Waiting and Waiting

Seems like a big chunk of my life, right now is waiting for things to happen. I wound up ordering a few things for the writers’ conference. Nothing quite like trying to figure out what you’re going to wear for three days to remind you just how long it’s been since you’ve gone shopping. I’m pretty much a jeans and a t-shirt girl, so going a notch up seemed like a good  idea.

I also splurged on something generally costume-y the first costume party I’ve been too in ages. I miss those. My dance studio used to hold one every month, so it’s a shock to go from knowing exactly where to borrow a coconut bra to having to pick something out of my own closet.

Since I won’t actually be dancing up a sweat, I’ve declared the event Fun With Makeup Day. There’s a pint of liquid latex (Another thing I can’t just borrow anymore.) arriving on Monday.

There is the possibility that a shockingly high percentage of my friends have become breathtakingly normal.

I’m still eagerly awaiting the final schedule for this thing, which was supposed to be out in “Mid-April” and I’m pretty sure I just heard the sound of “Mid-April” whooshing by. (Also wearing something out of her own closet.)

My revision is not exact-ally finished, but I’m getting close. Very close. I’m pleased with where it’s going, and I have something vaguely resembling a road map. I think people might still remember me by the time it lands in their inbox, which is a nice thought.

They will definitely remember me, if I can scare up a coconut bra.

I believe the guy who owned that is married with three kids, these days.

So, Now, I’m in “The Loop”

Ha! Somebody finally gave me the heads up on something happening in enough time that I can actually paste the appropriate happy/non-horrified look on my face when I “officially” hear the news later on. If I do hear the news, later on. It’s not a given.

Someone I knew a while back is pregnant.

We have heard this via Cluster-Fbook and the current topic of conversation at the moment is math. Exactly how long is 9 months, and can the baby be due in (month) if girl is x months pregnant right now, and if we assume that the current boyfriend is the father?

Have I mentioned that I work in a cess pool of gossip?

I work in a cess pool of gossip.

Cluster-FBook does not help.

**shudder** 

Deep down inside, one of the things I love most about WordPress is that it’s not a least-common-denominator platform. It’s not the default, which means that the people who are on it tend to be smarter than average. (Love you guys.) And it tends to attract people with real-life interests, and hobbies outside of people-watching.

Being quite honest, I also love the fact that I don’t automatically have to friend or un-friend my third grade teacher, my second cousin twice removed, or my snoopy co-workers. And while word of the pregnancies does, eventually reach me, I usually get to skip the potty training stories, and the bad haircuts.

People ask if I’m on Cluster-FBook on a fairly regular basis. I’m fairly sure that no one (except a few close friends) has ever followed that question up with “Or, you know… a self-hosted, free-standing WordPress Site?”

And it’s weird how often I say I’m not on Cluster-FBook, only to hear someone defend their own use of the site. I only use it to trade recipes with a few people, or I get ideas for crafts. I’m in an antique group. I use it to keep up with my grandkids.

That last one always hits me as a little sad. Keep up with the grandkids? Really? You’re reading your grandkids’ lives in newsletter form? Don’t they… ya know… visit? Call? Paint you crayon drawings?

The long distance kids thing can be a little on the accusatory side, too. Wait… you mean you don’t want to hear about how my kid made a poo-poo in the potty? But I have pictures. IN COLOR!!!

And never mind the way it enables the bad times to snowball on you.

I’m just not a fan. I see what’s in it for a business, and I even see what could potentially be in it for my business. I’m not sure I see what’s in it for me. and I’m not sure that I see it as anybody’s first choice.

On Blog Hops and Challenges

April is shaping up to be a slightly above average month. It’s not fabulous, and it’s not dismal… just slightly above average.

I’m doing the A-to-Z challenge this month, which, all things considered, is not all that much of a challenge, since I make blogging a part of my daily routine, anyway. My theme is the letter M. No, I don’t know what I was thinking. The general idea is that each day, there’s a post with a different letter of the alphabet, and also an M. It’s not a bad idea. It keeps me from settling into the familiar, and I’m learning new things, mostly by diving into wikipedia at the last moment and searching for something—anything–that fits the theme.

I started the month with a modest spike in traffic. Several days a little bit higher than I usually get. And now, that seems to have trailed off.

The past couple of days, I’ve actually been lower than usual. That may be that my readers don’t really want to hear about basketball or physics, and it may be the fact that tracking down those subjects took me longer, so the posts weren’t out anywhere close to my usual time. I’m not sure.

I’m expecting another spike at the end of the week, when I do the StoryTime blog hop. Which, by the way, I’ve worked out a way to fit into the A-to-Z challenge. (So much easier when you get to make things up! Thank you, fiction!)

So, all in all, April will wind up being slightly above average. I’m not knocking it.

