I’m Keeping it to Myself

Pray for me people, quite possibly I’ve angered the Facebook Gods. I know, I know, this is serious business. I mean Facebook, right?

Secret messages have been turning up in my inbox— friends who have updated their status, uploaded photos, invited me to “like” pages. It’s a conspiracy of sorts, a cleverly devised plan to lure me back. I’ve been ignoring them all, closing my eyes and shutting it all out. Delete…delete…delete… I’ve been sending these Facebook messages into oblivion.

These days, I’m taking a bit of a Facation— a little break from Facebook if you will— because I sometimes find it a bit intruding. Don’t get me wrong, I love Facebook (kind of) and keeping up with my family and friends, but it’s far too easy to pop on for what you think will be a few minutes but ends up being much more. When that nosy factor kicks in I sometimes can’t help myself!

I was going to mention in a status update my intention to take a bit of a break but kept putting it off. I thought I’d let others know that I’d probably still update my author page but  they shouldn’t use Facebook as a way to contact me if something needed a timely reply. I thought it would be the polite thing to do, but I didn’t get around to it and so I didn’t start my intended break. Hey, I can procrastinate with the best of them!  But sometimes procrastination gives us time to reflect, a time to rethink our intentions. And low and behold, a few days ago someone’s status update had to do with this very same subject. Cool, right? Hmmm, maybe not.

To paraphrase the status it was something along this line: If you’re going to take a break from Facebook just do it. Don’t bother announcing it because no one really cares.

Oops! For a second I thought they had read my mind! But no, it was just my social media insecurities getting the best of me. Needless to say I didn’t bother to mention my intended break. Yet I couldn’t help wondering if people really do feel this way or if this was just one person’s opinion. I have often read status updates, especially from other authors, letting us know they were taking a break but I didn’t find it upsetting in the least. I actually thought it was a smart idea, not only the break but letting others know.

One of my beefs about Facebook lately, has been the sponsored ads that keep coming up into my news feed from people and companies I’ve never heard of.  Also the fact that some people really show a lack of caring. I don’t particularly like to read negative status updates. But they’re there. Disgruntled people with gripes galore. While I do understand that people are sometimes frustrated by life, and the behaviour of others, I don’t feel as though Facebook is the right forum to discuss that frustration. However, it’s their prerogative. Luckily, I have no one on my friends list who are downright belligerent. I might be forced to eliminate them from my list if that were the case. And no one likes to be eliminated. Anyway, I’m planning to make myself scarce from FB for the next little while, not being dramatic or anything, but I’d really like to spend more time blogging. Oh yeah, and writing. I am a writer, right? Two books and about forty + short stories says I am so who am I to argue? At least not today. Maybe I’ll keep that argument for another day!

Do you take breaks from social media from time to time? Do you agree with my FB friend that you should keep your intended break to yourself and simply disappear? Do you think it’s a matter of courtesy to let your friends and followers know that you’re not simply ignoring them?

Let the Competition Begin!

“Fame is a vapor, popularity an accident, and riches take wings. Only one thing endures and that is character.”
~~Horace Greeley

These days it’s almost impossible not to compete on some level. Whether or not we consider ourselves competitive or not, the world seems bound and determined to rate us in one way or another. It’s like that in many areas in life and it certainly exists for the writers out there. Maybe we set ourselves up for this the moment we set foot into social media arena and yet……

While we might not openly admit to this competitiveness, I’m here to say it exists as sure as I’m sitting here writing this post. Granted, we might not necessarily compete against anyone in particular, sometimes the competition is self-induced, a means of striving for more and more. More what you might ask? More blog followers, more comments in our comment section, more likes on Facebook, more followers on Twitter…And the more, more, more continues until we start to lose the enjoyment these very same social media sites once provided us with.

I recently noticed a new option on my Facebook author page. This is kind of what prompted this post in the first place. Here’s what it says on my administration page:

“New! Pages to watch. Track the progress on any Pages you want to watch. You’ll see how many likes they get so you can keep up.”

This darn near knocked my socks off when I saw it. Really? Now they want us to try and “keep up” with the popularity of other pages? Kind of feels like we’re back in elementary school here. Now, I really shouldn’t knock Facebook. I do like it. It’s fun and allows me to keep up with what my friends and family are doing. There are plenty of benefits to it but, as with anything out there, it comes with a certain amount of criticism. And we do love to criticize in one way or another. I’m sure many of us could list our complaints if we wanted to be picky.

I’ll admit, it feels good to have that validation whenever we update a status or publish a blog post, but we also run the risk of becoming too involved, too needy, too wanting of other people’s opinions and comments, instead of allowing things to unfold naturally. What will be will be. There’s no fancy way of putting it so far as I’m concerned. I’m not ready to jump through hoops in order to gain popularity. Speaking of popularity, I just received a notification the other day stating that my Klout score just went up. Do I care? No. Should I? Maybe. Maybe not.

