It Didn’t Used to Be This Way!

Today’s post should really be titled “Rachel’s Rant!”  This one is about annoying commercials, so it really doesn’t have anything to do with writing, except that writers are actually paid money to write the scripts for this garbage; plus, I keep my television on with the volume down low when I write so that I have some background noise.  But I have to say, I’m ready to turn it off.

I know I’m going to sound like an old lady, but I’m willing to risk it when I say…  Back when I was growing up, they didn’t have all these stupid and grotesque commercials on television like they do now,… yet products still managed to sell.  I’m not opposed to change and progression when it is for the better, but in some cases, the old adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” definitely applies.

I am beyond sick of the Charmin toilet paper commercials whose main selling point is that it “keeps your underpants clean!”  That is just nasty!  Do we really have an epidemic of people walking around who don’t know how to wipe their own hiney properly?  I mean, think about it.  Don’t you wonder if the ad execs from Charmin just thought this would be a great idea for no reason, or was their consumer care line actually getting an influx of calls from angry customers who wanted reimbursement for their soiled underpants because their toilet paper didn’t do its job?

Back when I was growing up, Charmin sold by using a funny old man named Mr. Whipple that owned a store and stood by his toilet paper display warning customers, “Don’t squeeze the Charmin!”  Inevitably a female shopper would always deceive him into looking the other way while she hugged a package of the oh-so-soft toilet paper.  And guess what?  People bought it!  We know what to use toilet paper for as well as how to use it properly!  If we don’t, then perhaps rather than forcing us to watch commercials about skidmarked undies, we need to take more time away from the iPad and hang up the cellphone long enough to teach our youth what needs to be done in the bathroom!

Okay, how about the Clorox bleach commercial where the kid excitedly tells his mother, “Mommy, I made poo poo!”  Then the mom looks in the toilet and realizes that her kid actually took a crap in the bathtub!  GROSS!  Who really does that?  And seriously, if your child does have an accident (not an “on-purpose!”) in the tub, are you going to go look at the bleach in your laundry room and when you realize that your hubby picked up a generic brand, you’ll refuse to then use it until you can get to the store for some actual Clorox?

Again, back when I was a kid, Clorox was advertised by a man offering money to a woman at the Laundromat if she’d give him her husband’s shirt.  He tore the shirt in half and washed one half with Clorox and detergent and the other half in detergent alone.  She saw how much whiter the bleached shirt was, and from that point on, voila!  She started using their product.  (Perhaps Clorox should team up with Charmin to make darn sure those underpants get clean!)

As if the Clorox poo poo boy wasn’t bad enough, how about their other ad where the potty training child is so proud of using the bathroom, that he runs down the hall carrying the full potty chair with him, splashing urine all over the floor as he goes. Seriously, Clorox?  What I really want to know with both these ads is WHERE WAS THE MOTHER WHEN THESE KIDS DID THIS?  I mean, honestly, if you have a toddler who’s still so young that they haven’t even mastered potty training yet, are you really leaving them unsupervised so long that they can get into that kind of mischief?

How about the stupid air freshener ads?  In their infinite wisdom, the ad executives at Febreeze think we are a nation of blithering idiots!  They fill a room (or a car) with garbage, animal dung, rotten food, etc., then they spray Febreeze before they blindfold someone, then stick them in that room and ask them to identify the smell.  Inevitably, the blindfolded person always says, “Um, it’s a field of daisies,” or, “It’s fresh like the first day of spring.”  Then they remove their blindfold and are genuinely astounded at the amount of filth surrounding them.  Seriously?  Are we stupid enough to fall for this?

When I was a kid, air freshener ads were cute.  A popular air and carpet freshener then was Airwick.  The commercial started by an announcer saying, “Airwick presents some smelly reasons why you need a rug and room deodorizer.  Then we see a wet dog while the announcer says, “Rover… who’s all over.”  Cut to a baby in a diaper, and he says, “Little Annie’s fanny.”  Cut to someone cooking fish and onions, and he says, “The fish that comes to dinner… and stays.”  Cut to grandpa smoking a smelly cigar, and he says, “The old fogie’s stogie.”  Then he shows us a basement that’s musty from the rain outside, then we see how the carpet freshener made the house smell great just moments before the mother-in-law with the sensitive nose shows up.

