Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Middle Age in the Digital Age

   This Saturday, I turn forty. Other than having a massive book sale (that you should absolutely check out), I am not making a huge fuss about it. I'm not big into parties and I am certainly not the type to panic and act like the world is coming to an end because I am another year older.
   If anything, I feel a bit like a fraud. Forty is old, right? Adult at the very least. I mean, come on, I have gray hair, doesn't that prove I am a grown up? It might. I'm sure many twenty-somethings out there might look at me and think, "Uh, yeah, you old, grandma!"
   But do I feel old? Do I feel like a grown up? No. Not really. I am relatively responsible and I have recently realized that going out and partying is not an option when it takes several days to recover, but overall, I don't feel as if I have a whole lot in common with where my parents were at my age. Granted, that may have more to do with the fact that they had four kids, one who was in college. I'm surprised they survived with their sanity mostly intact. Sorry mom and dad!
   I have to wonder how much of this is perspective and how much is outside influence? Would I be more inclined to act my age if I didn't have access to all of the latest memes and millennial news at my fingertips? Am I any less responsible because I allow my bills to be paid automatically instead of sending off a check each month? Maybe, maybe not.
   See, there's something about being old that bugs me. It's all the complaining. Now, don't get me wrong, I do my fair share of complaining. Old people are supposed to complain about young people. That's our job.  But I try to keep my complaints from straying into the realm of hypocritical.
   The biggest complaint that I see is that young people today spent all of their time glued to their phones. No, this is not something I overheard at my Saturday afternoon bridge club. This was not voiced by Ms. Maisey Lou at the gardening society social. This was not even told to me by a nosey neighbor at the local grocery store. Primarily, I see this complaint in the form of image macros on social media websites like TWITTER and FACEBOOK. You know, those places millennials are supposedly addicted to. Seems counterintuitive to me to use the very outlets you are trying to shame to complain about someone else's addiction. It's just as dumb as people using the internet to complain about nerds and computer geeks.
   Admit it, old people, the only reason you went out, did things face to face, or looked things up in the encyclopedia was because the internet did not exist. How convenient that we can forget how addicted we were to talking on the phone. Not about important stuff, just tying up the family phone line to gab for hours with our friend who lived right down the way. All we were doing was texting with our mouths. How was our late night cable TV binge any different than a Netflix binge other than you now have more options? You didn't go out to crowded bars and clubs every weekend because you loved the noise, smells, and unsavory characters you inevitably met. You went out because Tinder didn't exist yet and dating services were the expensive luxuries of those rich enough to admit their desperation. Arcades were way cooler than console gaming? Okay, that's just misplaced nostalgia for a couple of pixels housed in a pretty wooden cabinet and oh, by the way, no one was socializing there either. Not with the high score on Centipede at stake.
   Of course, being a writer, I see the eBook hate quite a bit. The other day, an image macro was making its way around lamenting all the things one can do with a paper book that can't be done with an eBook. Barring the fact that pressing flowers in a book was actually an old timey life hack and not the best thing for your book to begin with, I do not see a paper book shortage here. But I digress. My actual complaint here was that someone made the comment: "It's scary, but we can't stop technology from happening."

   Um...

   No, what is scary is that anyone would want to stop technology. As I said, I am about to turn forty. While I say that isn't old, let's take a look at what life would be like if the powers that be were able to stop technology at the time of my birth. Let's look at how awesome life would be...

   Well, first of all, how many of us would even be alive right now? Tamper resistant packaging came about as a result of cyanide poisoning in the eighties. Had we just rolled with it, what else could have happened? Let's not forget that AIDS was a death sentence until very recent medical advances came about. Everyone would still have to experience chicken pox, opening them up to the risk of shingles in adulthood. Got pain? Congrats, you now also have a morphine addiction. But that's okay, because it might counteract your addiction to meth amphetamines prescribed by your friendly doctor because weight loss is all about public image and not heart health.
   Seatbelts would be optional and airbags nonexistent, so more car crashes would be fatal. Sun screen would be unheard of and we would all be lighting our Luckys or cigarette of our choice while we grocery shopped, sat at our desks at work, or nursed our children.
   You think we have environmental issues now? What do you think the air would be like if we still used leaded gasoline and hairspray chock full of CFCs? Remember the smog around LA? Imagine a world full of it.
   Not everything would kill us, but many things we take for granted, like HBO, would not exist. Want to watch Game of Thrones in a world where premium cable and digital media don't exist? Have fun sitting in the sticky seats of the local adult theater with the rest of the degenerates, you pervert! Don't like a song on the radio? Sorry, you can't 'skip' it and good luck finding another station in all that static. Want to listen to music while you run? Too bad, the Walkman hasn't been invented.
   And last, but certainly not least, have fun cutting the scratchy garment labels out of your underwear. That's right, printed labels have only been a thing for about fifteen years.

