Running My Mouth

I’m enjoying the last ripples of one of those freak social media surges, and–as usual–debating how on earth you can harness something like that. One week into October, my Twitter impressions are up. More than 500% up (yes, that’s a cool way of saying 507%) over September.

This is as a result of me hopping into a conversation between two people I don’t know, and running my mouth about something completely un-writerly, and unrelated to anything I do.

Last time, it was armpit hair. This time, it’s photoshoots involving children in the U.S., and child marriage in other parts of the world.

And it’s always something un-writerly.

Here’s the formula: Pop into conversation, and just talk. Sometimes, it turns out that the person you’re talking to is a minor celebrity, and **poof**.

Formula for avoiding any kind of writerly surge: Glance at conversation. Recognize brilliant author. Turn into quivering bowl of jello.

The bar to send me all fan-girl is lower in a sport I actually follow and recognize names from. And I’m positive that none of those people are even slightly concerned about my opinion, or the state of my armpit hair.

I’m not even sure I see them for the most part. I’m probably more likely to follow a band I perceive as an up-and comer than an author who’s–OMG–UP–and COMING.

I may have self-esteem issues, there.

Or delusions of grandiose.

Or it could be a matter of the writers are all under my writer rock with me, whereas I’d have to stick my head out from time to time to actually know I’m talking to a rock star, sports star, or popular stand-up comedian.

What about you? Who makes you speechless with awe?

Antiques for Freaks

Okay, so I’m a little weird. I’m just going to let that soak in while all the normal people leave the room. In this particular circumstance, it would be polite–by the way–to pretend that the 64 ounce Big Slurp finally caught up with you, or for that matter, just to fake a coughing fit.

Either way gets you out without hurting my feelings.

So, that’s it. All the normal people have now been given the opportunity to leave.

Now, here’s the other thing I visited at the antiques store the other day.

I was kinda hoping the price had gone down, but no. Still out of my range.

However, the information about him had changed. He is now a hundred years younger (And I trust that judgement every bit as much as I trusted the other guess.) And he is still missing a calvarium.

The 1/2 ribcage is now much more clearly marked as separately priced. (It is still arranged so that you can’t see exactly where and how it was cut.) Also sold separately, female pelvis.

And the rest of the case is completely filled with horror-movie kitsch.

**sigh**

What a way to spend eternity.

There Are Holes in My Socks

I am staring at my online shopping basket, and alternately thnking of deleting everything–because it’s more money than I had intended to spend–and just clicking BUY BUY BUY. I got a phone warning that I’d never seen before–one that told me my phone had been turned off because the battery was overheating–and I’m getting more and more nervous about leaving it to the last minute.

The phone in my basket is a little higher than I would ordinarily buy, but it’s Sooo shiny.

And it’s a bargain… I’m hardly spending at all. It’s more like saving, actually. Just ask the people who want to sell it to me.

Okay. So, I need a new phone. But spending the money? Somewhere along the line a cell phone has gone from being the coolest thing ever to  being more like another pair of socks. Yes, I need one, but it’s still not a lot of fun to think about.

I could keep this going a little longer, couldn’t I?

Not forever, of course…

I probably won’t burn anything down.

Right?

Longaberger Baskets And Absolutely No Other Antiques

Not so long ago, a friend of the family showed up for a few days, and started talking about Longaberger baskets.  Now, to be sure, I had gone a full long time without having the foggiest idea what a Longaberger basket was, or–actually having any interest in baskets of any kind.

These would be the Rolls Royce of baskets. If one breaks, you can send it back to the factory, and they will fix it. (My impression was for free, but you know… baskets.)

You know. The pinnacle of basket making.

Well, they are pretty nice as baskets go. I can’t say I’m crazy about Americana, but then… well, let’s be honest… Any time someone says anything about an art, a craft, or a hobby being profitable, I’m right there. I could make baskets.

Okay, well, maybe I could learn to make baskets. Do they really have underwater basket weaving classes? I could be a performance artist/basket weaver/mermaid.

Oh, yes. I know all about baskets. These ones are square.

Based on some things that were said during the Longaburger love event, I take it that all of the above were very reasonably priced.

(Longtime readers will be interested to know that this is the same antiques mall that my dear deceased friend “lives” at. And I’m not showing pictures, until all the new antiques-y baskets-y normal people love me enough that they don’t mind the occasional cadaver.)

Is Reading a Zero-Sum Game?

