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

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The Grumble List

I don’t know about you but I have a few pet peeves. They’re really small unimportant things that I shouldn’t let bother me – but no matter what, this stuff sets my teeth on edge. Some are universal and some may just be me. But since I’m in the mood to grumble, here they are:

Men proclaiming to be feminists. Now, it’s not that I don’t appreciate the sentiment, I understand it’s an attempt at compassion or empathy. Still, sorry fellas, if you’re not a woman, you’re not a feminist. I mean, when was the last time you spent a job interview having some guy stare at your chest? Or called you honey or baby at work? Don’t even get me started on mechanics, auto salesman, salaries and everything else.

Auto dialers, auto responders, auto messages, auto tweets. There’s nothing quite as heartwarming as having somebody from a phone center auto dial you and not notice when you’ve answered the phone. Although sometimes the conversations you overhear while the jackhammer doesn’t know you’re listening can be great material for characters. Ditto on auto responders, messages, tweets – anything that just comes automatically and has little similarity to a human being.

Pets and children out of control. In a park or a Chuck E. Cheese you definitely expect kids to be running around like wild unrestrained creatures but not in a restaurant, or a grocery store. I understand that kids are hard to handle and parents are often overworked, stressed out and so forth. But when I see a kid climbing the grocery shelves while his mother is talking to her BFF on her cell phone I want to call Child Services. Same with dogs running loose. Sure, in the dog park, not a problem, in your yard, also not a problem. But when I’m walking my little mutt on a city street and an unknown Doberman bounds toward us without an apparent owner in sight, I’m not amused. Especially when the owner (who eventually appears) laughs and says he’s harmless.

Cashiers who hand you your change and receipt all in one stack, without counting it back to you. What are you supposed to do with a receipt, bills and change all dumped into your hand? You know the person behind you wants you to move so you can’t stand there and separate it, especially since his shopping cart is butting up against your butt. And I’m glad that the cashier has counted my change back to him/herself because if it’s good enough for him/her, heck it’s good enough for me.

People who expect you to be their audience. I know a few people who a seriously lacking in conversational skills. Their idea of a conversation is for you to stand there while they espouse their opinion on something, a topic you aren’t even interested in, and essentially tell them how brilliant they are. If you dare to interrupt them with an opinion of your own on the topic, you usually get a wagging finger and a blunt, “I’m not finished yet.” Sorry, I’ve got news for you buddy, I’m totally finished.

What about you? What sets your teeth on edge and drives you up the wall? Have you found a way to not let it bother you? How did you do it? Let me know in the comments.

Writer Chick

Internet Truisms

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I’ve been playing in cyberspace for several years now. In fact, if I had to stop playing on the Internet it would make me sad and I’d probably need a 12-step program to help me through it. But in my travels I have observed there seem to be certain truisms on the Internet. The following is my list; raise your hand if you recognize any:

  1. Always post the most flattering pic of yourself for your profile – even if it’s 20 years old. Unlike the real world, this is perfectly acceptable. If you don’t believe me, ask anyone who has ever signed up for an online dating service. Yikes.
  2. No matter what term you use for image searches, you will always get at least one naked picture in the search results. Apparently naked goes with everything.
  3. Anybody who says they handle their social media posting in under an hour a day is lying. I don’t care what you say; I don’t believe anyone handles their social media in under an hour. Not if they’re actually participating in social media.
  4. Nothing ever goes away on the Internet – if it was posted it’s out there somewhere. The good news is that we still have hope of finding that funny cat picture that seems to have disappeared.
  5. If you have a web site you’re automatically an expert in something. Unlike the old days when you had to have a brick and mortar store, for very little money and a little bit of skill you can put up your store on the Internet and become an expert. Actually, I’ve even seen marketing ‘experts’ advice people to act like an expert and people will believe it.
  6. You’re nobody if you don’t show up on page one of the search results. Kind of interesting that our self esteem and confidence in our products and services is based on some secret algorithm that we have no way of controlling.
  7. Information is king on the Internet. Ditto with information products. Even if you are selling information about information, are blogging about blogging, or writing about writing – somebody will buy it
  8. Half the trolls on the Internet are 14, live in their parents’ basement and rarely go outside or have contact with other human beings. At the very least, this gives one some perspective, right?
  9. If you say it enough times on the Internet, it’s true. (See #5) This to me is one of the most powerful and yet mystical truths. A person can make the most outrageous statement on the Internet, with absolutely no proof or supporting facts and if they can get it circulating and enough people reading it, suddenly it becomes true. Scary much.

In your Internet travels, what truisms have you stumbled across? So did I miss any Internet truisms? Any you care to add to the list?

Ten Signs That You Were Meant to be a Writer

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Ever wonder if you were meant to be a writer? If so, the following may help you decide.