Seriously, I like my author page, but as for tracking the progress of other pages I’m just not interested in turning it into a competition. I feel as though I spend as much time on social media as I dare, maybe more than I should at times. If I don’t actually write then the author page seems a bit pointless. Not to mention I have people already asking when the next book is coming.

What are your thoughts on social media? Do you feel the competition in the air whenever you venture out there? Do you have a Facebook page or do you think they’re pointless?

When a New Baby Arrives

I can honestly say there’s nothing quite like bringing your new baby home. The feeling is as awesome at 52 as it was at 20.

A year ago in April, I made an announcement on my blog that I was expecting a bundle of joy at the age of 51.  After I shared the link to the blog post on Facebook, crazy things happened. Over six hundred people visited my blog via Facebook alone.  My blog was on fire! While that might happen on other blogs all the time, it was pretty exciting for me.

And now today, I’m ready to introduce my  baby to the world! Did I say baby? I meant babies! Yes, babies.

I held my babies close on the drive home from the post office today, held them on my lap so I could look down at them lovingly and coo. Seriously, I was a bit giddy, and I know Hubby was talking about something on the drive home. but I have no idea what. Ah well, he’ll never know just how distracted I was. Smiling and nodding can take you a long way so long as you don’t discovered later that you’ve agreed to something that you shouldn’t have. Just kidding! I’m still giddy.

I expect there will be plenty of restless nights in the future but, hey, how often does one bring home a baby like this!

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I Just Can’t Like You Anymore

Lately, I’ve been having a lot of problems liking people, which is new for me since I generally get along well with others. Here’s the scoop. I’ll start with Facebook. I love Facebook, don’t get me wrong, but this past while I’ve noticed, I no sooner “like” something then I notice that “like” has been taken away, disappeared into the great wide world of the Internet. Zappo! Poof! I don’t think it’s just me and my slow connection since others seem to agree with, but not everyone. Some say it hasn’t been a problem for them. And it’s not just the likeability thing. I’m sometimes told I can’t comment or else the comment I make disappears too. Well, okay, I’ll accept that, but when I want to comment on my own status it’s a bit annoying to be told I’m not allowed to.

Is it fair to knock these free services? I’m not sure. Do we have a right to certain expectations? I kind of think so since the whole idea is for us to interact with one another. Free or not, it’s difficult not to find yourself grumbling a time or two when these things mess up so frequently.

Since were on the subject of likes:

Now onto WordPress. I love the “like “ button we now have, because let’s face it sometimes we just don’t have time to think up a comment or sometimes we just have nothing to add, but still want to say, “Hey, I liked your post!” It’s a support thing and it’s great. However, most of the time my “like” button won’t load. This, I’m fairly sure is because of my connection and not a whole lot I can do about it. Every now and then I’m surprised when everything loads properly. So, it’s not that I don’t “like” you all anymore. Really it’s not you…it’s me.

The last of the proofreading for my book was done over the long weekend. I swear no matter how many times something is proofread, by yourself and others, those nasty little typos are bound to appear from out of nowhere. It’s seems inevitable. Yet we all hope. My editor says it’s impossible to catch them all. It’s soon off to the printers! I’ve been in touch with the Publicist from Nimbus and we’ve discussed launch dates although at this point it’s a bit tricky since there’s always the chance that things will get tied up at the printers. Can’t have a launch if the books have been delayed, right? For now, I have a tentative date since I needed to book the community centre ahead of time. No official announcement yet.  It’s all moving straight ahead.

Today Miss Charlotte comes to visit and we’re pretty excited. She hasn’t been down since Christmas. Hopefully, she’ll find lots to do and the weather will be great.

So, that’s my bit of news for the week. What are you all up to this week? Are any of you are having a problem “liking” people?

Rug Hooker Extraordinaire

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The lampshades below were also hooked by Syr!

I’m always amazed at those people who have more than one exceptional talent. Maybe that’s because I don’t venture very far from writing myself, and I forget that many others do. While I’ve known author, Syr Ruus (Love Songs of Emmanuel Taggart) for several years now, I’ve only recently discovered her talent for rug hooking. Imagine my delight when I discovered that she was having a show of her hooked rugs!

Yesterday, we drove to Petite Reviere to attend Syr’s opening at the River House Gallery. We were totally amazed by Syr’s work. Here are a few snaps I took to share with my blog readers.

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Syr’s work will be on display at the River House Gallery during the month of April. If you get a chance , I suggest you drop in and take a look at the work from this local artist. There are many more rugs on display for your enjoyment. There are also copies of her book, “Love Songs of Emmanuel Taggart” for sale at the gallery if you’re interested in supporting a local author. You can check out Syr’s Facebook page as well to learn more about this talented writer/rug hooker.

