Decisions, Decisions

IWSG

The idea of self-publishing used to terrify me, but not for the reason one might expect. It had nothing to do with a fear of failure; as an overweight, divorced, bankrupt and often-unemployed woman nearing her fiftieth birthday, I pretty much deal with failure on a daily basis. Believe me, I could write a long and detailed blog post about all of the areas in my life where I have failed.

I fail at a lot of things, and I usually do so spectacularly.

I am not afraid of failure.

But I was afraid to be a self-published author.  You see, I heard all the horror stories. I read the warnings when I haunted the writing forums to learn what the self-published authors were talking about. I learned terms like “carpet bombing” and “Goodreads bullies” and “trolls” and I almost bailed without ever trying.

It was intimidating. No, it was terrifying to think that years of hard work and effort could all be washed down the drain for reasons that had nothing to do with writing skills — or lack thereof. I was afraid to self-publish because I was worried about ending up on the wrong side of the wrong people. I was scared of pissing off someone who might take revenge on my book, because, hey, I read about it happening all the time.

But I have never been able to resist a challenge, so I swallowed my fear and self-published Her House Divided in February of 2014. I made a lot of mistakes and I realized that I had a huge learning curve ahead of me, but it’s been a great ride. A bumpy ride, but still a  thrilling one.

And the people I was warned about? Yep, they exist. Trolls and Bullies and Whackadoodles, oh my!

But I’ve learned that those guys are the minority. A noisy minority, to be sure, but a minority nonetheless. For the most part, the world of self-publishing has turned out to be filled with helpful, supportive, and productive people who really do seem to look out for each other. I have been so warmly welcomed into the community by writers in every genre, at every different stage in their writing careers.

It’s a matter of finding the supportive people and walking away from the destructive ones.

Easier said than done, right?

Here’s how I see it. I can go to the writing forums and spend my time with the people who want to look for the negative in everything. I can argue with every writer who swears Amazon is stealing their money or lying about their sales, and I can end up embroiled in unproductive arguments about every aspect of writing and publishing. In the end, it would be sort of like arguing with a rattlesnake to convince it that it’s a garter snake — it’s an argument I can’t win, and I’ll just end up filled with venom.

Or . . . . I can surround myself with the kind of professionals who understand that we are all part of the same community.That’s been the “bumpy” part of the learning process I referred to earlier. I’ve wasted far too many hours over the past year and a half, spent far too much time around the kind of folks who are more concerned with dragging down than raising up.  

For every author who spends their time mocking a particular genre or writer, there are authors like Marysol James and Mae Martini, who are always ready to offer honest feedback and practical suggestions of what works for them.  There’s an M. Lauryl Lewis  standing by to chit-chat about marketing strategies and share her ideas.

For every author who takes delight in the poor sales of a competitor, there is a Nancy Gideon offering words of encouragement instead.  There’s a Jasinda Wilder reaching out to say “Don’t be jealous of me honey! … Just keep writing. Get the next book out because that is more room on the shelf. I’m rooting for you.”

For every angry blogger posting insults and criticisms aimed at their fellow writers, there are bloggers like Ryan Lanz, Chris McMullen and Kristen Lamb, who use their blogs to offer guidance and support to their fellow writers.  And let’s not forget that Kristen Lamb is also responsible for creating the “MyWANA” hashtag, which is there to remind us all that we are not alone.

We are not alone. That’s what Alex Cavanaugh and his Insecure Writers Support Group are all about. We share our insecurities, and our fellow writers swoop in to offer advice or encouragement, or sometimes just a bit of virtual online hand-holding when needed.

If you go into self-publishing expecting trolls and whackadoodles, chances are good that you’re going to find exactly what you’re looking for. So why not look for something better? Be something better. Surround yourself with those who lift each other up, and try to do a little lifting yourself when you can.

In the week ahead, I want to challenge all of you to step out of your comfort zone and do something nice for another writer. Share a link to someone else’s book. Leave a comment on a blog you’ve never visited before. Reach out and offer a word of encouragement to an author who’s dealing with slow sales or a bad review.

Make a choice. What kind of writer do you want to be?

