15 Weird Things About Me

When I was a kid I was horrified at the idea of being weird. The weird kid was the one who was bullied and lost their lunch money all the time. Nope, I wanted to fit in. Not so easy, since I am weird. These days, I’m letting my weirdness hang out.   It takes off the pressure and helluva lot more fun.

  1. I don’t remember learning how to read, but I do remember I was reading before I started kindergarten.

2. In my alternate reality I am a homicide detective and I solve crimes constantly.

3. I wrote my first novel, The Addict, when I was 10. It was 30 pages long and it sucked. But my dad read every word. Bless his heart.

4. I talk to myself. In public. In private. I always have, since I was a kid. Nobody knows why.

5. I love to garden and though I’m not very good at it, my biggest tomato weighed almost 3 pounds. Oh and I talk to my plants – is that weird?

6. My favorite family pet was Rusty, a gorgeous collie who showed up on our porch one summer night and scratched on the screen door. He looked exactly like Lassie and I believed he was my soul mate.

7. My guilty pleasure is binge watching mystery shows (usually British) online. If I watch too many I start talking in a British accent.

8. Motown music will always inspire me to  get my freak on.

9. I had two nicknames when I was a kid; Neener and Rodg. I preferred Rodg

10. I’ve had many jobs in my life but the weirdest one was bus buffing. Hard on the back but definitely builds the pecs.

11. My first car was a VW Bug and it had temperamental brakes – meaning, I never knew when or if they would work. Usually, the back wall of the garage stopped the car before the brakes. My nickname for it was  “Death Trap.” I nearly gave my dad a stroke when I took him for a spin and ended up in somebody’s front yard. After that, I refused to drive a stick shift ever again.

12. When I was a kid I wanted to be a fireman or a ballerina but was forced to become a writer because I couldn’t stop making stuff up

13. I love dollar stores. It’s an addiction. I will buy anything if it costs a dollar. I’m their ideal customer.

14. If you want to make me cry show me a Hallmark commercial.

15. I really do work in my pajamas. In fact, I pretty much do everything in my pajamas. But you know, I live in California, so it’s allowed.

How about it, are you a weirdie too? Have you given in to your inner weirdness and let it shine in the light of day? Tell me all about your weirdiness in the comments, so we can revel in it together.

Writer Chick Predicts 2017

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Every year, I take a shot at predicting what the new year will bring. I’m usually wrong, though that doesn’t stop me. Here are my best guesses of what will happen in the coming year.

1. Amazon will fold CreateSpace and Audible into its KDP platform by the end of the year. Since they own both outlets it makes sense for them and will probably make it easier for authors to track sales of various publishing platforms. However, I fear the scammers that tend to descend on Amazon will cook up some new scam to hurt indie authors if this comes to pass. Look for something weird on this front.

2. Democrats will make impeaching Trump a priority with the new incoming Congress and possibly make it their first order of business. They may even try to overturn the results from the electoral college. I predict they will be unsuccessful if they try this and will probably make things worse.

3. Serious steps will be taken to distance the U.S. from the UN. Perhaps we will cut ties altogether. But whatever happens, count on protest both for and against on the city streets, with some kind of bizarre tragedy that results.

4. Anti-Trump protests will continue and major colleges will officially create Trump-free zones. These zones will come with their own specified rules of behavior, safe words, calming sports drinks and new age therapy.

5. Mickey Dees will be the first major retailer to employ robots to man their order windows. Once their first cost effective report hits the news other fast food establishments will follow suit. Think it can’t happen, read this.

6. Fox News will change its name to Faux News (Fake News)

7. Hillary Clinton will become the major spokesperson for a new email security software retailer.

8. With its recent success of rebooting old series, Netflix will pull out all the stops and do reboots of: The Brady Bunch, Happy Days, All in the Family, Maude, My Favorite Martian, Starsky & Hutch, and the Courtship of Eddie’s Father.

9. The new iPhone8 will be unveiled in early spring and be the size of a 4-slice toaster but not to worry, it will come with a complimentary backpack to carry it in.

10. Amazon will launch a new beta program for indie authors to make movies of their books.

11. A new haircut called “The Trump” will become popular with middle aged, hair challenged men and women.

12. California will distinguish itself as the first state to drive smokers into total apathy and become a ‘smoke free’ state. Authorities will be very proud of themselves until they realize they have billions of dollars in lost tax revenue to make up. Look to the dubie tax to come next.

13. In a weird pop culture salute to Trump’s election, red ball caps will dominate the fashion world and be seen in all the spring collections on the runways in 2017.