1. You’re more comfortable making stuff up than dealing with reality

You can spend the day, imagining strange new worlds, a new language or a new superpower. When you were a kid, the other kids came to you for creative solutions to ditching school. No matter how much trouble you get into, you always manage to talk your way out of it. You’re damn good at making stuff up.

2. You’ve worked in at least five different careers and none of them stuck

You’re a multi-tasker. You seem to be good at everything. But you get bored easily – once you’ve mastered something (or just gotten the hang of it) you tire of it and move onto the next thing. Alternately, you know a little bit about a lot of things. But no matter how nice the office or how pretty the benefits you just can’t get excited about anything that doesn’t involve making stuff up.

3. Rather than looking away, you study people who do weird things in public

Weird people doing weird things, especially in public attracts you like nothing else. You could watch them for hours and never get tired of it. Often you take notes and rush home to tell your significant other about the weird guy who could play Rhapsody in Blue on his lips. Weird is just cool, right?

4. You have an incessant need for people to pay attention to you but you can’t sing, dance or act

You crave attention. You try hard. You could be a perfectionist (which is not to say you’re a clean freak). You want people to notice you – you may try to impress them with your knowledge of rare cracked china teacups, or the proper way to load a musket or other unending sources of trivia that live in your head. Deep in your heart you long to entertain or enlighten others but know you can’t get away with it in person – hence the need to make up characters who can get away with it.

5. You quote yourself on Facebook and Twitter

Nuff said.

6. Your only use for reality is research

Reality is boring unless it somehow feeds into or validates a storyline, character arc, or fictional scientific breakthrough. You’d rather live in any of the worlds where you make stuff up.

7. Your idea of aerobics is meeting your daily word count

Gyms, leotards and yoga do nothing for you. But trying to meet your totally unrealistic daily word count makes you break into a sweat that requires three showers and five clothes changes a day.

8. You can successfully carry on both sides of a conversation

You don’t need friends. You know how to be the good guy and the bad guy. You can speak in accents. You can pull off any personality affectation known to man. You can spend the day having conversations with your many selves and feel complete content.

9. You’re attracted to all things strange and weird – people, places, buildings, pets, foods, movies, you name it – if it’s weird it fascinates you

Accidents, acts of nature, strange food, weird bugs, the homeless guy in the park who talks to the mirror glued to his hand all fascinate you. You never tire of anything that is odd, unusual, strangely attractive and magically menacing.

10. People describe you as quirky, different, unique, or interesting

Reliable, responsible, stable, grounded are not typically the words people use to describe you. You’re quirky, unusual, weird, a laugh riot, even ca-razy but never normal.

So what about you? When did you know you were a writer?

Writer Chick
Copyright 2015

Are you part of someone’s tribe? Has the tribe spoken?

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There’s thing going around about being part of someone’s tribe. (It may be blasé by now and perhaps marketers have moved onto something else because I’m often behind the latest trends…but anyway….) The idea here is that a writer or otherwise creative entrepreneur type person needs a tribe. A group of people so dedicated to them that they spread the word. Offer support. Pledge undying loyalty to the person, their products and/or their brand.

Now aside from family, which I think is actually a tribe of sorts, isn’t this a little bit weird? Even your group of friends could be a tribe, I guess. Or your co-workers. But like total strangers?

Am I missing something?

I’m a writer and I write books and I’d love people to buy those books. But do I want a Jim Jones mob following my every move and quoting me to others? Is that really the idea? Do I want my face to be the favorite Halloween mask next year? Didn’t they used to call this hero worship or some such?

See, I’m asking all these questions because I don’t know

What about you guys. Do you have tribes? Or are you part of a tribe? Do you wear special costumes? Have your own line of makeup? A secret handshake? A nifty decoder ring? Do you all post baby pictures on Facebook at a designated time every Thursday? Go for teepee camp outs and such?

Let me know. Educate me. Explain it to me. What is this tribe thing all about?

Writer Chick

Amazon goes to court over fake reviews and other scintillating reads this week

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Amazon files first-ever suit over fake product reviews, alleging sites sold fraudulent praise
Hold onto your hats, think Amazon doesn’t like reviews written by your mom or best friend? They really hate it when somebody builds a business around fake reviews.

20 OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL LIBRARIES IN THE WORLD – Gary McLaren at WorldWide Freelance Writer offers us awe-inspiring buildings that honor books – so beautiful they almost look like houses of worship – and maybe they are.

Top Social Media Turnoffs. Forbes gives us a pictorial of the top social media turnoffs.

Nicolas Sparks:Writing and Proscratination go Hand-in-Hand.
Interesting insights about writing from famous romance writer, Nicolas Sparks.

