Writing has dominated my posts lately (which is ironic considering I’ve barely written a word this year) but I’ve been busy doing other stuff, too. First, I have a new blog header! Y’all on readers, come take a peek. I hated the previous one because I flipped the picture and I could never get used to looking at my backwards self, but I’m very happy with this version.
I recently bought a new camera and it takes amazing photos and videos. While trying to download a couple movies of Owen, I ended up loading them into iMovie and making my very first movie. Ready for the fun?
Also, that’s my new place!
Finally, I have written a little bit. Here’s the opening line of what I’m hoping will work it’s way into the sequel for Flicker:
Before last month I never gave much thought to my school’s no-hats-allowed policy, but all that changed when Ramirez shaved my head.
What have you been up to?
In early spring of 2009, my friend Stacey Graham mentioned an idea she had for a new humor blog. Our group of friends continuously amused each other, so why not spread that joy throughout the internet via essays written in the spirit of Erma Bombeck?
Thus was born An Army of Ermas.
Our ranks have grown, and some early contributors have faded into the background (including yours truly) while others have truly blossomed, turning An Army of Ermas into something I don’t think any of us expected. Erma’s regularly gets thousands of hits per post, and the site was recognized by the Erma Bombeck Writing Workshop as Humor Blog of the Month after only two months in existence. Behind all of it is Stacey, cracking her whip to keep the writers in line and the readers entertained.
To honor and thank Stacey, we have declared today An Army of Ermas Day. I would yodel but I don’t want to waste my quota of vowels for the day.
I’ve only written a handful of articles for Ermas so the site’s popularity has had little to do with me, but it HAS affected me. Watching Stacey take an over-caffeinated idea bubble and turn it into a popular humor site (all while raising five girls, getting an agent, selling a book, running spy camp, and wrangling zombies) has been an inspiration. Anytime I feel like an idea is silly or unattainable, I make myself stop and ask “why not?” Stacey’s determination and exuberance for every project she tackles has given me the hope that I might be able to do the same.
Stacey, thank you.
More friends celebrating An Army of Erma Day:
Terri Lynn Coop
Sara Spock Carlson
Hi, I’m Melanie, a person with normal problems like everyone else. Things piss me off, drive me batty, and infuriate me so badly I find myself looking for the closest idiot to punch (I don’t actually punch people). When I need to vent I call or text a friend to get it off my chest, then I move on. I do NOT post it online for everyone to see.
I’ve talked before about my astonishment at what people post without thinking. Besides the fact that whatever you type in a moment of rage is there forever—we’re all aware of that—I wonder if these people realize that it also affects your relationships and the way people view you. I try to say something encouraging if it seems like a friend is upset, but if all you every do is complain, I tune you out pretty quickly.
But I’m not here to gripe. Today I’m going to show you how I turn crappy (this is subjective) things that happen to me, spin it in the writer-brain, and turn it into something that I hope is a little more entertaining.
What I said:
“I’m a girl. This is how I deal with problems.” (accompanied with this photo)
What I could have said (that actually happened):
A hornet invaded my air-tight living room and possibly stung my puppy.
What I said:
“We’ve arrived! Ranger Rick was very excited to see us.”
What I could have said:
When we arrived at our vacation destination, the security guards stopped us several times and made us drive to different offices before finally allowing us into the complex. The only benefit is one of them was hot.
What I said:
What i could have said:
This storm is so bad we had to pull over in a rest stop and wait ten minutes before sprinting inside for breakfast. Then they didn’t have any power so we had to drive to another place THROUGH MORE RAIN before finally finding a place where we could eat. Not to mention my passenger had never experienced a Midwest storm before and was a little concerned we’d be swept up in a tornado.
What I said:
“Waiting for Turkey!”
What I could have said:
I couldn’t fall asleep last night and had to drag myself out of bed after less than five hours of sleep to go pick my friend up at the airport. Give me coffee…
What I said:
“TGIF has never been so true.”