This has been my monthly post for the Insecure Writers Support Group. If you are a writer struggling with insecurities or just in need of a little support, please check out this FABULOUS group of wonderful people!  http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/iwsg-sign-up.html

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Randomness

I don’t really have any one big topic to write about right now, but I have a whole bunch of random things that I feel like sharing.  Just for snicks.

  • The daffodils are almost done, but the lilacs are getting ready to bloom. What a great reminder that life may suck sometimes, but true beauty always comes back.  Things get better. They have to.
  • I just worked up the courage to enter the Writer’s Digest annual competition.  I used to enter it every year, but sort of let it fall by the wayside a while ago. I have no delusions about taking first place, but I’d like to get recognition for being somewhere in the Top 100. Even if I’m all the way down there in 100th place I’ll be ecstatic.
  • My espresso machine just broke. I feel as though I’ve lost a valued member of my family.
  • My daughter went to prom this weekend, and I got all nostalgic and weepy when I saw the pictures of her and her friends dressed up for the event. There are rumors around town that I spent the evening singing “Sunrise, Sunset” at the top of my lungs, but I can neither confirm nor deny that particular rumor.
  • I cut off my oldest son’s hair last week and discovered that he’s a pretty good-looking kid now that I can actually see his face.  Poor kid has this absolutely astonishing hair that grows wide instead of long. He usually won’t allow me to cut it because he says it is an endangered habitat for the baby eagles nesting in there. Yes, he says things like that all time.
  • My house has had no heat for a week, and my relationship with my afghans has moved to the next level.
  • Interesting tidbit that some folks may not realize:  if you are a blogger and you leave a comment on my blog, it leaves a clickable link that readers can follow back to your blog. This does not mean that I am sending people to your blog or linking to it in any way; when you leave a comment, you are creating that link yourself.
  • Readers who click on the link created by your comments are not “stalking” you.  Bloggers who approve your comments creating these links are not “stalking” you, either.
  • I will never again buy frozen burritos from the local Amish store. I still don’t know what was wrapped up inside those suckers, but it should never have been put inside a burrito. That was a bad idea.  And I should never have eaten two of them; that was an even worse idea.
  • Going back for a third one the next day was just stupidity on my part. I’ve got no excuse.
  • Speaking of the Amish, I saw something yesterday that was just delightfully wrong on so many levels: four Amish ladies, in full black dresses, bonnets and aprons, jumping on a trampoline.
  • Words failed me.
  • Seriously, words never fail me.
  • I have chosen to discontinue my author interviews for the time being for some personal reasons that I’d rather not go into right now. Don’t worry; I plan on starting up again when things calm down a bit in my world.
  • And speaking of author interviews . . . those of you who enjoyed my conversation with Zombie author M. Lauryl Lewis may be interested to know that her book Grace Lost has been nominated for the Zombie Book of the Month Club. If you’d like to vote, click here and scroll through the comments until you see the mention of Grace Lost. Then just “like” it. That’s all there is to it.
  • I am speaking about writing and self-publishing at my local library in two weeks, and I am utterly terrified. I just know I’m going to stutter; my old lisp is going to come back, and I will probably forget how to speak English. That’s a problem, because I don’t really know how to speak anything else, either.
  • Oh, and one last thing. Like any author, I have set up Google alerts to let me know whenever there is an online mention of my pen name, my real name, the names of my books, and so on. When I receive an email letting me know of such a mention, I check it out. That is not “stalking.” That is “protecting my professional image.”
  • And that’s all I’ve got to say on that.

Now I’m off to watch part of my youngest nephew’s baseball game, followed by youngest son’s first game of the season. It’s cold and damp outside, and sitting on the bleachers is going to be just plain awful.

And I can’t wait.

Grouch To Groucho

It’s been one of those mornings.

I had crazy dreams all night.  The last one, the one that woke me up in a cold sweat, involved my riding around Mackinac Island on a tour bus filled with Brownie Scouts and their Troop leaders, all of whom were glaring at me because my child and I were not in uniform.  It was especially odd because the child wasn’t my daughter, and there are no motor vehicles on Mackinac Island.

I woke from that strangeness around 4:30 with a headache so bad that my eyeballs were throbbing.  Lots of hot coffee and two hot showers later, it’s not much better; I do, however, have a vague marketing idea for hot coffee showers.