Honestly, I could rant for another twenty-seven pages about how commercials have taken a turn for the worse, but I have other things planned for my day, and I’m sure you do, too.  But I’ll tell you now, with all the things I might do today, buying Charmin, Clorox, or Febreeze is now not one of them!

Update!

Happy Sunday, Friends!  I’m happy to report that I’ve just finished my first draft of the novel I started last month, The Foreboding.  Right now it only clocks in at around 75,000 words, but as I start editing, I expect to raise that by at least 10,000.  The quick description is as follows:

Rylie and Denise have been rivals since the first day they met.  Though Denise comes from an affluent home and has never lacked for anything of monetary value, Rylie has the one thing Denise will never get – attention.  As the girls get ready to enter college, Denise concocts a plan to make sure Rylie will never stand in her way again; but as they proceed into adulthood, she looks back and wonders if it was enough in this psychologically thrilling tale of Mean Girls meets Premonition.

Have a great weekend!

Author Interview – Cassidy Frazee

A while back when I posted a Call to Writers, asking my fellow author bloggers to allow me to interview them, I was elated with the responses I received.  (And if you would like to participate, please feel free to contact me.)  I asked thirty-five questions and gave the interviewee the freedom to answer only what they wanted. My friend and fellow-blogger, Cassidy Frazee, had some very interesting responses which I’m sure you will find as fascinating as I did.  When you’re done reading the interview, please hop on over to Cassidy’s blog and make sure you follow her for more entertaining tales.  And now, I pass the torch to Cassidy…

 *.*.*

ABOUT YOU::

1. Please tell us your name (or pen name) and a little bit about yourself:

Cassidy Frazee.  I’m originally from Northwest Indiana, where I’ve lived most of my life, but at the moment I’m working as an independent contractor in another state.  I’ve been writing off and on most of my life, but it’s only been since late 2010 that I finally overcame most of my personal issues and returned to writing every day, and with the intention of being published.

2. Please provide the link to your blog (and website, Facebook fan page, Twitter, etc.):

My blog is Wide Awake and Dreaming (http:www.//wideawakebutdreaming.wordpress.com/) and I am found on Twitter as @CGFrazee (https://twitter.com/CGFrazee/).  You may also find information on my work at my author’s page on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Cassidy-Frazee/290684390958750).  I blog every day, which some people find a little strange, but it helps me keep writing.

3 .How many books have you written?

That’s a good question, and I actually had to check because I couldn’t remember.  I’ve a huge slush pile of work I’ve completed since 2011.  As of this moment—15 March, 2014—I’ve written seven novels, three novellas, two novelette, and two short stories.  I’m currently working on another novel as we speak, something that I started right before NaNoWriMo 2013.

4. Has any of your work been published yet?  If so, please share the link(s) to purchase it:

I’ve published three works.  You may find the links on my author’s page, which will take you to Amazon (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Cassidy-Frazee/290684390958750?id=290684390958750&sk=app_191387770912394).  It’s my intention to send out a few things this year and see if I can sell my work.

5. If you have been published, did you self-publish or use traditional publishing?  Why?  If you have not been published yet, what are your plans for the future?

Two of my works, Kuntilanak and Her Demonic Majesty, were self-published.  I’ll admit right now, I’m not happy with doing this; both works were released with errors, and I was extremely upset with myself for releasing flawed work.  I’ve taken steps to correct them, and I’ll likely perform something of a rewrite on Her Demonic Majesty this summer, so don’t buy it now—wait a while!  I know, not many writers tell people not to buy their work, but I’d rather it be right.

The third, Command and Control—which is an erotica story, which deviates from what I normally write—was sold to a small house, Naughty Nights Press.  I actually wrote it for a friend, who wanted to see what sort of erotica I could create if I keep things “normal” and didn’t delve into too much fantasy.  After they read it they suggested I try and sell it, and that’s what happened.

6. How old were you when you started writing?  When did you know you wanted to be an author?

I was a teenager when I started writing; I think my first attempt at writing a story happened when I was sixteen.  I couldn’t keep at it, however.  I know this seems cliched, but I had a lot of issues, mostly mental, when I was that age, and it seemed like every time I’d start back into writing, my mind became my own worst enemy, and I’d give up and fall into despair and depression.