I posted a poll on Twitter, the other day. There wasn’t any real intent behind it, except maybe the idea that I’ve been looking at the same picture of the same trees for too long, and needed something new to pin to my profile page.

The question was Would you be interested in a private, membership library? Yes or no. I didn’t even manage to come up with a snarky third option.

Full disclosure: I didn’t think the question was political, at the time. I didn’t really think anyone would have strong opinions about membership libraries, and I actually didn’t know that I had strong opinions. I have paid fees to libraries that do not lend directly to the public; about 50 dollars, as I recall, but I’m not sure if that was per year or per semester.

Everything is political. Some days, I think I could announce to the internet that Horny-Toad sperm tastes terrible, (that’s pure speculation of course) and I’d immediately wind up with five people protesting that I’m being unfair to horny toads.

So, the first response I get is from someone I know (Twitter Style) and they are very against private libraries, and here’s why: in their opinion, private libraries would take funds away from public libraries.

You note, of course, that we’ve already skipped to where they are talking about future private libraries and I’m talking about present tense ones.

Oh, okay.

So, I ask if the subject matter would make a difference. What if the library were dedicated to something utterly obscure? Ventriloquist dummies, or phrenology? Something not generally of public interest? Something that would get a city librarian fired, if she spent a few thousand bucks on it?

And that’s where the conversation begins to separate out.

It’s not that we have any deep, dark differences. We’re both people who support the reading community, and books, and writers, and education, and all the things that go with it.

It’s just that she believes libraries are a zero-sum game–that my ventriloquist dummy library on the other side of the town, diminishes interest in public libraries, and therefore in funding for them–and I don’t.

She’s horrified by the idea that someone will start a private, membership-only library and that lower-income people will wind up being left out.

I’m equally horrified by the idea that private ownership of books is seen as a threat. I have trouble differentiating between private libraries (good) and private libraries (evil). Or even, for that matter, where “library” begins and “private citizen who owns books” begins. After all, if my ventriloquist dummy library is a threat to funding… wouldn’t bookstores, and e-readers, and Amazon also be a threat to funding? And wouldn’t I have more interest in funding public libraries, if private citizens simply weren’t allowed to own books?

I found myself looking for the line–the point at which a private library goes from good to evil–and not finding one.

She tried to explain it to me–size, maybe, or renting separate space, or maybe the first time you take out an ad in the local paper–but I just wasn’t getting it.

And I’m pretty sure she wasn’t following my logic, either. After all, we started out in different arguments. In hers, reading is a zero-sum game. In mine, it’s not.

I believe that every book in a community enriches the community as a whole. Whether I read it or not. Whether I want to read it or not. Whether I’m able to read it, or not. It adds to the culture of literacy.

I believe that if I walk next door to borrow a book, the door will be opened.

She expects it to be slammed in her face.

(Did I mention that we come from different backgrounds?)

So, I’m still sitting there. I’m waiting for someone to define a way in which my own library–my collection, my house, and my culture of literacy–is not one of the evil libraries. A way in which I’m not essentially a membership library, already.

And she’s listing all the fabulous, valuable things that libraries do.

But she’s not explaining why I should be allowed to keep my books, but that private library over on 16th street is an abomination.

Loaning books to your friends is not the same thing…

And I wait to hear how it’s different.

How many members make a library? (And what, exactly is a member?) How many books? Am I good, if I just don’t offer copying services to the members?

If I invite friends over to study, and we all exchange books, and talk, and whatever… we’re not competing with the public library until we all decide to go dutch on ordering a pizza, right?

What if we’re not friends? What if we’re randomly matched study-buddies? What if I set up a Little Free Library, and never even lay eyes on the people who borrow my books? What if I just make people sign a contract that they will not dog-ear the books, and they won’t eat cheerios while they’re reading?

No… I can’t wrap my head around the idea of reading as a zero-sum game. It just doesn’t work for me.

IWSG: The Personal Stuff

Insecure Writers' Support Group logo

Click the image to join the fun!