   We have come a long way in forty years. I have too. Do I occasionally long for simpler times? Sure. Do I love that we can replicate simpler times with modern conveniences? Abso-freaking-lutely! So what is my point? Simply this: don't knock modern technology because the alternative isn't as cheerful as you think, and don't knock old people for being crabby and obsolete. You're going to need us when the robots take over and cut off the world's power supply. And when the sentient robot army cuts off the world's power supply, don't act all surprised when I become a minion/henchman for the overlords. Mamma needs her WiFi. ;)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

One Lovely Blog Hop

This blog hop is designed to show our readers a more personal side. We list seven interesting facts to help cast light onto that tough writer’s persona we all like to project. But I am human and like everyone else I have dreams, hobbies, problems and goals. I see this as a way to share some of them with you, my readers.
The rules are that I share 7 Lovely Facts about myself, and links to other blogs that I enjoy reading. If I’ve nominated your blog, please don’t feel any obligation to join in, but if you do please link back to the blog of the person who nominated you (that would be me), share 7 facts about yourself and nominate 15 blogs (or as many as you can).

Once again, I have been tagged by the super talented Chess Desalls. As I have said about a million times, I want to one day be the powerhouse of pay it forward promotions for the indie author world. Chess is already there. Seriously, she is simply amazing in her support for fellow authors! Her next book, Insight Kindling, the follow up to Travel Glasses, will be coming out early next year, so if you haven't started the series, get on that right now! Her blog is fantastic and you should definitely be following her.

So, here are my seven lovely facts about me:

1. My secret ambition is to be a stunt driver. I'm typically a pretty cautious person and I am a very mindful driver. I've successfully driven myself out of situations that could have taken a dangerous turn because I have great respect for the tons of metal flying down the highway, occasionally manned by folks who are a little less than cautious. One day I'd like to get on a closed track and strap myself into something with a little more horsepower than my Pontiac and see exactly what I am capable of.

2. I am turning 40 this week and I still want superpowers. Ideally, Wolverine's indestructible awesomeness, but honestly, I'm not picky.

3. Growing up, I thought my only career options were astronaut or the president. As I have mentioned before, I was a very literal child. I don't know how many times I heard: "You could be an astronaut!" and "You may just be the president one day!" In my mind, these were not negotiable. I assumed the people telling me this were giving me a heads up as to what job I was going to be assigned on the day I became a grown up. I felt a little smug about becoming the president, but I have to admit, the astronaut option kind of terrified me. I wouldn't decide space was cool until I was old enough to realize I probably wouldn't be the president.

4. If I am posting my opinions in a public forum, I read my comments in the voice of Richard Harris' Dumbledore before submitting. If my words sound foreign in his voice, I know I am straying into heated, rude, or otherwise irrational territory and I revise. Honestly, if everyone did this, we may have less arguments.

5. Speaking of voices, I am so sorry, internet, but James Earl Jones > Morgan Freeman. That's right, I know the real way to break the internet! Also, the most underrated and awesome female voice actor is Katey Sagal. You know I'm right.

6. As you know from reading this blog, I am an incurable introvert. But... I'm getting past the anxiety and have joined several groups for authors. In doing so, I have met many wonderful writers who are also fantastic people. I'm not ready for speaking engagements or anything crazy just yet, but life is far more bearable when there are others who know your ups and downs.

7. I beat diabetes. No really. In 2009 I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and within three months managed to get my a1c (a number that tells the amount of sugar in the blood) down from dangerous to manageable. In the next five years I lost more than fifty pounds and brought that number back into the normal, nondiabetic range. How? Diet and exercise mostly, but I did have one 'weird' trick as the scammer sites would say. My love of cooking. Seriously. It is possible to make delicious and filling food that is also healthy, but it is nowhere near as convenient or cheap as fast food and prepackaged meals. This needs to change, but that is another post for another day. I still love cupcakes, but now they are an occasional treat, not an every day occurrence.