The thing is… I’m not sure to what extent it’s the challenge or the hop, itself that drives the numbers. I’m starting to think it may be the interaction, the going out and meeting people. The enthusiasm for it. The sheer convenience of having people listed in one neat, orderly place.

I wind up with good results, whenever I’m out there, starting conversations. But when I do it on my own, I’m looking for people I have a lot in common with, instead of just working down a list.

And I’m usually working on my own blogging platform, so it’s easier for people to follow me and interact than it is when I’m on somebody else’s list. (No, I don’t know whether that’s a good thing in the long run. From time to time, I’ve thought about running a mirrored site, so that one or two of the other platforms get in on it. I don’t know.)

So, I’m thinking about what my next steps should be, and honestly, I think they’re going to be more seeking out people than blog hops or blogging challenges. I know I need to get out there more often.

What do you think? How have you grown your websites and blogs?

A-to-Z Challenge: Quantum Mechanics

So, my q for the day is yet another topic I know little to nothing about, but have happily twisted to support both this blog and various nifty plot developments in my novels. On the bright side, I’ve heard people say that if you think you understand Quantum Mechanics, you don’t. So, clearly, I’m right up there with the best and the brightest.

At least when I throw a party for time travelers, it’s wildly popular, they show up and bring space drugs. Anyway, that’s the way I remember it. And that one guy was a hell of a bongo player.

So, basically–and anyone who was ever a child will understand this–the rules for small things are different than the rules for large things.

Quantum Mechanics would be the set of rules that appear to–but might not–apply to very, very, very small objects. Yup. That does sound familiar.

It also sounds like a great name for a band–if you just added a little sex–something like the Quantum Tantric Mechanics–or for the guy who fixes your space ship or your time machine when you break your drive shaft somewhere in the horse head nebula.

The last book I picked up on the subject–a used copy– happened to be signed by a science-fiction writer who didn’t write the book.

A-to-Z Challenge: Manitou and Pike’s Peak Railway

Just in case you missed it, I’m headed to the Pike’s Peak Writers’ conference in a little over a week. So, my mind is already out in Colorado, and look at this, I’ve found a railway just for you to look at.

Remember that hiking path that ends in a parking lot out in California? Well, this is the slightly more historically face-palm version, with trains. Pike’s Peak is named after a man called Zebulon Pike (Imagine having to scream “Zebulon” in bed! His poor wife.) Zebulon never made it to the summit, but they named the mountain after him, and at some point, they named this particular railway after the mountain.

Guess where the railway goes?

Yup. Straight to the summit. Six to Eight times a day.

Poor Zebby.

So, on to the details everybody’s been waiting for. The Manitou and Pike’s Peak Railway runs 8.9 miles, between Manitou Springs, and the summit of Pike’s Peak. It is a standard gauge railroad with tracks 4 feet 8 and a half inches wide (as the Great Architect of the Universe intended.) (because narrow gauge is creepy.) It is a cog railway, which means that it has a third track with little teeth, to pull the train up steep places (like, say, a mountain.)

The older engines are on display at Manitou Springs and several museums through Colorado, and some of the historic (but still conveniently functional) engines and cars are dragged out and actually used from time to time.

I’d tell you how perfect and beautiful the scenery is, but I already said it was in Colorado.

This year, my inspired Alphabetical Challenge theme is “The Letter M”. I’m working my way through the alphabet, one M word, M, person, or M place at a time. No, I don’t have any idea what my Muse was thinking on this one.

If you want to learn more about the A-to-Z Challenge, or join in, the website is here.

A-to-Z Challenge: Orlando Magic

The Orlando Magic is a basketball team based out of Orlando Florida. Basketball is a game for very, extremely tall people, in which they attempt to launch an orange projectile through a net located somewhere in the lower stratosphere.

I was tall, myself, once… and then, the coach realized I was five years older than he thought, and wasn’t on the team in the first place. My parents chuckled for a week, after I asked for money to play this particular sport, and somewhere along the line, my fascination with it died.

Back to Wikipedia.

Apparently, the team has three whole uniforms. There are diagrams. (Okay, so I’m a fan of sports with more minimalist sartorial tastes. Who isn’t?) Sorry, girls. All three uniforms are basically variations on burlap bags.

Blah, blah, blah… started in 1989, and the team mascot is a dragon called Stuff.

You’d be surprised what a short jump it is from basketball to sexual fetishism on wikipedia.

Nope. I have no attention span for statistics, although there are clearly plenty of them..

If anybody has anything to add, go right ahead. I don’t think this particular M caught my attention the way some of the others have.

 

A-to-Z Challenge: Norma Miller

Norma Miller is a dancer. Lindy Hop way back in the early thirties at the Savoy ballroom in Harlem. She’s a classic, and a little bit of everything else. The woman dances, writes (songs and books), directs films, and acts (film and stage.)

As you might be able to tell, I’m an actual fan. I’d probably be a puddle on the floor, if she ever actually talked to me.