Would that not be the greatest invention of all time?

When I finally sat down at the computer, I discovered that I have forgotten how to spell.  Anything.  Anything at all, even my own name.  That’s all right, though, because I have apparently also forgotten how to type, along with a few other things that are pretty important to me as a writer.  Working on a chapter in my newest book today, I have called my main character Eric, Kenny, Brian, and George.  All perfectly nice names, but his name is Jayson.

I went back for more coffee and stood at the kitchen window, staring out at my snow-covered yard.  Only to realize, after several moments of absolutely nothing going inside my head, that the bright fluorescent curtains are missing from my son’s playhouse in my back yard, and that the yard is crisscrossed with footprints in the snow all over the place.  Someone has had a wonderful time playing out there in the past few days.

Which is odd, since my kids are with their father this week.

Honestly, I was starting to feel like Arthur Dent in the opening scene of Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy, when he looks out the window at the bulldozers circling his house and all he can think of to say is, “Yellow.”

Then, just as I was really settling in to a satisfying round of whining about my headache and bad day all over Facebook, a very dear friend sent me a picture that made my day.

groucho

All righty, then.  I am choosing to be happy.

I am happy because my kids and I are healthy, and we have a cozy little house, with neighbor kids who obviously enjoy playing in my back yard.

I am happy because my new book is coming together really well and I’m having fun writing it.  As long as I can remember Jayson’s name, that is.

I am happy because the new features for my blog are coming along nicely, and I’m excited about the very talented people who have agreed to be interviewed by me.

I am happy because my blog has really been taking off lately.  It’s getting more hits every day, as well as more followers.  The “referral” part of my stats page doesn’t always tell me where they are coming from, but I’m still thrilled to see that so many people want to stop by and read what I have to say.

I am happy because my books are selling at a steady pace.  I’m nowhere near bestseller status, but I’m very content at this point to be selling one or two a day.  I’m in the process of making Have a Goode One available through more channels, and things are definitely looking up.

I am especially happy because I just found a Toblerone in my refrigerator.  I don’t remember putting it there, but I’m going to eat it and chalk it up as a gift from the Chocolate Fairy.

What’s that?  You say you don’t believe in the Chocolate Fairy?  Heresy!  She exists, all right.  With her cousins, the Cleaning Fairy, the Money Fairy, and my personal favorite, the Wine Fairy.

groucho2

Be The Change

To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.– Winston Churchill

Some of you may have noticed a few changes here at A Good One.  I’ve changed the theme and color, added a few pages, and really tried to streamline things a bit. My blog was feeling a little cluttered to me, and the start of a new year seems like the perfect time to clear some of that clutter and start fresh.

I have some other changes in mind as well, but they aren’t all about appearance. For starters, I have been doing a lot of thinking about all of the wonderful people who have gone out of their way to help and guide me in the process of learning how to blog, how to share, how to dig deep within myself to find things to say.  I’ve grown so much, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without the more experienced bloggers and authors who have taken the time to reach out to me.

I’m still not the biggest or best blogger around; I know I still have a long way to go.  However, I feel like the time has come for me to give a little something back.

That’s why I’m adding some new features here.  Once a week, I would like to shine a light on another blogger or indie author in an interview or perhaps a review.  Right now, I’m still working out a few of the details, so I probably won’t be launching the new feature until mid-February.  In the meantime, if you are interested in being interviewed or having your work spotlighted here, please contact me at AuthorAJGoode@gmail.com.

I am also looking for guest bloggers once or twice per month.  I’ve never had one before, so this will definitely be a learning experience for everyone involved.

The description of my blog says, “Sometimes, life defies description.  But I’ll try anyway.”  Which is my way of saying that I may cover just about any subject, any genre . . . anything at all.  Let me know what you want to talk about, and I’ll let you know what I think.  My only real requirement when it comes to subject matter is that I won’t accept guest posts that are used to tear another individual down.

When it comes right down to it, we’re all in this together. Bloggers, authors, writers of all kinds; we’re a community, and we need to focus on supporting each other.