It wasn’t until after I took a created writing class in 2010 that I was finally encouraged by several friends to keep writing, because I didn’t suck and they believed I had something to say.  Since then I’ve kept at my writing, because I do believe in myself these days, and I believe I have interesting stories to tell.

7. What would you say motivates you to keep writing?

A desire to tell stories, and a need to succeed as a writer.  It’s something I’ve wanted all my life, and given my age I’d like to find some modicum of success before I leave this mortal coil behind.  I don’t expect to be the Next Big Thing, but I’d find it nice to know I had fans interested in reading my next novel.

8. Who are some of your favorite authors?  What are you currently reading (or what is the last book you read)?

I was exposed to science fiction at an early age, and the first adult stories I read—at the age of seven—were Earthlight and A Fall of Moondust, by Arthur C. Clarke.  Clarke has always been a favorite of mine; the same with Ray Bradbury, Issac Asimov, Kim Stanley Robinson, and Stephen Baxter.  I’m also a great fan of Stephen King, Joseph Wambaugh, and Clive Cussler, though I admit I don’t read either as much as before.

The last book I read was The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, and the next one I’ll read is Divergent by Veronica Roth.  I’m a member of the HodgePodge Book Club, an informal group of friend on Facebook who get together every month, pick a novel, and read it with the intention of discussing the story and the themes found within.  It’s actually a lot of fun to see how other interpret the same story you’ve read; it also makes you wonder after reading some of the impression that others have, if you even read the same book.  *laughs*

I also have NOS4A2 by Joe Hill on my list of “to read soon.”

9. What is your preferred reading method?  (i.e., Kindle, Nook, paperback, hardback, etc.)  Why?

I own one of the first Sony ebooks, though I don’t use it as much these days.  I still read the “old fashion way,” but ebooks are great if you want to go somewhere and don’t feel like hauling around a bunch of books.  A Kindle would have been a great thing to have in the late 1990’s when I used to travel to Hong Kong on business.

10. Do you write in first or third person, past or present tense, and why?

I’ve written in both, though I tend to write mostly in third person omnipotent.  I also keep things in present tense, but falling into past tense happens when the characters are back on something that happened to them.

I’ll write in first person if I feel the character is speaking directly to someone.  I did that with my novel Transporting:  while most of it is written in third person, there are “diary chapters” where one of the main characters is recording their recollection of events, and it’s written in first person because the character is actually recording their thoughts.  That’s the only thing I’ve written that way, and I have only one other story written in first person.

11. Do you “always read” or do you take breaks between reading books? 

I usually take breaks these days because I’m so busy with my writing.  When I was younger I was always reading, and with this book club I’m in I’m starting to get back into the habit of reading on a regular basis again.

12. How many books would you say you read in a year?  How many at any one time?

I only read one book at a time; I read between a dozen and eighteen books a year.

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 ABOUT YOUR CURRENT BOOK::

13. What is the title of your current work in progress of the most recent manuscript you’ve completed?

My current work in progress and my most recently completed manuscript are actually connected.  My current WiP is titled The Foundation Chronicles: A For Advanced, which was started during the last few days of October, 2013.  It’s a huge novel, and I expect it to take most of 2014 to complete.

My last completed manuscript was The Foundation Chronicles:  The Scouring, which I wrote for the July Camp NaNo 2013, and was something of a warm-up before getting into my current project.  This manuscript ended up running fifty-three thousand words; A For Advanced is completed through Act One, and runs double the word count of The Scouring, with two acts remaining.  Like I said, it’s a big project.

14. What is your novel’s genre?  Would you say there is a sub-genre?  What makes yours different than other books in the same genre?

I would say it’s fantasy with a bit of science fiction thrown in for good measure.  It shows a world that hides in plain sight with our modern world, which is to say you have magic, powers, and super science existing in the year 2011.  Since the two main characters start out as eleven year old kids, some might say it’s young adult, but it’s not—at least I don’t feel it’s YA.  What make my story different from others in the genre?  Why, because it’s mine.  *laughing*  The story is really character driven, but one could say that about a lot of stories, can’t they?