10 Resources To Upgrade Your Grammar And Writing Skills from BhatKallys.com is a handy list of resources to up your grammar and writing game.

Okay my friends, start reading. And feel free to talk about these stories with each other in the comments.

Have a great week!

Writer Chick

Talking Dirty (Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge)

Chuck Wendig’s Fiction Challenge this week: So, given all the hullaballoo with Clean Reader (“read books, not profanity”) this week, I thought a flash fiction challenge in pure defiance had some meaning.

Thus: I want you to be inspired by that debacle. I want you to write filthily.
Or write about filth. Sex, profanity, perversion. Fiction or meta-fiction. Any genre.

In some way, take something from the discussion about censorship and profanity and vulgarity and sex and — well, throw all that stuff into a blender, whip it up, and see what foamy frappe belches out into your story.
Censorship

“So Chuck wants me to write something dirty.”

“Chuck who?”

“You know Chuck? Terrible Minds?”

“Well if he has a terrible mind, no wonder he wants you to write something dirty.”

“No! I didn’t say he had a terrible mind – Terrible Minds, that’s the name of his blog?”

“Why would anybody name their blog that? Terrible Minds..well gee, wouldn’t that make people think there were terrible things happening over there?”

“You’re digressing.”

Blank stare. “What was the question?””

“Well, uh, should I? Write something dirty? Well not dirty exactly – profane – er, ah, stuff with swear words in it. Y’know?”

“Sounds like a terrible mind at work to me…”

“No man, it’s about censorship.”

Rolls eyes, sighs and taps foot.

“What?”

“You writers are always so worried about being censored. I mean, what the hell’s your problem? You think people are lying awake at night just devising methods to squelch you?”

“It’s been known to happen.”

Smirks. “Right.”

“You never heard of book burning? You never heard of book banning? What about the Salem witch trials?”

Yawns. “People say all kinds of things on the Internet, doesn’t mean they’re true.”

Pulling hair. “You’re really not helping.”

“It gets weary you know, being your enabler all the time.”

“Enabler? You? The only thing you enable me to do is beat my head against the wall.”

Stares curiously at a hangnail. “Then why do you keep coming back and asking for help?”

Grits teeth. “You kind of owe me.”

“How the fuck do you figure?”

Shaking fists. “I give you life.”

“Says you!”

Smirk. “You think anybody else hears your squeaky little voice yammering in their ear? Ah—no!” Whining. “Come on! Help me!”

Sighs. Sighs harder still. Throws up hands. “Fine. Sure, do it.”

“Really?”

“What’s the matter, yes not a good enough answer for you?”

Frowning and scratching head. “What should I write?”

“How the fuck should I know? You’re the writer. I’m just the lowly editor. I’m just the voice of reason when you’re totally out of control, which by the way, you are most of the time. I really don’t even know why I talk to you at all.”

“You’re sure?”

“Yes.”

“What if people get upset?”

“Fuck ‘em!”

“What if people don’t like me anymore?”

“Let’s be honest, how many people really like you anyway?”

“Good point.” Thinking. “Okay…once upon a time there was a fucking…”

“Maybe you should use fornicating.”

Frowns. “Okay, once upon a time there was a mother fornicating…”

“No, don’t use mother, you could offend mothers and mothers shouldn’t be offended.”

Heaves a sigh. “Okay, once upon a time there was a non-gender-specific fornicator who…”

“Wait!”

Looking up and frowning. “Now what?”

“I think there’s this app you should download…”

Writer Chick

copyright 2015

Do we have a right to be offended?

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I just read a post by writer I really respect. He was commenting on another writer whom I’d never heard of and had some controversy swirling around him. I have to admit I had no idea what the article was talking about until I followed the links provided at the end.

The topic was sexism and an off-handed remark the author made about his books and writing. Apparently, many people were extremely offended. And a few got on their righteous indignation horses and rode them all around the neighborhood screaming at the top of their lungs about the utter gall of this author. Hmm…

In my opinion what the accused author said wasn’t offensive. It may have been a bit of a cop out, or maybe he was kidding or maybe he just didn’t want to answer the question but it didn’t denigrate women. If anything, the author seemed to be putting himself down for being somewhat clueless about women.

Yet, surprisingly a shit storm happened anyway. And now this author may be branded as a sexist. Sad. Really sad. Because based on the description of his books it sounds like he is one helluva writer.

I don’t think the Bill of Rights covers that

While the Bill of Rights ensures certain personal liberties the right to be offended and then to punish said offender does not exist within its confines. In fact, one of our guaranteed rights and liberties in this country is free speech. We in fact, have the right to say whatever we want in public. If it offends people so be it. If people agree with it, so be it. If people don’t agree with it, so be it. But we still have the right to say what we want.