And here are the blogs I like to read. Please check them out. You may find something you love as well!

Shoshanah Marohn is the author of Exhaust(ed) and the upcoming children's book A Murder of Crows and Other Woes. Her blog showcases her books and art, as well as the crazy s and downs of living on a farm. Her blog can be found here.

Gary Abbott is the author of The Dimension Scales and other stories. His blog is currently in a transitional state as he decides what direction he will be taking in the future, but every Thursday he still runs an Admin Cat comic, which I am fond of. His blog can be found here.

Doug Schwartz is the author of Checkered Scissors and Pickled Bananas. His blog is a mix of game development updates, author interviews, a serialized story, and other insights. His blog can be found here.

Kara Jorgensen is the author of The Earl of Brass and the upcoming The Winter Garden. Her blog is an entertaining mix of insights as a writer and grad student. She has just posted her own seven lovely facts, so go get to know more about this author. Her blog can be found here.

S. Usher Evans is the author of Double Life, the first book in the Razia series. She is a cross promotion powerhouse and often has guest posts from other talented authors. Her own posts are quite fascinating and even a bit humorous with her use of reaction gifs to drive home her points. Her blog can be found here.

Belart Wright is an up and coming author. His blog includes book and game reviews as well as character profiles and information on his upcoming book, Average Joe and the Extraordinaires. His blog can be found here.

Sue Perry is the author of Nica of Los Angeles, the first book in the Frames series. She has been participating in a weekly photo challenge, so each post has been something of a study in individual perspective that I find very cool. Her blog can be found here.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

I Wanna Be a Paperback Writer

   Okay, you have read this blog long enough to know that this title is a bold lie. You have also read this blog long enough to know that I use song lyrics in my titles to make myself look cool. While it is true that I am an advocate for e-reading and inexpensive ebooks, I have always maintained that there are circumstances where physical books are preferable. There are also times when the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.
   Rather, in my case, the needs of the very few outweigh the stubbornness of the author. My book, Kind of Like Life features one of my cousins as the beautiful cover model. Because of this, I created a physical copy so that family members could have something to show off and brag over. On that level, the physical book became a display piece, a work of art.
   But doing this also opened another door. With a physical book, I was able to run a giveaway on Goodreads, which, by the way, is still open until the 12th of November. Anyone with a Goodreads account may enter to win one of five copies.
   Self-publishing a paperback is hard work. Formatting takes a lot of time and as an indie writing genre fiction, sales of ebooks are by far steadier and more frequent. Because of this, my first series, The Eyes of The Sun will never be physically published unless a small press approaches me with an offer. However, going forward, I will have both physical and digital copies of all my future books.
   Why? Because I want to have the option of offering a low cost digital story that anyone can get wrapped up in at any time. But I also want to have a piece of art available for those who appreciate aesthetics. Which is exactly what my zombie apocalypse novella, Going Green has to offer.
   At 23,000 words, roughly 85 pages, Going Green is a flimsy excuse for a book. I would have had a pretty hard time convincing anyone to pay even production costs, let alone turn a profit. So instead, I hired an artist and added a bunch of silliness to the back of the book and can now present you with an artistic novelty item that is the perfect under $10 gift for the office weirdo or that one oddball cousin.
   One of the items I added was a zombie themed crossword puzzle. The answers, as well as additional zombie information, will be posted to a dedicated page on this blog this weekend. But that isn't even the best part. Serendipity is the word I use to describe how this all came about. 
   I came up with the ridiculous idea to publish Going Green in print while walking to the grocery store one night. By the time I got home, I had an idea of what I wanted, so I contacted an artist by the name of Ben Boyce.
   Ben had previously mentioned interest in book illustrating, but I was worried that the concept of a satirical zombie story might be off putting. Apparently not, because I cannot begin to tell you what an amazing job he did at turning my words into pictures. You will simply have to see for yourself. For more of Ben's work, visit his website or Facebook page. To see a glimpse of the book, check out the Look Inside feature (once it becomes available) on Going Green. Thanks to Ben, I now have yet another work that becomes a work of art.
   I'm still team ebook, don't get me wrong. I still champion the progress of the science fiction age. But if physical books are still what the people want, you better be dang sure I am going to make the prettiest books I can.