15. What inspired the current or most recent story you’ve completed?

The story really began as a role playing exercise that a friend and I did over the middle part of 2011—ergo why the novel begins in 2011.  The role playing ended because of things happening in real life, but the friend who started it with me said on more than a few occasions that I needed to tell the story of these characters, because theirs is a compelling story.  So finally, after all this time, I’ve begun to do just that.

16. What is your target audience’s age, gender, etc.?

At the moment I think the target audience is just about anyone.  It’s not just for teenagers:  in fact, there are things in the story that will come across as a bit horrifying, because my world isn’t always a nice one.  I hope that should this story end up published it’ll find an audience with everyone.  And I’m very gender neutral, though one will quickly discovered that the Salem Institute of Greater Education and Learning—the location of my story—is very much a world where the ladies pretty much run things, and the boys learn to adjust to that reality.

17. Do you want to tell us a little bit about your story?

The basis of the story is that there are two different worlds:  that which is known, and the part that’s unknown.  Over the centuries various organizations have investigated the unknown, and began to realize that there were some things that, for want of a better term, the majority of mankind wasn’t ready to know.  So, these very organizations have worked hard to keep magic, powers, and super science out of the hands of “Normals,” with the intention of filtering these gifts to the rest of the world over time.

The Foundation is the current incarnation of these old organizations, formed out of a Victorian-era group of scientist who began working with witches to push the boundaries of what was “real.”  By the late-1800’s they became the caretakers of keeping the world safe from advanced knowledge that they know could destroy humanity if it were left unchecked.  It’s a hard job, but someone has to do it.  And they do this by hiding in plain sight, pretending to be a philanthropist organization—one that offers free education to those children they see as “special.”

The story centers upon two children from different groups:  one from a Normal family that has no idea the world isn’t what it seems, and another from a family that has lived with The Foundation’s world view for multiple generations.  These children form a bond with each other—but why?  Why does one of the children seem to know so much about the other child?  What is it about them that makes them special?  How do they adapt to this world that is really new for them both?  They aren’t perfect in a personal sense—both have personal issues they bring to the school, so they not only have to contend with the pressures of school, but with the pressures the place upon themselves.

It’s a hard world when you’re eleven—it’s even harder when you are a witch in training.

*.*.*

ABOUT HOW YOU WRITE::

18. How often do you write?

Every day.  If I’m not working on a current project, I write in my blog.  I believe the last time I passed a day without writing was somewhere back in 2011.

19. Approximately how many words do you write at each sitting?

I do a minimum of five hundred words on by blog, and between eight hundred and twelve hundred words a day on my current project.  There are time when I manage more, and a few times when I’ve managed less, but I try to keep to the schedule.  Since I tend to write novels, I try to finish them in a reasonable amount of time, and not stretch them out for years on end.

20. Do you do your own editing or send it to someone else?

I do a lot of editing during the creation of my first draft, and then read back over my work as I go along.  I’ve yet to send my work off to another editor, mostly because good editors are not only hard to find, but can run into some money.  I hope that my financial status improves so that in the future I can find a great editor to help improve my work.

21. What is your method of writing?  (i.e., Do you write the entire manuscript, then go back and make changes?  Do you plan chapters as you go along or write the story then go back and add chapters? Do you re-read as you go along or after you are done with the first draft?)

I plan things out rather well.  I write in Scrivener, so before I start a story I’ll begin setting up the layout of the story before one word is written.  As with my current project, I set up each part, then chapters, then the scenes within each chapter—and then I divided each part into different acts.

With each scene I type some metainformation indicating what should happen inside the scene.  With this story I’ve also set up dates and times so I know if everything is happening in the proper order.  If I need to do so, I’ll take this information and enter it in Aeon Timeline because I like to know that everything is in the right order.

Once I have everything laid out, I’ll start writing.  I always know the title of my story, and the end:  all I have to do after that is fill in the middle.

I always write the first draft, editing as I go along.  I’ll reread a page if need, and check each paragraph when I can.  With my current project, because of the size of the story, I’m going over early chapters now, and I’ll continue checking and editing each chapter as I go along while adding new material.  It’s something that William Gibson does, and I’m finding it works pretty well for me as well.