Not a pretty list, I’ll admit, but there you have it. What about you? What do you think will happen in the coming year? Will it be good or bad? Fun or a disaster? Could it possibly be worse than 2016? Feel free to let loose with your own predictions in the comments.

Happy New Year. 😀

A lollapalooza of great links to start off the week

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Birth vs Battle by David Corbett suggests that conflict ain’t everything in a story.

The Cyber Exchange Principle from the Writer’s Forensic Blog explains the Locard Exchange – the basis for using forensic evidence in crime detection.

An Almost Perfect Murder by Sue Coletta. Fascinating case study of a surgeon who almost got away with murder.

11 Tips to help you build your online community by Cat Michaels provides sage advice for building your platform.

Do You Know Where Your ISBNs Are? by Joel Friedlander, is a good nuts and bolts on ISBNs plus a free download.

How to write a great love scene by  Jessi Rita Hoffaman, provides some great tips on avoiding the schmaltz and getting to the gold in a love scene.

Who really killed JonBenet Ramsey by Garry Rodgers is an in depth analysis of the case and who the likely killer was of this sweet little girl.

Just for fun – I guess the shelf life for Shades has reached critical mass

And for laughs: Jimmy Fallon does a helluva Trump impression and this made me laugh out loud.

And just to get your week starting off right a little music.

Writer Chick Predicts 2016

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Yup, it’s New Year’s Day and time to make a few predictions (about which I will no doubt, be wrong). Because, well because it’s fun to predict the future and considering all the drinks we had last night, a few laughs might be in order. Am I right? Okay, so Writer Chick predicts…

  1. After an unsuccessful Kick-starter campaign, Barnes and Noble will go belly up – blaming Amazon for their failure.
  2. The Author’s Guild will start selling ‘information products’ for writers that promise secrets methods to beat Amazon’s algorithms. Of course it won’t work, but Amazon will be (very) publicly blamed for their author members’ low royalties.
  3. Amazon will be voted the “Person of the Year” by Time magazine – this will drive NY Times  writers into a frenzy.
  4. Apple will release the long awaited iAlarm. The innovative gadget will wake you in in ten different time zones, provide unreliable weather forecasts, and give you ten affirmations to utter before rising.
  5. ABC, NBC and CBS will engage in a bidding war for the new TV pilot based on the Star Wars movies.  However, while the major broadcast stations are mired in entertainment warfare, Fox will create a kick ass show based on Hugh Howie’s Silo Series.
  6. Amid the Star Wars mania that Disney is spending millions to generate, Ford Motor Company will come out with the limited edition Darth Vader – an SUV hybrid that comes only in black and has a hissy sound system.
  7. The Big5 publishers will team up with Walmart to create a book co-op in hopes of driving Amazon under – instead, they will drive Walmart under.
  8. In a last ditch effort to gain votes, Donald Trump will auction off his hair in a Vegas style, online event.
  9. Apple will also come out with the iPhone Jumbo which users will wear like a backpack. Some will complain about the inconvenient size, however, all will agree that the awesome clarity on streaming videos cannot be beat.
  10. PETA no longer satisfied to just fight for animal rights, will kick off a campaign for animal marriage. Next up – inter-species marriage.
  11. In a stunning revelation on the end of the year, Barbara Walters special, Michael Moore will reveal that he is a genetically modified life form created by Monsanto.
  12. The cost of oil will topple to an amazing $19 a barrel. However, California drivers will still be paying upwards of $3 a gallon, for reasons only Gerry Brown knows.
  13. Apple will also develop a new product- the iHologram – an eReader accessed by a computer chip, placed in your brain. Google will file an intellectual property lawsuit, claiming the brain chip was to be their next succession in the Google Glasses evolution.
  14. An anonymous whistle blower will reveal that Google has been an arm of the NSA since its inception. Finally, somebody will use Yahoo to search on the Internet.

How about you? What are you predictions for 2016? Tell em like you see em in the comments. Happy New Year.

Annie

 

 

 

Technology, Computers, and Me

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So about a week ago, while I stepped away from my computer to refill my coffee cup my computer refused to boot. Odd thing was that it had already booted up. Naturally, the dreaded thought of all computer users popped into my head: Virus.

I was ever so glad that I have an external hard drive that I use for back up. Because otherwise I’d have had to shoot myself.

Well, despite my crying, pleading, and begging the computer just wouldn’t boot up and in fact gave me the boot. I called around and spoke to a couple of computer repair guys who apparently didn’t need the work because they told me I could buy a new computer for what they’d charge me.

I didn’t believe them, but lo and behold they were not lying. I found just the baby I wanted and ordered it on Black Friday. Gotta love it when timing and big sales come together right?