However, what we don’t have the right to do in this country is to slander people. There are actually laws against it. You can actually be sued for doing it or attempting to do it. You could lose a lot – maybe everything – if you were taken to court for it and lost.

Still that doesn’t seem to stop some people from trying to stir up a shit storm and turn the masses against said offender. It doesn’t stop people from starting whisper campaigns and attempting to bully people out of existence. It doesn’t stop anyone from trying to destroy a person. God bless the Internet.

And in the end, this type of incident only serves to scare other writers and public figures from saying anything or writing anything of substance. Because they fear retribution. Because somebody might get offended and try to ruin them.

Small things are never the problem

There are many many things in this world that are truly oppressive, vile, disgusting and downright evil. And I believe as human beings we have the right and the duty to rail against them and if possible stop them. And oppression of women is on that list. There are cultures in this world that:

  • Treat women as chattel
  • Buy and sell them for sexual gratification
  • Mutilate their bodies
  • Stone them for having been raped
  • Kill them because it somehow restores honor
  • Beat or otherwise abuse them for fun

These things are wrong. Very wrong. Yes, we should try to stop them. Yes, we should try to help women in these situations. Yes, this needs to change. However, this author did none of these things. He simply said he was clueless about women.

And while there are many good examples of women being objectified in literature, 50 Shades comes to mind (a book written by a woman and read apparently widely by women) this author’s books (based on their descriptions) don’t seem to qualify. But apparently an absence of women now qualifies as offensive and God help the author who doesn’t include them.

Sorry but this doesn’t make sense to me. And in the reverse would we even be talking about this? For example, all of the thousands of books that explore and discuss and illustrate the trials and tribulations that women go through, are they sexist too because there is a sparsity of male characters? Or the male characters are bad, shallow, stereotypical? I haven’t heard one peep about such a notion. In fact, in modern literature, film and other entertainment venues male bashing, shaming and joking is not only okay, it’s expected.

The problem with this sort of situation (aside from the obvious) is that it’s not really the problem. Yes, there is oppression of women but this isn’t an example of it. And maybe it’s easier to fixate on this very tiny incident than it is to actually go after blatant, obvious real acts of oppression. Because it’s safer. And maybe you don’t think you’ll suffer retribution from it. Or maybe something else. And the problem this type of situation creates is that it doesn’t solve the problem you’re railing about, in fact, it ends up marginalizing it. It ends up having the opposite effect that you are shooting for, it ends up making the real problem disappear and killing the wrong horse, so to speak.

It’s like when a couple has a huge fight over the fact that the garbage wasn’t emptied. Now is the fight really about the garbage? Probably not, it’s probably really about the fact that one partner feels the other partner doesn’t listen to them, doesn’t respect them or care about their feelings. But that’s just too big a bite to chew. That’s too dangerous a topic to broach, so instead they have a knock down drag out about garbage for cripes sake.

Be the change you want to see

There is so much in this world that should be changed, could be improved or even brought to some ideal state. But bitching and moaning, complaining and attacking others does not bring about change. It only brings about fear. It only lathers up others into a feeding frenzy. And no one ever feels good afterwards. We all just feel crappy and then more crappy about it.

Beating up somebody about a negative real or imagined rarely changes anything. If you want change, real change, then you have make that change. If you see something that is wrong then change it. If we as authors want to change the perception of women in literature then we have to change that perception (and in fact, thousands of women authors are doing this everyday). As the saying goes, be the change you want to see in the world.

All the time, energy and effort that goes into attacking somebody for being a certain way or not being a certain way could be used to change the perception or even reality of a situation – and too there is less hate mail.

Writer Chick
Copyright 2015

That damn dress and other blog posts I loved this week

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Though there were lots of blog posts around the Internet this week, these are my faves. Lucky us we have the weekend to check them out. 😀

Of course life would not be complete if the Internet wasn’t exploding about something or other. But really is the dress white and gold? Black and blue? Let science explain. Here’s the science behind that goddamn dress

Fascinating that this social media venue seems to be leaving all others in the dust. 10 Amazing Facts About Pinterest Marketing That Will Surprise You

Who knew the word princess could cause such a shit-storm of controversy? The comments are very interesting and entertaining.  The Princess Author Syndrome

I found this whole concept fascinating and thought I might give it a try myself. I love the intimacy aspect too.  Reaching Readers: 7 Reasons You Need A Walking Podcast

For those of us looking for ways to stand out as authors, audio books are something to consider. Good nuts and bolts post on the how-to’s.  How to Produce Audiobooks with Amazon ACX

Which is the best venue for you? Read the post and you decide.  Amazon vs Apple

Have a great weekend.

WC