The last few months have also taught me a lot about negativity and all of the ways we can poison one another if we choose to take to the low road. There are those who choose mount an attack against a perceived enemy or competitor, and there are those who choose to walk away and seek out the good in others.  It’s up to each one of us to make that choice and decide which road to take.

As for me, I’m taking the high road, and I’m looking for a few traveling companions.

You must be the change you wish to see in the world. — Mahatma Gandhi

Crybaby of The Year

When I was in elementary school, I was given the dubious award of “Crybaby of the Year.”  The boy who gave me that name was a little thug who would get his friends to line up and take turns trying to make me cry.

I wasn’t smart enough to catch on and start crying at the first shove or slap. Oh, no, I would bite my lip and fight back the tears and really drag out the punishment before I’d give in and start bawling.

Back then, nobody talked about bullying.  I got a lot of instructions to “toughen up” and “let it roll off like water off a duck’s back.”  I was told to go into the bathroom until I could get myself under control; come out when I was ready to act my age. The boys who tormented me on a daily basis were not seen as the ones with the problem.  I was the one with the problem, because I was the one who cried every day.

I never really thought about the long-term effect that had on me until much later.  Sure, I dealt with other bullies over the years.  I was, after all, an overweight bookworm from a poor neighborhood, and I had a habit of quoting Shakespeare and Albee at random moments.  I was pretty much a bully’s dream come true, practically delivered with a bright red bow on my nerdy little head.

But I had friends.  Most of them were basically as weird as I was, and we learned to glory in it.  I got to be pretty good at ignoring any detractors.  I rarely cried anymore.  I didn’t realize how far I had gone to the opposite extreme until the night of my car accident, when I lay sobbing, strapped to a backboard with my broken neck and every part of my body restrained in some way, with my family repeating, “But . . . you never cry!”

I’ve cried more in the past three years than I cried in all the years that came before it.  I’ve cried tears of pain and frustration.  Fear and anger.  Hurt and loss.  It’s been hell, but I finally stopped crying again in these past few months.  I’ve been a phoenix rising from the ashes of my former life.  I feel like a newborn at times, like an impossibly old woman at others.

A few weeks ago, I shared some pictures of myself here.  They weren’t flattering pictures, but there was something so freeing about putting them out there.  So empowering.  After baring so much of my soul during the course of my recovery, my divorce, and my fresh start, I was shocked to discover that posting those pictures felt like the most intimate, most personal thing I have ever shared.  I felt naked. But I felt good about it.

At first, the comments were great.  So supportive.  Then came the others, all from the same person.

I don’t blame you for being afraid to show these.  Your disgusting and you should be ashamed of yourself.

You shouldn’t show these pictures to anyone.  In fact, you shouldn’t show your fat, disgusting face at all.

I’m not surprised your divorced. Why would anyone stay with an obnoxious pig like you?

I had always vowed that I would approve any comments left on my blog, that I wouldn’t be the kind of blogger who only allows the positive ones to be seen.  But I just couldn’t do it this time.

She kept at it.

I don’t know why you post stuff like this.  Nobody wants to see your pictures.  Nobody cares what you have to say.  God you are such a loser.  Why don’t you just delete your pictures so we don’t have to look at your ugly face any more?  While you’re at it, you should delete your whole blog and your stupid books too because nobody wants to read those.  Just delete yourself you fat fucking sow.  Nobody will miss your sorry ass.

Today, that same person attacked me and another person in the writing forums.  I’ve edited out all references to the other person to protect her identity.

Stop being a smartass all the time and thinking you are better than everyone else. Go away and strive to be an acceptable human being before you post again.

—NEWS FLASH—
Lots of people think . . . you behave repulsively and wish you would go away. . . you are the one’s trolling this site so why don’t you go and take a good look at your behavior and be as disgusted as the rest of us. . . .  facts are facts and you behave horribly.

Big AL – Please shut up. I said please, that must count for something. You started this . . . by being supercilious, obnoxious and high-handed, so don’t try to blame anyone else.

“Big Al.”  Because I go by my initials in the forums: A.L.  Big Al.  Another  “joke” about my being fat?

I shouldn’t let the vicious, childish words of one person bother me.

I am forty-eight years old.  I have three wonderful children.  I have an ex-husband who is still one of my best friends.  In the past year, I have published three books that all have decent reviews.