What I could have said:
Some things are still better left unsaid.
Hi there. I thought I’d use today’s post to catch you all up on what’s been going on with me. Ready? Okay!
I LOVE my apartment. Love. The paint, the layout, the trees outside my balcony… it’s all wonderful. Owen’s adapted well and I’ve made several friends through him and the dog park. The roads leading to the apartment complex are all very winding which is AWESOME in my quest to be a racecar driver. Let’s just not think about what those roads will be like in the winter.
I’ve framed my own photos to hang on the walls, and Monday night I picked up three prints I had enlarged. As soon as I hang them up I’ll share pictures.
Last week my cable went out during some crazy storms and I discovered my one-month old cable box (or “receiver” as the man on the phone kept calling it) was dead. As were the 30 movies I’d taped. But never fear! I ended up with six months of free movie channels as a consolation. Hooray U-verse!
I’m thisclose to writing again. I tried back around Easter, but with everything else going on in my life I found it hard to concentrate on a new idea. I’m getting together with more writing friends very very soon, so I had BETTER write then!
Since more of my posts here have focused on writing, I’ve started an account on Tumblr to focus on the silliness. Go check it out!
I’m still figuring out Tumblr, but I like the simplicity of it. Plus I’ve wanted a platform just for photos, and while you can do much more there, that’s what I’ll primarily use it for.
And that’s about it. What’s new with you?
I research social media tools as part of my day job, and my latest task has been to find the best social monitoring and listening applications. One site that’s come up again and again is klout.com.
From the website:
The Klout Score is the measurement of your overall online influence. The scores range from 1-100 with higher scores representing a wider and stronger sphere of influence.
The Klout Score is a factor of over 35 variables broken into three categories; True Reach, Amplification Score and Network Score.
True Reach is the size of your engaged audience and is based on the followers and friends who actively listen and react to your messages. Amplification Score is the likelihood that your messages will generate actions (retweets, @messages, likes and comments) and is on a scale of 1 to 100. Network score indicates how influential your engaged audience is, also on a scale of 1 to 100. The Klout score is highly correlated to clicks, comments and retweets.
Do you realize what this means? I finally have validation for all my hard “work” online! When I first checked at the beginning of last week I had a score of 40. Then I realized you can link your Facebook account as well. That, my friends, is where my power lies. Bwahahahaha! The first day they synced my score jumped to 46, and as of last night I’m at 50.
I feel powerful ‘n stuff.
The best part is you can type in ANYONE’S twitter handle and see their score. It’s free to join and once you do you can see all kinds of analytics.
What are you waiting for? Go check it out and post your score in the comments.
I’ve finally started reading on my new Kindle and the verdict is: it rocks.
I assumed I’d adapt easily enough—I read on the computer all day long and the Kindle’s e-ink is designed to be even easier on the eyes—plus it’s so light you forget you’re holding a book. But the best part, and the one I hadn’t thought about, is how easy it is to read in bed.
I do the majority of my reading before I go to sleep and usually roll from one side to the other as I turn the pages. Or I stay on one side and get a hand cramp. On the Kindle, the page turn buttons on either side of the device mean you can turn the page with a slight pressure from your thumb—no flipping necessary! I laid comfortably on one side for HOURS (thanks Suzanne Collins). Win!
There are a few books that I still plan to get in physical form (Grammar Girl’s Quick & Dirty Tips, to name one) but this transition will be a lot smoother—and quicker—than I expected.
Do you have a Kindle? What’s your favorite thing about it?
And if you don’t want one, what’s your reason?
As Juliet said, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet.” Yet we writers place a lot of importance on names. Hours of research can go into finding the name that perfectly captures the time period, ethnicity, class, religion… you get the idea. The general public probably has no idea the work that can go into deciding between, say for example, Luz and Biz.
