toys and Nickelodean channel while I went back to work.  My older kids trooped in around 3:30, and after checking to make sure homework was accomplished, I’d return to my WIP until around 5.  After dinner and clean up, I’d be back at it until 9pm, the toddler’s bedtime, and then work again until midnight, unless I hit my 1550 word count goal for the day.

Week #2:  Same schedule, only this time, my daughter began balking at getting out of bed.  Sometimes I’d be so stressed after dealing with her, I’d read or go have coffee with a friend before going home to work.  As a result, by the end of the week, I realized my word count was falling behind.

Week #3:  I began to panic when the words weren’t coming, plus my hubby arrived home and complained about me sitting at the computer Wednesday night, and demanded I help him with the next day’s food prep.  By Saturday, I was having a full-blown panic attack, since we were only six days away from the end of the month, and I was easily 10-15K words behind.

Week #4:  Had a shouting match with my daughter about being late to school, plus made a rolling stop through a 4-way stop and got caught, which resulted in not only a ticket, but I had a meltdown in the assistant principal’s office.  Ironically enough, just the fact the man listened to me cry, acknowledged I was probably trying to do too much, and encouraged me to ‘slow down’ made me feel better, and lo and behold, the words flowed, and by midnight on the 30th, I managed to squeak over the 50K mark at 50,035.

I found out later the kids had gone to their dad over Thanksgiving and complained that ‘Mom had lost her mind’.

For the record, I NEVER want to turn into that person again….

In subsequent years, I’ve not sweated my word count.  I proved to myself I can do it, and in 2014, I worked on two projects at the same time, and finished the first one in two weeks, then spent the rest of the month working on another, with the final word count coming in at a little over 51K.

So the lesson here is, KNOW YOUR LIMITS.  If it’s too stressful, by all means, back off.  I’d forgotten the most important thing:  I’m only competing against MYSELF, and it’s not worth alienating the family to pursue a goal that’s all in your head.  Yes, it can be extremely productive, and fun with write-ins with other writer friends and the kick-off parties (we received some great goodies with our area leader!), but ultimately, the goal is to get more words written.  Even if you miss the goal, pat yourself on the back for the words you DO have down!

Just recognize when ‘Hyde’ shows up, it’s time to back off and remember to breathe.

What’s YOUR NaNo story?

EEEK!  Do you realize there’s only 10 weeks left in this year???  Where did this year go??

I’m home this weekend, but am setting up at our Farmer’s Market, at the request of the organizer who follows me on FB, and wants me to show off the two new anthologies.  Saturday night, we’re kicking off the release of Bad Decisions with an Open Mic Night.

Had a GREAT time at Imaginarium, and even got to meet Holly Bargo in person:)  Was on three panels, reconnected with friends I only see twice a year, and managed to sell four books:)  Looking forward to next year!

Ritual Or Routine? #MFRWAuthors #41

My writing ritual used to be easy.  After taking the kids to school, I’d come home, grab another cup of coffee, start up the computer (remember those days??), and watch the rest of the morning news, then turn off the TV and the radio on and head into my office to work on whatever story was demanding my attention.

Nowadays, it’s more of boot up the laptop, check social media, turn on my favorite YouTube playlist, and either work in Google Docs or wait for Word to load.  I keep a glass of iced tea in the kitchen, and I set the timer for 45 minutes.  That gives me a good stretch of writing time AND reminds me to get up and stretch.

So the question today is ‘what’s the truth behind the ritual?’

I don’t think of mine so much as a ritual, but more of a routine.

Now if you want to talk ritual, I have a classic example when I’m watching sports:  If my team is winning, or at least doing well, if I happen to be eating pistachio nuts, then I keep a supply in the house for Game Day.  Or, if I happen to be watching the game at Buffalo Wild Wings and my team wins, but I’m at home the next week and they lose, then yup….I’ll be back at BW3 the following week.  But is it ritual or superstition?  Yes, it’s a little of both.

I think this idea of ‘oh wow….the words were really flowing yesterday; I’ll do the same thing again today…’ can be both a ritual and a little superstition….but at the end of the day, what really matters is, you’ve put pen to paper, fingers on the keyboard, and you have more words than you wrote had you not done this.

And if my team makes the playoffs, or even wins the championship, then I’ve done my duty as a fan, right?

To join the conversation, go here.

I’m off to Louisville, KY this weekend, for the Imaginarium Convention!  Looking forward to seeing my Kentucky tribe, as well as friend and author Beverly Ovaille, who is making her first trip to this Con.  Bad Decisions is a finalist in the the Best Anthology category in the Imaginn Awards Saturday night, so fingers crossed we win:)

Speaking of which…..Bad Decisions is LIVE on Amazon!


Research Confessions #MFRWAuthors #40

I have a confession…..I don’t do a great deal of research when I’m writing.  It all comes from my imagination….unless something pops up that I can’t make up.  Take, for instance, Teacher’s Pet.  There’s the classic romance triangle….man caught between the new woman in his life and the one who refuses to let go.  But in this instance, the woman scorned decides to claim sexual harassment.  I had to stop and contact a member of our school board to find out what would happen if a teacher were accused….not by a student, but by another adult in the community.

In another book, All She Ever Wanted, there’s a reverse Romeo-Juliet issue.  Marc’s father is doing everything he can to keep his son from being with Amber, and at one point even goes so far as to have her cafe shut down due to (bogus) Health and Safety issues.  I had to contact both a lawyer and a City Building inspector to understand what happens during that process.

When I was researching eating disorders for Love Weighs In, I re-read several books I’d loved on this subject, plus copied several pages of a library reference book…..then used very little of it in the actual book.  The toughest part was when I called an eating disorder clinic and it took me ten minutes to prove I did NOT have an eating disorder and was honestly doing research!

But How Can Research Open New Worlds?

I have another confession:  Back in college, when I could not decide between two men, I half-joked that I wished polygamy was legal, and the three of us could simply have an ‘arrangement’.  Ultimately, I did choose between them, and I chose the wrong one.  However, about ten years ago, I began reading more and more BDSM books and M/F/M or even M/M/F books, and enjoyed them.

So I was actually ahead of my time?  LMAO….but no, I never acted on it, and have been married to the same man now for nearly 30 years (not the one mentioned above, btw!  The relationship I chose ended shortly after, and I fondly call the other one ‘the one that got away’.)

Then There’s History….

My HS history ended with WW2, and I didn’t learn about Vietnam until a college Geography class.  I was thrilled when PBS aired the Vietnam Documentary last year, and it cleared up a lot of confusion.  I also gleaned some details from reading Danielle Steele’s Message From Nam.

What about YOUR experience?  Has research opened your eyes to new ideas, or historical truths not taught in school?

To join the discussion, go here.

I have another rare weekend off!  Con season is beginning to wind down; I only have two events this month, and two next month, in addition to my cousin’s wedding.  See you back here next week!