I survived injuries in an accident that would have killed most people, and I have fought my way back against challenges that I never could have imagined, including a battle with depression that has pushed me to the brink of suicide on more than one occasion.  I have hit rock bottom more times than I can count, and I have the gravel in my ass to prove it.

I am a survivor.

I have gone through Hell and back, and it’s a round trip I never could have made without the support and friendship of the incredible people in my life.  My friends, my family, the followers of my blog who take the time to leave encouraging words in the comments.  I may not always be good about answering, but I always draw strength from you.

In the past few years, I have come to believe that there is far more good in this world than bad.  Somehow, walking through fire has made me an optimist.

So why does this hurt so much?

Right now, I am the six year-old little girl biting my lip and doing my damnedest not to cry.    I can’t seem to “toughen up” or “let it roll off like water off a duck’s back.”  Tonight, I am tired and hurt and alone. That’s right, I’m defeated by a bunch of fat jokes.

Childish, but there it is.

Tomorrow, I’ll wake up and limp to the kitchen for my pain meds and my coffee.  I’ll stretch and try to get all the parts in working order before my kids wake up, because I can’t bear for them to see how much pain I face on a daily basis.  Then I’ll face them with a smile, and I’ll thank God for their beautiful faces, and for the strength He gave me to survive to see those faces every day.

Tomorrow, I’ll be able to snap back into never-let-them-see-me-cry mode.  I’ll put this all into perspective, and I’ll look at my tormentor with fresh eyes. I’ll see her for the childish little twat she is, and I’ll be able to understand that she is the one with the problem, not me.  I’ll be able to shrug it all off.

Tomorrow, I’ll be able to see the humor in the fact that my tormenter has a blog about fighting bullies and cyber-crimes.  I’ll laugh about the anti-bullying book she is writing even as she drowns in her own hypocrisy, and I’ll be able to remember that I am the adult here – the adult with a very full life with so many wonderful people, so much to be thankful for.

Tonight . . . tonight, I’m going to have a good cry.

Tonight, I’m crying for all of it:  the car accident, the lost career, the pain, the humiliation, the divorce, the struggle to pay my bills . . . most of all, I’m crying for all of us who once learned not to cry.

UPDATE:  Just wanted to share a new comment from the barrage of messages still coming in from the same person:

You think your all the shit but your book bombed! Hahaha I cracked up so hard!  After you hyped yourself up, your dumbass book bombed!  Do us all a favor and STOP WRITING.  Don’t you get it?  YOU HAVE NO TALENT.

Wow.

Milestones

I’ve passed an awful lot of milestones in the past few weeks.  My two-hundredth post.  My second anniversary on WordPress.  The anniversary of the day my marriage ended.

Oh, and I published my second book.

Sort of.

First things first.  I started blogging because I wanted to get into the habit of writing on a regular basis.  I wanted to stretch my writing muscles, so to speak.  Treat myself as a professional so that others would do the same.  I promised myself it wouldn’t become a Writing Blog, because only other writers read Writing Blogs, and other writers aren’t my target audience.

That went out the window pretty quickly.  Although this still isn’t truly a writing blog, and I write about a variety of subjects other than writing, I have to say that I like other writers.  They encourage me.  They build me up.  They push me when I need a push and offer words of sympathy when I’ve been pushed too hard.   In short, they know what I’m going through.  Either that, or they know they will someday go through what I’m going through, and that scares the hell out of them.

I’ve gotten a little cocky about my blog.  I’ll admit it; sometimes I can get pretty full of myself.  Sorry about that.  There’s something intoxicating about gaining followers and getting “likes” or even comments from people I don’t know.  The first time I saw one of my blog posts shared on the Facebook page of someone I’d never met, I very nearly peed myself out of sheer excitement.

Well, that’s not saying much, actually.  I’m a middle-aged woman who gave birth to three 10-pound children. I pee myself over just about anything at this point.

At any rate, I can’t believe I have stuck with this for two whole years or that I’ve managed to write two hundred posts.  And even more than that, I can’t believe people have actually read those two hundred posts!

If I’m going to be perfectly honest with myself, I know that about 20% of my blog’s followers are spammers.  Either that or my blog is really popular in Indonesia.