Her autobiography, Swingin’ at the Savoy is well worth the read, and be sure to look up her films. She’s still alive and well at 97, so buy new, and send her a note to tell her how amazing she is.

Here’s a scene from Hellzapoppin’ (With dancers labeled by name.) It’s one of the great dance scenes of all time, but it is from a bygone era, so you may want to give it a quick run-through before you watch it with children.

This year, my inspired Alphabetical Challenge theme is “The Letter M”. I’m working my way through the alphabet, one M word, M, person, or M place at a time. No, I don’t have any idea what my Muse was thinking on this one.

If you want to learn more about the A-to-Z Challenge, or join in, the website is here.

Safety, Common Sense, and Selling Books

So, you already know I was on a mini-vacay last week. I needed that. The stress of stress would have eaten me alive, if I hadn’t gotten out. Nothing quite like grabbing a friend, ditching real life, and hitting a neighboring state.

And, as it turns out, there was another writer in the motel.

It wasn’t me that ran into her.

“There’s one of your people in the elevator.”

My people, by the way, can mean anything from my close friends to whole groups of people I happen to belong to. And, let’s be honest, my mind shot straight to dancers, because they’re easier to pick out of a crowd, and because I actually do know dancers in KC.

My friend was a little wigged out, though, so my mind skipped from dancers to band members, and maybe a few specific individuals she might be able to recognize as “my” people. Mutual acquaintance type “my” people.

I asked.

“One of your book people.”

Okay. So, I’m lost. How could she possibly know that someone she met on an elevator was a book person? I mean, we’re pretty mellow, compared to some of my acquaintances.

Turns out the woman had gone all Bookseller of Prey on her.

She was pretty shaken, after an elevator pitch that had gone from small talk, to buy my book, to let’s-trade-room-numbers-you’re-my-new-bestie all in the course of three floors. I don’t blame her. My head was spinning, just thinking about it.

But, I was also thinking about the other woman. Was she someone I do know? Someone I will know in the future?

I’m not sure freaking out strangers on an elevator (in a motel!) is the best way of selling books. The thing about an elevator pitch is… well, at the other end of the elevator, your target winds up in an office, full of his or her trusted co-workers. You aren’t necessarily alone in the elevator, either.

And I’m pretty sure that inviting strangers back to your hotel room to get the books that you don’t have with you isn’t the safest idea, either. Remember that old joke your granny used to tell? The one where she slapped a guy because he invited her up to his room to see his etchings? (And it turned out there really were etchings?)

I don’t really care what risks you choose to take in bookselling… but make sure they are a choice. Make sure they’re a sensible choice, and make sure they’re an effective choice.

This one happens to be an unnecessary and ineffective risk. You’re taking all the risks your mother warned you about in luring strangers back to your motel room–I won’t get into those–and you’re also scaring off your risk conscious customers.

Most women–and probably most men, too– are NOT going to go knocking on motel room doors to buy a book.

Get a tote bag and carry a couple of books with you. That way, you aren’t taking a risk, and you’re not asking your customers to take that risk, either.

A-to-Z Challenge: M&Ms

Here I am, crawling out of bed on three or four hours worth of sleep to bring you this life-altering post on M&M’s candy pieces.  It just seemed natural to do a double M for the day, and that’s what I came up with first.

M&Ms had the chance to star in the ET movie, but they weren’t willing to pay for the product placement, so now all the little green men eat Reese’s Pieces.

I happen to be all about the peanut butter M&Ms. (In a nostalgic, non-diet busting kind of way.)  Aside from the fact that they’re peanuty without that slightly over-roasted flavor that less discerning people might call “burnt” you can also–if you’re very, very careful– bite the chocolate shell off of the peanut butter core and walk away with a perfect, UFO shaped clump of peanut butter.

What? Everybody deserves a sense of accomplishment.

And then, you eat that lump of peanut butter, too.

Nope. That’s about as zen as I get.

This year, my inspired Alphabetical Challenge theme is “The Letter M”. I’m working my way through the alphabet, one M word, M, person, or M place at a time. No, I don’t have any idea what my Muse was thinking on this one.

If you want to learn more about the A-to-Z Challenge, or join in, the website is here.

 

A-to-Z Challenge: Lise Meitner

Lise Meitner was a physicist who laid some of the groundwork for the atomic bomb. She studied independently, since the university of the time did not accept female students, and ultimately took an exam to prove she understood the material. I happen to think skipping the hassle of university classes sounds like a swell idea, personally.

She worked with Max Planck and Otto Hahn (sometimes for free), served as a nurse in World War I, before returning to her research in Berlin.

She lost her job as acting head of the chemistry department at the Kaiser Wilhelm institute after the rise of Hitler, and his race laws, and escaped to the Netherlands.

The fact that she did not share the Nobel Prize with Otto Hahn for work on Nuclear Fission is contributed largely to her gender.