Of course that meant it would be a week before I had my new computer. So, I pulled out my ancient eMachines (do they even make those anymore?) computer which I shoved in the closet seven years ago and set it up. It groaned, it whirred, it made this awful grinding noise but it worked. Of course doing anything more than writing in Word and checking my emails was about all I could get out of it. And even then it was iffy. But somehow I managed. (Still, I felt like Fred Flintstone trying to work with a chisel and stone tablet).

It is funny though how we get so used to things going lightning fast that when they don’t, we get upset and tense. Could explain some of the road rage you see these days, right?

Then I got the new computer and you want to talk about fast – wow – I had no idea what I was missing. I really must come out of my cave more often and see about all this new-fangled high technology stuff.

So, I guess the moral of this story is that I’m an idiot but things worked out in the end anyway.

mre thumbnailBTW, I’m doing a Kindle countdown on M.urder R.eady to E.at (Book 2 of Scotti Fitzgerald Series) tomorrow and Wednesday. You can get all that fun and adventure for a mere 99 cents. And please do. Okay – end of plug.

Hopefully, once I learn how to ride my new computer I’ll be able to do things like tweet and facebook and other fun stuff.

Annie

Happy Turkey Day and it’s been a turkey of a day

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I hope we’re all having a nice day with way too much food and never enough family and friends around us.

That said, I woke up this morning to a computer that said it would not comply with my wishes to work. After trying to coax it and a lot of begging and pleading, I dragged my old PC out of the closet and am using that. Can you say flash to the past? I forgot how slow the thing was. Oy. Computer fixer upper coming Monday.

In the meantime, I’m chiseling my words on stone tablet with sharp stick. Gotta watch the splinters.

Have a great holiday everybody.

Annie

What to expect when you self publish

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Self publishing is a new thing to me. Very new. But I have to say even in a few days I’ve learned a lot. I humbly pass what I’ve learned onto you:

Things will go wrong. For example when I sent the check to the formatters to have my files converted to digital files, little did I know that Florida would have a week of heavy rain, flooding and delayed mail delivery. It set my schedule back nearly a week.

You’ll learn what sleep deprivation really means. I haven’t slept in two weeks. My dog is afraid of my cat hides and me whenever she sees me coming. Although the hallucinations are interesting and might make for some good inspiration for a horror story somewhere down the line.

You’ll have energy you don’t know what to do with. All the hype all the anticipation all the worry, excitement, and jitters do not go away after you press publish. Actually, it is set free and you’ll find yourself wandering around thinking you have something to do when you don’t. Everything you attempt to do will go unfinished and your attention span will have reduced to that of a gnat.

Your expectations won’t be met. You’ve told yourself you won’t expect anything. You’ll publish and see what happens. But you do expect things. No matter how hard you try to act casual, you won’t be feeling it. You’ll wonder why your aunt Myrna didn’t buy a copy of the book. Why everyone you ever met hasn’t called or sent you a congrats email, why everybody else is going about their business as though nothing has happened.

You’ll have yet another thing to obsess about. Yup, just what you need. A new obsession. That shiny object is known as the Amazon author dashboard. In real time, you can watch your sales and page reads change. Or not. Or not fast enough. You’ll tell yourself that you’ll only check it twice a day – first thing in the morning and last thing at night. But you’ll check it every hour. Every half hour. Every five minutes. It’s too cool not to be obsessed by it. It’s the magic of technology.

You’ll want to cry – if you’re a guy, you may want to punch something. You won’t necessarily know why you want to cry. And you’ll resist it. You’ll try to reason with yourself. Convince yourself there is nothing to cry about. That everything is going fine. But it won’t matter because all that stress, worry, anticipation will have you hopping around like a Mexican jumping bean. Let yourself. Cry. Cry it all out. Or punch something – not a human of course, but walls can be repaired, punching bags are made for such things. You’ll feel a bit better afterward. Really, you will.

You’ll feel like you should be doing something but you won’t know what it is. Leading up to publishing you’ve had a list and you proudly checked off each item as you accomplished it. Now, you don’t know what to do. Should you keep tweeting and face booking your carefully constructed promos banner one more time? Should you do the laundry that has been piling up for a month? Should you try to get your cat out from under the bed. Chances are you’ll just check your sales dashboard again and alternate that with playing online solitaire or mahjong..

You’ll think of details you should’ve added to the books, or edited out or changed. You may even be tempted to take the book down and do another round of edits before re-publishing. Your mind is a cesspool of shoulda, woulda, coulda.