My friends, neighbors, and family make comments about my blog, wondering if they are going to show up in it.  When I recently mentioned my daughter’s boyfriend, I overheard her telling him that he would soon have a nickname on the blog as well (I’m thinking about Prince Charming, but still working on it).  When the local librarian asks me to speak at an author’s night, or the grocery store clerk calls out across the store that she loved my book, I start to think of myself as a celebrity.  I start strutting.

Believe me, you haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen a short, fat woman with a crooked neck strut.  It is truly a sight to behold.

Then it becomes a sight one tries desperately to forget.

Then there’s the whole divorce thing.  He’s a good man, I don’t hate him, and we are both different people than we were one year ago.  It’s been an awful year and a great year, and that’s all I’m going to say about that.

Of course, now I have to think about dating.  Then I have to think about the whole short, fat, crooked neck strutting business again, and I get so nervous and excited that I have to pee, so I don’t think I’m ready to worry about dating just yet.  Honestly, I’m not sure my bladder is up to the challenge.

And I wrote another book.

That’s huge.  I’m so damned excited I think I could just – oh, never mind.

Two years ago, I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to finish my first book.  I didn’t know then that I was going to take a shot at self-publishing or turn my little book into a series.    I had no idea I was going to learn as much as I have learned.

Now for the “sort of” part.

I put His Heart Aflame up as a pre-order through Amazon and Draft2Digital.  What that means is that I am very happy with it just as it is BUT . . . .I want to give myself a little wiggle room for proofreading and editing before I actually publish it.  I have until midnight on December 9 to upload any last-minute changes.  After that, it is out of my hands until December 20, when it will be released for Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iBooks, and more.

As I go back over it, I keep finding little things to fix.  Like the fact that I kept writing “four-poster be” instead of “four-poster bed.”  Every single time.  I don’t know why, but at least I’m consistent.

Or the fact that I decided that Ethan, from Her House Divided, needs to be more involved with this book.  And I can’t believe I never mentioned the nosy, busybody Hyde sisters!  Oh, no, no – characters that are that much fun simply must make an appearance, no matter how brief.

And when I’m done, really really done with it, it will be time to start Book #3 in my Beach Haven series.

Right after I take a pee break.

Or two.

BBA or Not BBA?

When I was a kid, one of my favorite authors was a woman named M.V. Carey.    She was the only female writer on the list of professionals writing for the Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators series that I loved so much, and she inspired me more than any other writer at that point in my life.  In fact, the pen name I have chosen for myself is sort of an homage to her.

I wrote her a letter once, asking her a lot of silly questions and giving her all kinds of suggestions for storylines that involved abusing my favorite character, Pete.   And she actually answered my letter!  I don’t remember the specifics of her response, but I remember that it was kind and gracious and oh-so-encouraging.

Fast forward nearly forty years.  I am an author now.  Not a hugely successful one by any means, but an author all the same.  Over the years, I’ve contacted other writers via email, and I still get that same fangirly rush when I hear back from them.  I can hardly believe it when writers like Jasinda Wilder and Nancy Gideon take the time out of their busy schedules to answer questions and offer encouragement to a nobody like me!

Let me confess right here:  I actually cried for a minute or two when Nancy Gideon started following me on Twitter.

Yes, I get emotional like that sometimes.

Basically, I’ve been spoiled.  Up until recently, my interactions with other writers have been overwhelmingly positive.  I’ve been proud to call myself a writer.  It was a huge step for me to go from “I want to be a writer” or “I’m trying to be a writer” to “I am a writer.”

Right now, I’m not so proud of the writing community.

Maybe it’s because of the immediacy of the internet; maybe it’s because of the politically-correct positive-reinforcement brainwashing that has tried to convince us that we are all wonderful.  Perhaps it’s because not all of us have examples like Carey, Wilder, and Gideon.

Whatever the reason, there are a lot of authors out there who need a visit from the Reality Fairy.  They’re referred to as BBA’s, or Badly Behaving Authors, and they are an embarrassment to the rest of us.  Upon getting a bad review, they whine, complain and cry about cyber bullying or harassment or the unfairness of life in general.   They rage against reviewers and book bloggers with accusations and threats that are sometimes laughably over the top.

