I am a Social Butterfly.

I was distracting myself with Twitter, today. Like I do a lot of days, regardless of my mood. Today is the ever popular #2bitTues weekly hashtag, in which you share bits and pieces of your WIP. There’s an (optional) theme for that. And it’s usually something that’s either really obscure (animals, today) or something I use every other sentence. (Nodding, a couple of weeks ago.) And either way, it can be a lot of fun.

Yeah, today, it’s more Twitter by force of habit, for me. I’m tweeting because it’s Tuesday. I always tweet on Tuesday. Habits are good.

And somewhere along the line, someone asked if you could have a blog tour, if you aren’t a published author.

Hmmm… Well, I don’t see why not. Not sure I’d call it that. I like the word “Blog Hop” wherever that came from. But I definitely see ways it could be done, an done well.

And then, I invited him to come play on my blog.

Obviously, if I’m inviting people, I should definitely invite my loyal friends and readers, too. So, consider yourselves invited.

I have absolutely no idea what I have in mind, of course. Impulse invites are like that. But why not? I always seem to have fun, when I do stuff like that.

I’m participating in the StoryTime Blog Hop again in *checks calendar* uhm… July. July 27th.

Story Time Blog Hop Logo

Speculative Short Fiction Blog Hop. Click Image for More info

 

I think I’m hosting, actually, but either way, we’d love to have you join us.

And while you’re here… what are some of your favorite web-based activities? Anything stand out as extra fun?

 

Making Plans and Daydreaming

If I eat this tiramisu in six very small pieces, it adds up to fewer calories than if I eat the whole thing all at once. My doctor said so, and she’s a doctor of cartography at NGIS, so she would know.

I’m still vaguely thinking of writing a memoir. Right now, most of what seems to be coming to me is memoir-y. I don’t know if that’s because I actually should write a memoir, or just because I’m still processing things right now. Maybe a little of both.

Today was a long day. There seem to be a lot of those, right now. I woke up about an hour and a half before my alarm clock was supposed to go off. Going back to sleep never really seems to happen. Went to work. Looked at my schedule, and for once, I’m getting a little more time off than I expected. And in a usable configuration.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the time.

There’s a lake I like in the northern part of the state. I might take an old camera and go. I have my camera. I have a K-1000 that I bought used years and years ago, and I have my grandfather’s old camera. (A Signet 35). Which I’ve never done anything with, but this might be the time. The Signet has a couple of lenses in teeny, tiny little jar things. Absolutely fascinating.

Somewhere… deep in the dark recesses of the same Cabinet of Things I Wasn’t Allowed to Touch When I Was a Child, is my grandfather’s movie camera, too. I don’t know where I’d even look to find film for that. We’ll say that’s a different weekend.

And the lake happens to be right next to a state park with an atl-atl range. I mostly can’t hit anything (targets, trees, the broadside of a barn) but it still might not be a bad time to go throw around some darts. It’s still cool enough that being outdoors and on dry land wouldn’t be horribly uncomfortable.

Apparently, atl-atl is now a “shooting sport” (no, I don’t understand it, either.) and there’s a whole pavilion of shooting sports ranging from the stone age right on up.

Insomnia and I

It’s a slightly grey, slightly rainy Saturday afternoon, here. I’m just barely awake, since I got about three hours of sleep last night, and most of that, I was dreaming about staring at the ceiling. It’s a good ceiling… flat and white with three long cracks. All said and done, I’m glad it’s my ceiling. Morning came way too fast.

There’s a nice assortment of things to keep me up, right now. My writing seems to be the thing that clears my mind enough that I can get to sleep. Yup. That’s right. My writing is putting me to sleep.

I’m not sleeping.

I’m thinking about old friends, and debating the pros and cons of contacting them. I was thinking about that before, too. I ran into a really nifty video of a friend from grade school, in which he’s wearing the most incredibly convincing grown-up costume you’ve ever seen in your life, and doing… Well, more or less exactly what I would have envisioned him doing, even back then.

But then, the questions would start, and I’m not really ready to answer questions. NO, I did not name the vacuum cleaner after you. No, honestly… I did NOT name the vacuum cleaner after you. And he’d ask about my sister. Because he’s that far back, that long ago, that he couldn’t not ask. There’s something about telling him that… well, just… something. I don’t know.

Maybe later.

And then, the standard question I always wind up against, when I’m thinking of contacting someone from the past… what would they think of my writing? I usually don’t know the answer, but in this particular case… I’m fairly sure he’d love it. He might not completely get the writing as a career path (and by the way, I have my doubts, myself from time to time), but the writing itself would be right up his alley. And I’d love to get his opinion on it. After all, he’s been reading sci-fi forever.

Also, I might buy him a throw pillow, or something. It would make the room in that video look less beige. Actually, he’s the one with the lucrative career path. I might make him buy himself a throw pillow. Or… Two.