Syr Ruus, Author

DSC03498  Congratulations, Syr, on the success of your rug hooking exhibition. We had a lovely time!

World Book Day

It’s World Book Day. Bet you didn’t know that.

My source tells me that March 7th is World Book Day. (That source being Facebook of course.)

I popped on over to the site only to see Bitter Sweet as one of the books listed. Um, wrong Bitter, Sweet, however. This one has no comma and was written by Cathy Cassidy. Still, kind of a cool coincidence, don’t you think?

In honour of this day why not give a shout-out to a book you think is great, either one you’ve read, one you’ve written or one you hope to write?

Who Are You Sleeping With?

DSC03197I posted this pic on Facebook some weeks ago. It’s actually a plaque I got for Christmas this year and thought it was kind of neat. But the truth comes out when I say I can’t remember ever taking a book to bed with me. While, I sometimes stay up late to read I don’t do it from beneath the covers. Not even once!

I know a lot of people read in bed almost every night. It’s part of their bedtime ritual. After a long day it’s a great way for them to unwind as they curl up in bed with one of their favourite authors. For some, it’s the only quiet time in the day when they can enter an imaginary world and become a part of it. And we all know how important it is to lose ourselves into the world of imagination, right?

These days I tend to read while using the treadmill. In fact, some days it’s the only time I find to read.(Ah the busy, busy life of an author!) Let’s face it, a treadmill can be pretty darn boring, aimlessly walking until you work up a sweat with no true destination in mind, not even a change in scenery. So, I decided to combine the two. I thought, why not?  I’ve got such a list of books waiting for me I try to cram in reading time anywhere I can.

I’m also one of those lucky people who can read while driving in a car and not lose their lunch in the process. FYI, I’m not the one doing the driving. (Wouldn’t want to scare any of you readers out there. ) Living 45 minutes out of town does sometimes have its advantages, and on shopping day I can squeeze in some reading as well. I’m also known to take reading material with me to work, and read on breaks or at lunch time. Hey, who says you can’t find time to read?

Reading is important to writers. It’s not an option, it’s a must. I know many people don’t get that, and that’s alright. I’ve been accused by some of  “always” reading or writing, like it’s a bad thing. But the truth is, if you’re serious about being a writer, you’ve also got to read. Writers are often inspired by reading the words of others. I can’t begin to say how many times a particular book has inspired me with my own writing even if that book doesn’t resemble what I’m writing at all. It’s kind of a strange and wonderfully weird thing that happens to many writers when we read a book we really love. It makes us want to rush out and write our own story. We are sometimes struck by a moment of clarity that brings everything into focus for us, and we have other writers to thank for that.

Okay, so I got a little side-tracked from my original post. I was talking about reading in bed, which I mentioned I don’t do. But how many of you read in bed— once in awhile, never, or almost always?

The Voice

There are times when I feel as though my blogging voice is gone, and lately this has been the case. I can tell you this doesn’t feel like a permanent condition, and I’m not planning to go anywhere soon. It just means I might find it more difficult to blog on a regular basis. Truthfully, I sometimes wonder what difference blogging makes to my writing life except to take time away from writing fiction. But no sooner do I have that thought then I remind myself of all those faithful readers out there who come by to visit, and the other bloggers I’ve come to know. Blogging shouldn’t be about accumulating a huge number of followers and racking up hundreds of comments, but engaging with those readers we do have. What that means is you’re all important to me and I appreciate your visits.

While I’m on this subject, I might just as well mention that, along with my reluctance for blogging, the same has been true for Facebook. I pop on by times, mostly to see any updated photos of Miss Charlotte, but when it comes to updating my status, I find I rarely have anything I want to say. I do try to update my page more often, but days sometimes go by before I feel the urge to post something there. Does it sound as though I’m whining? I sure hope not. As a 96 year old Grace once said, “I”m just stating facts.”  BTW Grace is an amazing woman who shared a room with my mother-in-law at the nursing home.

Don’t worry though, all this doesn’t mean I’m not writing, in fact just the opposite is true. I’ve been busy every day working on my next novel, and as any of you writers know, it can be an all-consuming task. Did I say task? Well, not so true. Writing isn’t and shouldn’t be a task. Expressing our creativity should be a must for all of us.

Sometimes our writing lives seep into our everyday lives, and people start to wonder just what the heck is wrong. That faraway look we have might not be one of indifference, but our minds busy creating those imaginary worlds that feel all too true. For a writer, our characters are real people who exist in a parallel universe. If we didn’t feel this way about them we couldn’t possibly make them come alive on the page.

Hopefully, once I have the first draft of my novel completed my blogging voice will return, and just so you know that first draft feels quite close to being done.  Believe me, I’ll be doing a happy dance at that point.

 Do you ever feel as though you’ve lost your blogging voice? Do you have times throughout the year when you devote less time to blogging?