If I add chapters or scenes, I’ll do it when I reach a point where I realize I need one.  If I have to go back and add a chapter, then I didn’t lay out the story correctly.  While I’ve never had to go back and add a chapter, I’ve added scenes as I’ve gone alone, but only rarely.

22. Do you have a muse?  If so, please elaborate. If not, what inspires you?

I have one and she’s been with me a long time.  She’s the one who believes in me, and the one who keeps me writing because she knows I’m good.  I couldn’t live without her, and even when she doesn’t speak to me, I know she’s thinking of me and urging me on.  I send her a kiss every so often, too.  *Mwah!*

23. How long does it take you to write a full manuscript?

That depends.  Her Demonic Majesty is eight-six thousand words, and I wrote it in twenty-five days, but I wasn’t working at the time.  Kolor Ijo is seventy-three thousand words, and I wrote it in twenty-eight days, but I wasn’t working then, either.  Now, Subjective Amusements is seventy-two thousand words, but that was the first novel I wrote while working a “regular” job, and that took me about ninety days.  My current project is, at the moment, one hundred and forty thousand words, and I spent one hundred ten days getting that far.  I can certainly write a lot more if I’m not working another job.  I usually average about a thousand words a day, so with that in mind, I can write ninety thousand words in three months.

24. Do you give yourself a word limit for each day or a time limit to finish your novel?  If so, please elaborate.

I stick with around a thousand words a day.  I find that usually gives me a couple of hours a night to work on my story, and to keep the manuscript clean during the first draft.  If you don’t have a lot of time during a day to write, you make the time you have count, and that’s what I try to do.

25. How do you come up with your character names and geographic location / business names?

With my characters I try to come up with an image of them first, and then I go with a name that seems to go with them.  When the name feels right, then I keep it.  I’ve only changed two character’s names because I didn’t feel it was right for the person.

Geographic locations just seem to come to me, but I also spend time looking at maps and searching around to find what I believe to be the perfect location.  I’ve always been good with maps, and I love hunting around Google Maps looking for places to place my scenes.

26. How long (or how detailed) are the notes you take before you start writing?

Depending upon how much world building I’m doing, my notes can be quite extensive.  My story Kolor Ijo took place in a city in Indonesia, so I had a lot of note about the area, the sort of food eaten, taxis, hotels, the location of different well known sites, the airport, the ferry lines that worked out of the harbor.  With my current project I’ve had to build a world from scratch:  one of the things I did was build a scale model of the entire school in three dimensions using the program Blender, then I labeled everything so I knew the names of every building—I even created the tunnel system under the school that the students use when a major storm blows in off the Atlantic, or the grounds are buried under a foot of snow.

I’d say for this project I’ve close to thirty pages of notes, and with the possibility of turning this novel into a series, I add to the notes every time I think about what’s coming in the future.

27. Do you have any “must haves” to help you write?  (i.e., a full cup of coffee, a view of the ocean, etc.)

I like to write with music playing, but that’s about it.  Oh, and a comfortable chair:  when you have to type for hours, you want a comfortable chair and good lighting.  Did I mention the lighting?

I also like to drink water when writing so I don’t get hungry.  And you are forced to take a break every hour or so when you need to go to the bathroom.

28. Do you only write during a certain time of day or in a certain location?  If so, do you make yourself stop after a certain time?

These days I write at night, usually after I’ve spent an hour or so decompressing from work.  If there is something on at ten PM that I want to see, I’ll stop then, but I usually have my word count by then.  I don’t watch a lot of television, so it helps I don’t have that distraction.

29. Does your real life ever neglected because of your writing?  If so, how do you feel about that?

I don’t have much of a real life, so there isn’t much of something to neglect.  It would be nice to go out and do things now and then, but unfortunately, that doesn’t happen very often.

30.What is the quirkiest thing you do or have ever done when writing?

Hum . . . I don’t think I’ve ever done anything that quirky while writing.  Most of the time I like writing in my pajamas, but only because I enjoy being comfortable.  All work is better when you’re in your pajamas.  *laughing*

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ABOUT YOUR WORK::

31. If you have written more than one novel, which is your favorite and why?

Right now my current novel is my favorite, though I have many soft spots for Transporting and Kolor Ijo.  Transporting was my first novel, and Kolor Ijo was a real research job that takes place in another country in our world.  Also, both novels have some of my favorite characters ever created.  However, the characters of my current project—they’re real sweethearts to me.