Like me, some authors are also bloggers.  And in recent weeks, they’ve been coming out in droves to throw in their two cents’ worth in certain high-profile situations involving authors and reviewers, most notably the Kathleen Hale/Blythe Harris kerfuffle.  Everyone’s got an opinion, no matter how ill-informed; everyone’s got to jump right up on that bandwagon.

Several book bloggers have joined forces this week in a blogging blackout.  In other words, they are taking the week off from reviewing new books in their blogs.  Bloggers all over the place are standing up to join forces or to criticize the effort.

My first impulse?  Move over; make room for me on that bandwagon!  Sure, I’ll take a week off to show solidarity.

But . . .

I’m not a book blogger.  My joining them would be meaningless because I don’t use my blog to review books, and because I often go weeks without a new post anyway.  Going a week without reviewing a new book in my blog is sort of the status quo.

The world isn’t exactly going to tremble in response to my saying that I want to be part of a blogging blackout.  My joining in at this point would, in a sense, minimize the efforts of those who really do have a stake in this.

I don’t know what’s true and what’s been exaggerated out of proportion about BBA’s like Kathleen Hale or Maggie Spence..  But I do know that the authors I admire, the authors I respect, the authors who have inspired and encouraged me . . . well, they don’t answer their reviewers on Amazon.  They don’t argue with book bloggers who don’t like their work.  They don’t write tell-all articles for The Guardian about the time they stalked a reviewer.  They don’t complain about being cyber-bullied or harassed.

They don’t show up in articles about Badly Behaving Authors.

They write.  They write books, and they act with dignity in the face of the occasional bad review or criticism.  They treat fans and detractors alike with equal grace and courtesy.

They act like grown-ups.

I’ve written two books, with a third one almost finished.  They aren’t perfect; I still have a lot to learn.  Of course, I want to “make it big” and be remembered as a great author!  But if people are talking about me twenty years from now, or even fifty years from now, I want them to talk about my books, not my behavior.  I want to be remembered because I made people laugh or cry with my words, not because I acted like an ass in response to criticism.

And since I just got my first 1-star review, I guess it’s time to find some Toblerone and go practice what I preach.

Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For

Since my last several posts have been somewhat dark and depressing, I have decided to lighten up a little bit today.  I’m going to try something I have seen others bloggers do but have never tried myself. I’m going to look at some of the oddest search terms that people have used to find their way to my blog.

People keep finding me while searching for wrestler AJ Lee.  But they aren’t just searching for her name.  They look for “AJ Lee ass,”” AJ Lee boobs,” “AJ Lee string,” ”AJ Lee bikini boobs,” and so on.  If anyone reading this blog wants to assume that I look anything like AJ Lee, please feel free to do so.  You will be disappointed if we ever meet face-to-face, but fantasize all you like.

I’m not sure if these searches end up here because of the “AJ” or because I mentioned Ms. Lee in one post when I talked about the fact that my pen name used to be AJ Lee back in the 1980’s, but I changed it when the other one became so famous.

The word “boobs” seems to bring a lot of people to my blog as well, along with a few interesting variations: “Chi chi boobies,” “chi chis,” “hooters,” “oh my boobies” and my personal favorite, “boobies goo.” What in the hell was that guy looking for?

I’ve written a couple of posts about fanfiction; specifically, I explored the unsettling trends of Real Person Fiction and something called “whumpage,” which explains search terms like “big time rush fanfiction kidnap” or “criminal minds fanfiction Reid suffered.”  But I’m seriously creeped out by the fact that people are coming to my blog after searching for terms liker5 incest,” “ross lynch gay fantasy” or “whipping boy whump tumblr pic.”  And let’s not forget about “emma watson gives tom felton a blow job backstage.”

And while I’m being seriously creeped out, what is up with the people looking for sexual stories about an aunt?  Is this some kind of fetish of which I have been unaware?  “I fucked my sleeping aunt when I was a kid story,”  and “True to life stories my bored aunt give me a handjob and blowjob while im asleep.”

Say it with me now:  Ewww.

If you are finding my blog while looking for these terms, just move along.  Better yet, stop looking for these terms.  Get help.