Blogging and Bubblewrap

Today, one of my coworkers asked me if my website was age censored… adult censored. Something like that. Anyway, what she meant was “Do you have one of those nifty screens that pops up and asks the user’s age before they get on your site and see… ya know.. stuff?”

There is no “stuff” on my website. If you’re looking for porn, it’s not here. If you’re looking for erotica… well, you heard me say that when I try to write erotica, it never really gets erotic. (True, by the way.) If you’re looking for sexual content… well, it’s scattered with great parsimony throughout the novel I’m blogging.

Still, the question got me thinking about that. Under what circumstances would I put an age wall on my website?

Half the time, I think the warnings are primarily marketing techniques. What erotica writer doesn’t want to remind you that her work is wildly inappropriate for children, much too exciting for the elderly, and quite frankly, anyone else should still consult a doctor before reading to be sure they’re healthy enough for literary activity?

And the truth is, without some kind of verification–a credit card charge, for example–an age wall doesn’t actually keep anyone out of a website. A little third grade math, and **poof** you know what year you were born in, if you’re “twenty-one” right now.

She asked about an age wall because I mentioned that someone left a comment that mentioned sex. Which I admitted was my own fault 😉 because of the content of one of my posts.

I told her there’s not an age-wall on my website. Why would there be? I used a word. I didn’t draw a diagram. Heck, I didn’t even define the word.

I could tell you which word it was, but that wouldn’t make much of a difference. People who have been reading my posts for the last week or so could make an educated guess, but it’s not important. I could tell you why the question surprised me, but that doesn’t really matter that much, either.

 

So, here’s the question.  How much do you child proof a website that isn’t meant for children, and isn’t likely to attract them? How much bubble wrap do you use?

Comfort Writing

My Characters are together, curled up under a warm blanket, and talking. Just talking, at the moment, although in the WIP as a whole, they’re actually lovers. They’re talking about a scar he got running on the staircase when he was a kid. It’s a twin to a scar I have on my knee. Pretty pale, now. On both of us. When it was new, it looked like somebody attacked us with a three-tined fork.

They’re talking about the factories their families ran when they were kids. His family made furniture. Hers canned fish. There are smells attached to that, and temperatures, and honestly, the whole thing reads more like a high school creative writing assignment than a real scene. Nobody’s going anywhere. There’s no conflict. Not even a tiny bit of tension.

And by the way, I’m writing this particular scene from inside a nest of pillows and blankets, myself. On real-life paper, which is a sure sign I’m looking for my own  emotions in the writing. And a better than average bet it’ll wind up being forgotten in the back of a notebook within a couple of days.

My sister’s cat… which has been living with me for over a year, now… can’t resist attacking my pen while I write, and prefers, if at all possible, to do this while sitting on top of whatever notebook I thought I’d be working in.

I’m getting kinda fond of that cat.

Community Building for Writers

Hey, look at me! I’m stealing a real topic for this post. Community building is something we’ve been talking about over on the forums at Holly’s Writing Classes. If you’re not a member already, the basic forum membership is free, and Holly’s offering a free flash-fiction course. Both worth checking out.

But anyhooo—

In real life, community building is something we do without thinking about it. Particularly those of us who live in smaller towns. And probably everybody, when they’re in a select group like a writers’ club or a book circle. (Borrow my flamethrower?  Uhm… yeah. Sure.  Sure thing, neighbor! *forced smile*)

Back when I was in a town that was large enough to have a real-life writers’ group, it was similar. Brownies and red ink for everyone! In all honesty, I think the community-building gene outstripped the constructive criticism gene 2-1. But we had a good time together, even if we weren’t all working on the same kinds of things. And let’s be honest. If someone doesn’t like your work, that information should definitely be followed by the phrase, “but here… have a brownie.”

Community building is more than just showing up. It’s actively working for the good of the group and participating in the group. One of the guys in my Real-Life writers’ group showed up.

His goal–this wasn’t funny at the time–was to convince me to give him a (specific, female) porn star’s phone number. (Long story. Kinda dull.)

He’d show up like clock work to every meeting we had, and find a way to be sitting right next to me. And obviously, he adored every word that issued forth from my pen.

What he didn’t do was write.

As far as I can remember, he never actually wrote anything, and he never read any of his work to the group. But, he showed up.

It didn’t make him one of us. And it never got him that phone number.

Heck, it didn’t even get him my rule on phone numbers.

He was there, but he wasn’t part of the community.

Participation is absolutely rock-bottom basic community building. If it’s a writer’s group, you have to write. If it’s a dance club, you have to dance. If it’s skydiving… well, I’m sure you have to at least watch the plane take off, or something.

Then learn the rules. If we’re dancing, take off that stupid ring that keeps cutting my hand. If we’re writing…

Taste is a big one. There’s a lot of difference between this isn’t to my taste and this sucks.