32. If you could be one of your own characters for a day, who would it be and why?

Hum . . . It would be a toss-up between Audrey Dahl and Kerry Malibey.  Both are unusual, emotionally volatile, and deeply in love with their significant others.  Sometimes I wonder if they are the same people in different worlds.

And why?  Both are smart, flawed, and powerful with powers and magic.  They are also driven to try and do the right thing, even if it isn’t the best thing for them.  They are, truly flawed heroes.  Oh, and they are nothing without the person they love the most:  without that person they are lost.

33. If one of your books became a movie, who would you choose for the “perfect cast” of main characters?

That’s really impossible for me to define.  I have used well-known people to imagine some of my characters, but if there was a movie I couldn’t say that someone would be perfect for the role.  I would rather the script stay fateful to the story.

34. What is the oddest thing you have ever researched for one of your books?

Genital piercings for women.  I needed to know the names and where they were placed, because one of my characters had one.

35. What is the most difficult thing you have ever researched for one your books and why?

Finding the right stars to place habitable planets around.  There is a limit to what sort of information you can find on-line, and as we discover more exoplanets, it makes it harder to keep the “fiction” in the “science.”

Beyond that I’ve not found too many things difficult to research.  I grew up during the Cold War, stayed two miles from a first-strike target in Florida during the worst part of the Cuban Missile Crises, and once sat in on the autopsy of a thirty-one year old woman who’d died from cardiac arrest and got to hold her heart the next day.  So “difficult” things aren’t difficult for me.  It’s all part of a writer’s job to face the difficult and tell its tale.

*.*.*

Thank you, Cassidy, for allowing me to interview you.  I hope everyone else has enjoyed learning about you and your work as much as I have.

~Rachel

Jeremy’s Adventures in Lilliput

For today’s Throwback Thursday, I’m sharing the story of a tradition that was passed down in my family through generations.  This is the story of storytelling.  When I was little, my granddad used to tell me a lot of classic literature stories that he read way back when he was in school.  Two of my favorites were Daniel Defoe’s Robison Crusoe and Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels.  I don’t know why, but I’ve always been fascinated by stories that featured someone being stranded on an island.  One of my favorite books that I had to read as a senior in high school is William Golding’s Lord of the Flies (and I love both movie versions), and one of my favorite television shows when I was a kid was “Gilligan’s Island.”

gulliver (1)

When my son, Jeremy, was small, he had a lot of trouble falling asleep at night because of his overactive brain.  (Like me, he has Asperger’s Syndrome, so I completely understand how it feels to be unable to stop thinking long enough to sleep.) So, each night, I used to tuck him in and tell him a story for up to an hour at a time. When we started this tradition, I told him the same stories that my granddad told me.  And just like me, the stories that kept him the most interested were the ones that featured people being stranded on seemingly deserted islands.  His favorite was Gulliver’s Travels.

gulliver (3)Every night, I told him a little bit more about the adventures of Captain Lemuel Gulliver. Of course, I started with the obvious visit to the fictional land of Lilliput. Jeremy was so fascinated, and he had tons of questions, so in order to answer them all, I had to deviate a bit from Jonathan Swift’s version, and make up my own details.  (At one point, we had Gulliver and the Lilliputians building a hut out of bamboo… Being autistic, that was one thing that stuck in Jeremy’s mind so much that he became obsessed with bamboo, to the point that we had to go find some so he could see it in real life.)

gulliver (2)

Of course, all good things must come to an end, so Gulliver eventually had to leave Lilliput and move on with his life. Fortunately, since Jeremy and I share the same type of autism, like me, he also has an audiographic memory and can remember practically everything he’s ever heard.  So, as I told him the story, he had no problem remembering all the details of our previous conversations regarding the adventures.  For the next several months, it was our tradition to spend an hour or so each night talking about and expanding on Gulliver’s adventures in Brobdingnag, Laputa, Balnibarbi, Luggnagg, Glubbdubdrib, Japan, and Houyhnhnms.  Unfortunately for us, however, Jonathan Swift either moved on to something else or didn’t live long enough to write any more about the traveling surgeon-turned-sea-captain.  But Jeremy wanted to hear more.  So, like any good mama, I did what had to be done to fill the void in my son’s bedtime ritual:  I made up some additional travels.  We literally continued the story for years.