How to get some perspective

Okay so this completely new world of self-publishing is exciting but now that you’ve done it, clearly you’ve got a case of the crazies. And if you don’t get hold of yourself, you may end up

It’s understandable. You’ve spent months maybe even years preparing for this and now that’s it has happened you don’t know what to do with yourself. The following may help:

Tear yourself away from all of it. Yup. Go to the beach, go hiking, check into a motel in the mountains for a couple of days. Unplug. Leave your devices at home, or at least locked in your trunk – and forget about all of it for a little while. You may go through a little withdrawal, but after a few hours, you’ll feel better.

Stop stalking your friends and relatives with helpful suggestions on how they can buy your book. Chances are, most of them probably will – eventually. But people resist being told what to do. If you leave them to their own devices, they’ll come around. And some of them won’t. And you have to be okay with that. Though this is a milestone in your life, it’s just one more detail that buzzes by them in a blur.

Come up with a plan. After you’ve gotten some sleep, some space and some decent food, sit down and come up with a rational plan on how you will promote your book (if you haven’t already). Even if you had a plan before publishing, now that you’ve had a taste of the reality, you may need to tweak it. If you simply don’t know what to do spend some time on blogs of those who have blazed the trail already: Anne R. Allen, Hugh Howey, Chuck Wendig and Joe Konrath all have great blogs filled with useful advice for self publishers.

Start your next book. This may sound crazy. You’ve just spent months, maybe years writing the book you just published and I’m suggesting you start your next one? Yup. That’s right. If you are in this for the long haul, the next book should be foremost on your mind. When readers discover you and like your work, they’ll want more. Be ready for them. It’ll also give you something to focus on and pour all that crazy random energy into and likely be a calming influence in your life.

Keep notes. After you publish, keep a log of all the promo actions you do – large and small. Because I guarantee if you see a spike in sales, you’ll want to know what caused it. If you have a record of the actions you’ve taken, you’ll be much more able to figure out what works and what doesn’t.

Above all else, don’t become discouraged. Nothing happens overnight. Even though it may appear to be that way. It just isn’t true. There may always be the exception to the rule, but chances are you won’t be that exception. Chances are you are going to have to work hard, go through a lot of trial and error, fail and succeed continually to get to that sweet spot. It doesn’t mean that you aren’t good, that your books aren’t good, that people don’t want to read them. It just means there is a learning and experience curve. Slow and steady wins the race, or something like that.

Be proud of yourself. You did it. You had the courage and persistence to write that book, polish that book and publish that book. Of the millions of people who ‘want’ to write a book, you are one of the few who did. Be proud. That is an accomplishment. Now go write the next one.

Annie

9 Reasons machines will never take over the world

Are you a sci-fi fan? Maybe you read so much sci-fi that you’ve begun to feel a terrible distrust of machines. After all, they are going to take over the world someday right? I mean, humans are so blasé and breakable. And they have all those pesky emotions. Why wouldn’t emotionless ‘logical’ machines kick our butts and take over the world?

Well, rest assured I don’t think we’re in any serious danger because…

1. They break. I don’t care how cool a machine is or how many bells or whistles it has – someday it will break. And at the most inconvenient time. I mean think about it, all it takes is a crappy power supply and your computer just lays there. Machines are not indestructible.
2. They are only as smart as the human that made them. Even the most brilliant humans in the world don’t understand the human brain/mind. Therefore they cannot replicate it and put it into a machine. They can load it up with facts and data. But as they say information is not knowledge. It just gives you an edge in Trivial Pursuit.
3. They have no common sense. No matter how hard Bill Gates and other software developers have tried, they have yet to create software that is truly intuitive. What passes for intuitive is usually intrusive. Machines cannot anticipate what humans will do. And there is no software that can either.
4. They are no match for mother nature. Just leave any machine out in the Mojave Desert for a week and see what happens. Or drop it in the ocean for a few days. Leave it outside during a hurricane. Or drop it in the middle of a forest fire. See my point?
5. They have no sense of humor. Everybody knows that in order to survive on this planet you have to be able to laugh at yourself. If not you will go stark raving mad. A machine has no ability to see humor much less replicate it or ‘feel’ it.
6. They have no charisma. If you can’t turn on the charm how are you going to persuade anyone to do what you want?
7. They can be turned off. Although humans can be stopped it usually takes a bullets, drugs or some other considerable force to turn them off. Machines are all built with on/off switches. And power sources. Cut the switch or the power and they become a pile of parts.
8. They can’t think. While some might argue that we already have machines that think for us and there seems to be some empirical data showing that, the truth is a machine can only make computations based on whatever data it may contain. Humans have thousands of thoughts a minute, probably millions a day – but not based on data alone. It’s combination of data, perception, experience and knowledge.Machines are not sentient and can’t do that.
9. Humans won’t let them. No matter what others may say or think about this thing called the human race, one thing is for sure – we want to survive. It may be that humans have the strongest survival instinct of any living creatures. If you just look at history and what humans have survived and in fact triumphed over, it should give you pause. And even though there may be a lot of sheeple in the world who might surrender to a machine takeover, there are enough of us who would say hell no and kick their asses.