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG
October 4 question – Have you ever slipped any of your personal information into your characters, either by accident or on purpose?
The awesome co-hosts for the October 4 posting of the IWSG are Olga Godim,Chemist Ken,Jennifer Hawes, and Tamara Narayan!
I’m not really sure how personal information has to be to be personal information. An old friend of mine says that I’m an audience person, as opposed to a people person, or a private person. More comfortable on stage than mingling afterward.
The ideas that I’m playing with find their way into my stories. Sometimes, I sneak in a “message,” but I’m probably not going to write my best friend into a book, and I’m always careful that nobody’s recognizable on the blog unless they want to be. So, while I might give you the general outline of a real-life non-writer I know, it would never be something like “My friend JOHN SMITH who is exactly 5 foot Nine with Red Hair, freckles, and lives at 123 Embarrassing Lane…”
And, mostly, the messages are thinned out, and the ideas aren’t totally things that anybody’d be wildly concerned about, anyway.
Some of my places are based on places I’ve been, and some of them are research, and some are made up. I’d like to believe no one can tell the difference, but I’m pretty sure they can. If I’ve taken up a hobby, it’s fairly likely that someone in my WIP does the same thing. (Of course, there’s a good chance I’ve moved on before anyone sees it.)
For me, the question is more… what do I want to share? I try never to share something, if I think I’ll change my mind in a week or a month… And how much can I share before people start hating me in great masses?

Small Business Growing!

There are two old-school bakeries worth mentioning near me. Now, don’t get me wrong. There are some really snazzy new places (most of them come and go) and if you want your wedding cake to look like a major sculptural extravaganza, we can certainly arrange that. I’m pretty sure some of them have sharks with lasers on their heads, too.

But in small-town bakeries, the kind that used to feed towns, and somehow, manage to have some staying power, there’s a 100 year old bakery that has mostly gone to doughnuts (beautiful, mixed, raised, fried, and filled in-store doughnuts served farmer-early) and a Czechoslovakian bakery that does things with prunes and poppy seeds. (with a small, but loyal following, and a summer festival that brings in a crowd.)

And while a blockbuster crowd once a year is great–and they’ve been staying in business–I was happy to see some of their pastries packaged up for sale at a gas station in a (different) nearby town.

I’m not sure if I got there late, or if they’re just starting out with flavors for tourists, but no… there’s not a prune or a poppyseed in sight. (The ones on the far left are blueberry.)

So, let’s all celebrate the niche market, and someone like us doing well.

(And someone like me getting a fork.)

So, I just walked 500 miles…

badge imageYou’ll be happy to know I have now earned my Fitbit (brand fitness tracker)’s Serengeti badge. Yup. Have walked 500 miles. On the days when I both wore my fitbit, and remembered to charge it. I’m not sure I feel any healthier, but I do feel more justified in putting my feet up from time to time.

There’s something about keeping track of the things that I have done–possibly more in writing than in “exercising” that makes me produce more, and feel better about it. I keep a calendar with my progress–or at least whatever it is I’m working on–written down on it. You know. Right next to my vitamin pills and whatever I wound up eating for breakfast.

And I have moved–via the Writing Sprints Journal–into bullet journaling. Oh, hey, look. I’m actually ahead of schedule. I have a schedule. I have a plan for tomorrow. There’s something I need to do.

There’s also something to be said for the record. If you’d told me three months ago that I could walk 500 miles, I’d have laughed in your face.

Three months from now… among other things… I’d like to be querying my novel, and I’d like to be finishing up the first draft of whatever strikes me during NaNo.

That’s going to be some time juggling.

Look at That: Growth

It is October first, and I just passed the total number of views that this blog had last year.

It’s all the slow-and-steady thing. (Sometimes, not so steady.) I have been much more consistent (particularly in the early months) than I was, last year, and my daily average for the year is a little higher. I’m not sure what it is about summer–maybe the joy of not being tied to school–but the last few months have been a little lower.

The next three months are all cream on top, and they were pretty good months last year.

NaNoWriMo is coming up, and that gives me a whole forum of fresh people to talk to, and there’s the Halloween blog hop. (Two-ish weeks for those of us who are thinking of participating.)

So, back to the revision. Let me know what works for you in building your readership, or just what keeps you going!

There is something about settling in to write your revision that churns up all kinds of silt. As you can see, I’m making progress:

And that’s good progress. I’m a little ahead of schedule (according to my marvelous math) and headed toward a clearly-defined endgame.

However

You see that little smudge between 6 and 7?

Yup. That would be an addendum. It’s not a huge diversion, but I will be adding some material that just didn’t exist.

And you will note that the smudge is labeled #1.

I’m adding three or four chapters to the existing material. And that puts me into my “Warning: Word Count!” index cards, so there’d better not be too many more.

Then, eventually, I’ll do NaNoWriMo, so that I have a shiny new first draft to work on while I’m querying.