In my situation, I chose Luz because light is the catalyst for everything in my story, and luz means light in Spanish. I had intended for my character’s parents to have a connection to Mexico, but as the story progressed, it felt tacked on. I dropped that aspect, and suddenly the name no longer made sense. I polled facebook for another unique name and ended up stealing my seventeen-year old niece’s best friend’s name. (What, I write YA. I can talk like that.) (Hi Biz!) I still catch myself referring to my MC as Luz, but I figure that should go away once I start writing book two.
In the meantime, there’ve been a couple new additions in Hooville that have required names. One I’ve come up with, but I need your help with the other. First, meet Willow:
Owen’s keeping her company. Next, meet my newest love, my unnamed Macbook Pro.
I’d like a name that means the source of creativity, or the holder of all the goods, or lifeblood. You know, something simple. Any suggestions?
I have my new Macbook! I went to the store Friday night fully expecting to have to wait another week before getting my baby, but they had what I wanted in stock!
As you can imagine I spent the weekend installing software, transferring data, and figuring out how to carry such a honking laptop around. One good thing about the HP Mini is it’s teeny tiny and can be carried around with one hand. But I LOVE it so.
I’ve switched from Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, and Excel to iWorks Pages, Keynote, and Numbers, and the coolest feature I’ve discovered so far is the full view screen in Pages. Look at how I’m going to be writing:
How awesome is that? No distractions! And I love the dark background.
Oh yeah, it’s also wicked fast and I got a free HP printer for my trouble.
How was YOUR weekend?
My beloved Mac, who’s stood by my side for almost seven years, will be put to rest in the next few days.
Starting with that first journey from the Apple Store on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue, to a four-day trip across the US and Mexico buried beneath a pile of boxes and clothes so no one would notice, to a return flight packed in styrofoam, it’s been a wonderful ride. We’ve been through many mice, two keyboards, and two separate scares where I thought I’d have to write this post much sooner.
Today after work I will embark on a new journey, one that begins in another Apple Store. I don’t expect they’ll have my new baby in stock, but I’ll share photos of my new LAPTOP as soon as I can.
Have a wonderful weekend!
Saturday morning I rolled out of bed, fired up the laptop, and edited the last 27 pages of my manuscript. My friends on Facebook congratulated me, I danced a little jig, then I went through the document to check that my chapter numbers were in order.
And that, apparently, was the straw that broke the PC’s back.
About 100 pages in I got an error that my firewall wasn’t on so I did what I always do and click to turn it on. (I get this a lot. I check, it’s always on.) Then I tried to save.
Another fun game my PC likes to play is after about half an hour it no longer allows me to save. My solution is I add the date to the end of the file, then toggle between the master file and that version while I continue to work. This, in theory, gives me two current versions. (I’ve learned over the weekend that this is not a ‘normal’ PC thing. As a Mac person, I just assumed this was just another joy of Windows.)
So on Saturday I tried saving the document with a different name, but that didn’t work either. And that’s when I noticed that the file with that day’s date was gone. Vanished. Poof.
As was the master file.
I tried saving it to the previous day’s version and in an instant that file disappeared as well. I continued to get warnings from my anti-virus software, and it kept insisting my files were corrupt and I had to restart. Not knowing what else to do, I restarted.
While it restarted I rushed to my desktop computer, which is linked to the same backup system, and the files had already been deleted from there as well.
Three days of work — 80 pages — were gone.
Thankfully my genius writing friends (I believe it was Adam) pointed out that Dropbox has a Restore feature that rescues deleted files. And he was right. I was able to recover all the deleted files and ended up losing 17 pages of work instead of 80. Since I’d JUST made those changes they were still fresh in my mind and I was able to redo them in half an hour.
Before I had Dropbox I emailed myself a copy of my manuscript at the end of every writing or editing session, but I’ve fallen out of that habit. Had I done that Friday night I would have had an unaffected version safe in my email.
The moral of the story: BACKUP!
Do you have a computer-related horror story you’d like to share?
(and if you sign up for Dropbox via the above link I get bonus storage space!)