Candlemas Day

If Candlemas Day be fair and bright
Winter will have another fight.
If Candlemas Day brings cloud and rain,
Winter won’t come again.

Candlemas DayOn Facebook this morning people are talking about Groundhog Day. It’s also being talked about on the radio. Bright and early this morning we were being told that we were due for six more weeks of winter, but growing up we always went by what the weather was like at noon on this day. Somehow things get changed along the way without any of us knowing how or why. Who knows, maybe that was just a regional thing?

But Groundhog Day isn’t the only happening thing going on today. The 2nd of February is also known as Candlemas Day an ancient festival that marked the midpoint of winter.  Yay! We’re half-way there. Isn’t that enough to make you shout for joy? Already, you can see a big difference in the amount of daylight hours we have and I find it exciting. I love the way the longer days are becoming more noticeable. It makes me feel happy and hopeful in a way that I don’t feel any other time of the year.

From what I read Candlemas Day was originally a pagan festival called Imbolc which was called the Festival of Lights and focused on lighting fires. The lighting of fires celebrated the increasing power of the sun over the coming months, and we’re certainly feeling that!

So how did The Festival of Lights become known as Candlemas?

The church turned this pagan festival into Candlemas Day. It was the day when all the candles, that were to be used in the church during the year, were blessed. They were then distributed around and a lighted candle was placed in the window of each home. Sounds kind of nice actually. Of course, back in the day, candles were important, not only for shedding light, but people thought they gave protection against nasty things like the plague and famine. Nothing like a famine or plague to take the fun out of winter I like to say.

So while I did know this day meant we were half way through winter I didn’t know exactly why it was called Candlemas Day. Thank goodness Google can answer all our questions.

While this is totally unrelated to Candlemas or even Groundhog day, I do want to mention that there’s still time to enter a contest over at Lynn Davidson’s blog for a chance to win a copy of Steve Vernon’s YA novel, Sinking Deeper OR My awesome brilliant Questionable Heroic Decision to Invent a Sea Monster. I’ve already read the book and enjoyed it a lot!  Here’s the link if you’d like to enter.

So what am I planning this Candlemas Day? Well, I’m not building any bonfires I can tell you that right away, but I may just light a candle tonight to welcome in the second half of winter. I’m also going to enjoy this sunny day and feel glad that we’re half-way through winter.

Happy Candlemas Day! Do you have any special plans for today?

Tweetless in Dalhousie

When it comes to twitter I’ve yet to understand what all the fuss is about. That could have something to do with the fact that I haven’t tweeted in months or my oh-so-slow dial-up connection that I’m helpless to do anything about. (No pity please it’s just one of the fallbacks from living in rural Nova Scotia)Tying up your phone line while you tweet your little heart out is annoying to those who actually want to speak to you in person. Just ask my kids. Not to mention you spend ridiculous amounts of time waiting for these sites to load.

Let me be honest: maybe I don’t understand what’s so fabulously great about twitter because I’m the lamest tweeter on the planet. Oh, yeah, I’ve thought about that a time or two.

But wait, I can’t be THAT bad. Twitter’s been trying to reel me back in for months now with little messages that arrive in my inbox. @_____________just retweeted @____________. I also get lists of people who are simply tweeting. So thanks, twitter, for pointing out the obvious. You’re twitter. People tweet. I get that. It’s how it was meant to be. Not to be mean twitter, but I’m not really interested in missed tweets—not to be confused by those who are mistweeted because mistweeting others is definitely NOT cool. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist!)

On the other side of the coin, with the little bit I’ve been on twitter in the past, I’ve actually met some pretty cool people. Some of them have gone on to become facebook friends. Imagine the potential if I was tweeting on a regular basis! I know people who absolutely LOVE twitter. When they’re home they stayed signed in all the time. The moment something happens they’re letting the rest of the world know.

I sometimes think I spent too much time in the world of make-believe. I’ve committed to spend more time writing this year in an attempt to increase my productivity. Right now that seems to be where I need to put my time. Some people seem able to do it all–tweet, blog, facebook all while churning out spectacular novels. Sometimes I wish I was one of those people, but I’m not. I’d have to stay up around the clock in order to keep up. There are SO many online sites these days, I’m simply not able to keep up with them all. But I’m not going to lose any sleep over it. That just wouldn’t make sense.

I’ve got to be honest though; those little reminders from twitter might actually be working. I’ve been thinking of logging in just to see what’s up. That doesn’t mean I’ll sacrifice my writing time. Maybe it’s a matter of finding the right balance if in fact that “right balance” even exists, but for right now you can be sure I’m still tweetless in Dalhousie.

Are you regularly on twitter? If you’re a writer do you find it a struggle to find the right balance between social media sites and writing? Or like me, are you tweetless for the time being?

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