My son is grown now, and while he doesn’t need to be tucked in any longer, he does occasionally call me into his room to talk right before he goes to sleep.  And just sometimes, if I’m lucky, he’ll say something like, “You know we never finished that Gulliver story.  We should try to get back to that someday.”  I hope that one day if he’s ever blessed with children, he’ll pass on our family tradition of telling them about shipwrecked passengers being stranded on a deserted island with no hope of ever returning to the civilized world and fighting daily to survive.  Pleasant dreams!

I WANT to Like You

When I was at the height of my career as a professional photographer, I started a photography blog.  But for various reasons, I didn’t really utilize that blog to the fullest.  I didn’t especially need people all over the world to see my photography, but rather only the people that lived close enough to be potential clients.  So I didn’t reach out and follow other bloggers, and I didn’t have many followers other than people that were already on my client list.  I also didn’t blog regularly, but the once or twice a month that I did, I added way too many posts at one time.  And I was fine with that.

Fast forward a few years.  I started writing novels, started researching what I needed to do to grow as a writer, and lo and behold, I needed to start a blog.  This time, I did things differently.  I gave myself the goal of blogging every weekday (or at least scheduling a blog for every weekday).  I look for and find other blogs that interest me, and I follow them.  And I try to make time each day to actually read the new posts of my fellow bloggers. 

wordpress like buttonBut I think I may still be doing something wrong.  The first thing I do is go through my email where it tells me that someone either liked one of my posts, commented, or is now following me.  As I encounter those alerts, I click on one of the links of the suggested posts by that person, then I look for their most current post to read.  At that point, I was having trouble up until a couple of weeks ago when I realized that if I clicked on their banner, it generally took me to their blog’s main page where I could easily navigate to the most recent post.  

While I’m still in my email, a lot of blogs that I follow go straight to my mail and others don’t…  Yet, I didn’t do anything other than click “Follow” on all of them.  (Can anyone explain this?)  At any rate, just as I described above, I then read those posts and click “Like” or perhaps comment. 

Now, I’m not quite sure of “blogging etiquette,” but I just try to be kind.  If someone follows me, I follow them back.  If I read a post, I want to always click “Like.”  (Even in the very rare occasion that I don’t necessarily agree with the post’s topic, I do like that the blog author is writing, so there’s nothing not to like… I’ve only had this happen once, actually.)  If I have extra time that day, I’ll also leave a comment.

After I go through the email, I then go to my “Reader” and look for any posts that I may have missed.  And again, depending on my schedule that day, I may get through an entire days’ worth of posts, or I may only get through a couple of dozen. 

But the problem I’m running into is this:  Sometimes, I can’t find the “Like” button or even the most recent post!  Believe it or not, I am actually not stupid, yet WordPress has managed to leave me flummoxed on more than one occasion.  I realized a few weeks ago that if I click on the title of the post, sometimes that will open the post in its own page and give me the option to like and comment.  However, at other times, I feel like gouging my eyes out because I can’t see how to tell you that I like what you’ve written.  I know this is not your doing, but is probably because of the WordPress “Theme” being used.

So, that being said, I ask you, my friends and fellow bloggers, please take a good look at your own blog, and if I’ve never actually liked anything, please tell me how to do it.  (Also, if unlike me you’re an experienced blogger, if it sounds like I’ve missed a huge step in what I outlined above, I’d definitely be up for any tips you might be willing to share.)

Thank you for helping me “Like” you!

I’ll See You in My Dreams

Artists of all kinds, writers included, are sensitive souls. When we create our masterpieces, we reach deep inside ourselves to add part of us to the projects on which we work.  Then when we publicize our work, we brace ourselves as we know that the critics will crawl out of the woodwork, waiting to chew up and spit out our babies.