Pen names. Some of us have a lot of them. And for assorted reasons, even the writers’ club might not know all of them. So, the old adage about if you can’t say anything nice goes a long way. It’s an awkward silence that follows “You know that author you hate?  Uhm… I’m him.”

What else? I know there are things. Encourage everybody. Bring brownies. Food always goes a long way. Even on the internet. See? {=|=} Brownies.

Any other thoughts?

Death and Pizza Parties

I’m supposed to be going to a birthday party tonight. Pizza and balloons. Probably hats. The whole works. Yes, I can be wholesome.

More or less. The birthday boy is in his forties. Friend of mine. He’s this really outgoing, like-able, funny guy. He has a social intelligence that amazes me, sometimes. His mother helped him with the invitations.

It’s the first real live birthday party I’ve been invited to in a while.

Any other time, I’d be going to the party, but right now, it feels wrong. I feel wrong. I still haven’t been able to decide if I feel sick because I’m off-schedule and exhausted, or because my sister’s death is finally starting to sink in, or if–maybe–I’m really sick.

I have no idea how to tell the difference. The standard “drink fluids” is not helping. Or maybe I’m just not choking down as much as I thought I was.

And I didn’t even think of the party until someone mentioned it, today. Even then, I thought it was tomorrow.

Maybe I should have forced myself. I don’t know. But right now…  No.  I’m not going. I think I’ll give him a card later, though. I’ll work it out.

 

No, really… It’s Research!

One of the things I love most about the internet is the ability to look up anything without the sting of judgement, and without having to spell it for the librarian.

This is a massive shift in paradigm.

When I was a kid… and it wasn’t half as long ago as this piece of information is going to make it sound… the sex ed books were kept behind the  librarian’s desk. Because they talked about sperm. Now, it’s .0256 seconds to any kind of answers you could possibly want.

I can pretty well guarantee you that librarian didn’t have any gifs of auto-fellatio hiding behind her desk. Ditto penile bifurcation. And that video on mummies in New Guinea? Uhm, no.

She would have called your parents before the question was even out of your mouth.

Not that she’d expect it to do any good.

Forbidden knowledge was a thing, back then.

The books the library didn’t buy. The words you couldn’t say. The things your mother might tell you about, when you’re older.

There were gatekeepers.

There was guidance.

And there was community. The connections between the person looking for information and the person who had it.  “Go ask–” “That’s in the adult section.” “Try Le Video.”

I love the information, and the spontaneity of the internet.

I also love the old guy at my local bookstore who spent most of my childhood trying to convince me that he sold pre-owned books, not used books.(He thought he was funny. Or maybe that I was.) Back then, I couldn’t figure out the difference. Now… to be frank, I’d still rather have a used book than a pre-owned book.

Something a little beaten up–or at least something that opens to the last owner’s favorite parts–with comments and jokes in the margins. Something that reminds me of the last person who had it. Something that was actually used. That is, read.

Open Foot, Insert Mouth

Today is the latest in a long string of bad days. I don’t get much sleep, and I don’t have a lot of patience left, right now. I’m trying to get back to my online writing community, and honestly… I’m probably too close to my last nerve to do it well.

So, it’s one of those days, where whatever I say seems to be wrong, and whatever people say back to me seems to be harsher than it was ever meant to be. And I feel like an idiot.

I want to be encouraging. I want to say, yes! go ahead… take the plunge. You can do it!

But I wind up saying Go jump off a bridge.

I want to be supportive, but I wind up supporting the wrong thing, or at least appearing to.

I want to be part of my community, but I’m not feeling all that useful, right now. A little outsider-y. A little closed out and boxed in. I’m out of sync with myself, right now, and so I’m not really doing the intuitive thing well.

So, anyway… here I am, putting one foot in front of the other. And honest, I’m trying to be a good cheerleader.

Keeping in Touch

Hard to believe the A-to-Z Challenge got over and I ran out of letters less than two weeks ago. Let’s be honest… I have no idea what I’m going to be blogging about right now.

Something upbeat and positive, I suppose.

Or something fictional. Upbeat and positive are a little hard to come by, these days. Might as well make something up.

I do not want to talk about the last two weeks. Things started going to pot right around Z, and I’m still off kilter, and a little disoriented. The highlight of the last two weeks was the cannoli. Which had little maraschino cherries stuck in the ends, and was absolutely crisp and freshly made. A little Cointreau in the filling, and I’d cross state lines for this cannoli.

It still won’t make up for the last two weeks.

Nice effort, though.

So, I was reading my own novel (on my phone) at lunch, today. And it’s really not too bad. There are some things I’d like to fix, and some things that I actually kinda like.

Don’t you love it when people ask you what you’re reading, and you answer, “my book”, and they think you’re being flippant?

NO!!! I mean, I’m reading MY book. The one I wrote.

What’s it’s name?

No idea. But it’s MY book.