How about you? Afraid machines are taking over the world? How do you think they might do it? Feel free to espouse your theories in the comments.

WC

Eight things a writer shouldn’t tell their friends or family

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Writers are weird ducks – at least as far as ‘normal’ people are concerned. Our brains are a never-ending source of people, places, ideas, stories, worlds, languages, dialects and facts – many of which don’t actually exist. Except in our heads.

And we love to research. We collect strange, trivial facts like little boys collect bugs – can’t get enough of them. And given that we spend an extraordinary amount of time alone (in our heads) we’re not particularly good at social intercourse. Read – we lack filters.

But we’re creative. And creative is fun. And we want to share the fun. Especially since we spend so much time in our heads in our little rooms making stuff up.

So it might not occur to you that some things you just don’t want to share with your friends or significant others. Like:

1. The fact that you know at least 50 different ways to kill someone. Poisons, weapons, hand to hand combat, choke holds, garrotes, tools of torture, lethal herbs, how to mimic real life heart attacks – you know them all and find them fascinating. Sure, you need to know these things because you write murder mysteries. But do you think that cute guy or gal you just started dating wants to know that you could kill them 50 different ways?
2. That they are an inspiration for a character. Now you may think this will flatter them or make them feel special. However, given human nature, chances are they will search your stories for anything that even remotely sounds like them. Or they’ll criticize you for depicting them as a bitch or a jerk or stupid or somehow incorrect and unflattering. And God help you if you break up – a lawsuit could be in the offing.
3. That ten minutes into the movie you’re watching you know who did it or how the story will end. You’re a writer, you recognize plot points, inciting incidents, red herrings and every other writer device employed to create a story. And you’re okay with that because you enjoy seeing how other writers use those devices to craft a story. Your girlfriend/boyfriend, mom, sister, friend however, is not a writer. They don’t want to know the ending. They want to be surprised. So don’t ruin it for them.
4. That basically you think for a living. Let’s face it, we write and we write a lot but before we write, we think. While we’re writing, we think. We just think all the time – working out plots, character arcs, playing what if… Whatever. And the truth is a lot more thinking hours are logged in than anything else. This will surprise and likely disappoint your non-writer friends. Because they can think and nobody pays them for it. And let’s face it, we already have to deal with people who think that writing is the same as talking and since they can talk, writing really shouldn’t be a job, right? Imagine the response to the thinking angle. Although there’s boundless evidence that many people don’t or can’t think – everyone believes they are thinkers – and brilliant ones at that.
5. That you talk to your characters – regularly. Come on, admit it. We all do it. We all talk to our characters almost as much as we talk to the ‘real’ people in our lives. It’s part of the process. But strictly speaking, talking to imaginary people likely classifies as one type of mental illness or another. And those meds are expensive. And though  you get a lot of alone time in a little room, they usually won’t let you have writing implements.
6. That the character you created that they adore was once a clown with a gambling problem and a criminal record. It doesn’t matter that the character is currently a super hero who uses laughter to do good in the world. If you tell them about previous incarnations it’ll ruin it for them. They’ll never see the character the same way again. Ditto for first drafts.
7. Any idea you have for a book. Sure, there might be a few writer friends or beta readers you can run an idea by. But the average lay person will inevitably turn that conversation into an idea they always had for a book. They will then proceed to tell you all about their idea and offer it to you because they’ll never get around to writing it themselves. And heck fire, they’ll split the profits with you too. In the alternative, it may be such a good idea that your friend blabs it around and next thing you know, somebody else has written the book. Keep ideas to yourself.
8. How many books you sell/money you make. Unless you’re a NYT bestseller (in which case they’ll already assume you are a bagillionaire) keep your sales data and financial gain or loss to yourself. It only opens the door to criticism and suggestions of finding a real job or worse, advice on how you could do better.

If you keep these things to yourself you may pull off living up to the carefully crafted image of the mysterious, interesting writer that you’ve spent years creating. If you don’t ,you’ll just be Arnie’s and Mabel’s kid who lives in their basement and refuses to get a real job.

How about you? Have you told friends or family too much about your writerliness? Were they shocked, disappointed, sad? Did they point their finger at you and laugh? What do you keep to yourself as a writer? Speak your mind in the comments below.

Writer Chick

copyright 2015