But when I say that writers are sensitive, I don’t mean to imply that we’re thin-skinned and easily get hurt feelings.  As a matter of fact, if that were the case, we’d be on a suicide mission every time we submitted anything for publication.  What I mean is that I believe we’re better in touch with our own feelings as well as the feelings of those around us.  (I particularly find it funny that I’m so extraordinarily empathetic, because I have Asperger’s Syndrome.  In case you don’t know, lack of empathy is generally one of the major symptoms associated with this form of Autism.)  

In yesterday’s post, I told you about several authors who had successfully predicted future inventions or events within their books.  And that got me to wondering how many of those writers may have dreamed their ideas for those novels.  Or how many of you who write, dream your next idea?  Personally, about half of the manuscripts that I’ve written have either come to me in a dream or all at once in a kind of a “vision” (and I hesitate to use that word because of the quirky taboo associated with it) the moment I woke up. 

I’ve had other dreams over the years that I felt at the time would probably make for a good book or movie, but oddly, they weren’t in a genre that I cared to write or see.  But over the years, I’ve come to find that other people don’t necessarily have dreams like that.

dreams

My sister, for example, almost always dreams of wonderful fantasy lives featuring herself.  For example, she dreams that she’s walking along, minding her business, when she looks down and finds a winning lottery ticket.  Or she’s home doing nothing, when suddenly, a handsome movie star knocks on the door to get directions because he’s lost, then he sees her, instantly falls in love, and asks her to marry him.  And sometimes when she’s mad at someone, she dreams that she has superhuman powers and beats them to a pulp until they beg her for mercy, then they apologize profusely for being so mean in the first place.  (And if you knew her, you’d know how ridiculous that one is.)  At any rate, she’s always the star and always comes out on top.

As for me, I’m almost never in my own dreams. Quite often, actually, they’re entirely about complete strangers.  I’ve also had numerous dreams in my life of things that came true, though sometimes they’re a bit skewed.  I’m not claiming to be any kind of psychic or anything like that.  I just think I’m extra sensitive to certain things going on around me.  When I have these dreams, they’re never because I am thinking about the subject beforehand.  They just happen, then I find out later how accurate they actually were. 

For example, for the purpose of this post, my ex-husband’s name is “Bob.”  (That’s not really his name, but I don’t want to infringe on his privacy by revealing his true identity.)  When we were separated, I had a dream that he was in a phone booth outside a McDonald’s and was with two other people when he was killed in a drive by shooting.  I woke up so frazzled, that before I even got out of bed, I called Bob and told him my dream.  But he got angry that I was pulling a stupid joke on him while he was at work.  I told him I didn’t know what he was talking about. I was still shaking from how realistic my dream was, and I was quite upset.  Then he told me to turn on the news.  Apparently, there were three African-American men, one who was named Bob, inside a phone booth outside of a McDonald’s the night before, and in a drive-by shooting, that Bob was shot and killed.

When I was a teenager, I worked at a convenience store, and I knew a lot of my customers by name (because I had to card them for purchases of tobacco or alcohol).  I had a dream one night of a customer named Brad who always drove a blue Mustang.  In my dream, he was with a tall, blonde girl named Suzanna, but he called her Sue.  They were in a brand new red Celica, and they were headed to a small town in Tennessee named Crab Orchard to see her family.  They stopped at a grocery store along the way, where they were involved in a car accident as they were leaving the parking lot.  The next day, Brad came into my store when he got off work, and I told him my dream.  He looked at me kind of oddly, but didn’t really say anything more.  I didn’t think anything more about it until the day after that when a red Celica pulled into the parking lot, and a tall blonde girl got out.  She came in and stood in the store, not looking at anything to buy as she waited for the other customers to leave.  Then she introduced herself.  She said her name was Suzanna, but people called her Sue, and that her boyfriend Brad told her about a dream I had about them!  She said she just got her new car the week before, and she and Brad were planning a trip that very weekend to her hometown of Crab Orchard, Tennessee to see her dad.  But because of my dream, she changed her plans. 

So, hopefully I didn’t make you think that I’m a complete oddball.  (I usually get one of two reactions when I share my dreams such as these:  Either, “Wow, that’s so cool!” or, “Um,  okay… Well, that’s sure weird!”)   If you found any of this interesting, I have dozens of similar prophetic dreams I can share.  But now, I want to know… What do you dream?