Randolph Mantooth and his character Johnny Gage show up fairly often in my list of search terms.  I understand that.  I’ve had a crush on him since I was about six years old, so I talk about him here almost as much as I talk about Toblerone.  Which, surprisingly, has never brought a single person to my blog.

No less than five people have found me by searching for “whippoorwill’s ass.”  Seriously.

Some of the searches have been oddly specific:  “what was the name of the candy store in Saugatuck” and “Armstrong farm, corners of M-43 & M-40.”

I’m gratified to see just how many times people have found my blog because they are actually looking for it.  “AJGoode,” “A Good One,” “Her House Divided,” and so on.  That’s a bit of a relief, actually, although a good chunk of those searches were probably done by people I know who wanted to find out if I ever mention them in my blog.

Yes, ObnoxioMom, I still talk about you.  Now go put a normal football helmet on your son with the unique head and stop trying to figure out if I ever mention your real name.  I don’t.

I’m mystified that people have found my blog when searching for “ass.”  Just the one word, all by itself.  Ass.  Not “Great ass,” although “Bigass” is understandable and has brought in many a searcher, thanks to my post about living in The Land of Bigass Denial.  Not even “AJ Goode is acting like an ass,” which I could take in stride because sometimes I do indeed act like an ass.  It’s one of my charms.

The search for “gaysex bringasan” has me baffled.  What, exactly, was this person looking for and why did they end up here?  “Raccoon coffee” is another odd one, as is “red letter days wolfman.” I have no idea what to make of “my husband airs our dirty laundry to our mutual friends.”   What about “silhouette by a dumpster and “fat person short hair?   Did that last one pop up under “images” with my profile picture?  If so, it’s time to grow the hair out, but only because that’s so much easier than losing weight.

I have to wonder how some of the people feel when their searches bring them here.  I mean, if someone is looking for “written smoking erotica” or “sex stories/mommy incest stories” and they end up on my Mother’s Day letter to my mother, there’s got to be a certain level of disappointment.

I don’t want to know about the ones looking for “whippoorwill’s ass.” I really don’t.

Blogging Goals for 2014

My blogging goals for this year are pretty simple.

  1. Be more consistent.  Right now, there are weeks when I blog every day and there are weeks that I skip entirely.  This year, I want to blog three times per week:  Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  Of course, that may have to change when I find a job and have to adapt my writing schedule around my work schedule.
  2. Narrow the focus of my blog.  Right now, it bounces around from Humor to Nostalgia to Divorce to Writing to rants on fanfiction.  I need to decide just exactly what kind of blog I want to write, and stick with that.
  3. Participate more.  There are some great bloggers out there, but I’ve missed out on a lot of them because I get so caught up in my own world.  I need to seek out other writers, comment on their blogs, and learn from them.
  4. Learn.  I have so much to learn about becoming a better blogger and about reaching a bigger audience.
  5. Have fun.  Right now, I have over seven hundred followers.  That’s seven hundred people who want to read what I have to say.  That’s not great compared to some bloggers, but I think it’s pretty awesome for me.  What a tremendous opportunity to reach out and make people laugh or cry or just go “huh”!

And so, to all of my fellow bloggers out there, I wish you a Happy New Year and Happy Blogging!  What are some of your goals for 2014?

Old 100, Sing!

This is supposed to be my one-hundredth post, full of deep thoughts and introspection.  It’s supposed to flow easily and be a lot of fun to write; like donofalltrades’ recent words about his one-hundredth post, this was meant to be my chance to thank people, reflect upon what I’ve learned, and perhaps shine some light on some of my earlier, unnoticed posts.

Yeah, it’s not working out that way. IMG_20130711_071647

I have plenty of help. Minnie the cat tried to help me type.  Unfortunately, while I was busy reaching for the camera to take this adorable picture, she somehow stepped on some key somewhere that opened up some strange features on my Netbook.  I could no longer type anything because every key I touched sent me into boxes labeled Research or Table of Contents.

After battling  with this for a good half-hour, I finally gave up and re-started the computer. That solved the problem.  Unfortunately, just as I was ready to start writing, having poured a fresh mug of nice, hot coffee, my computer shut down so it could update itself.

While waiting, I got out my tablet, thinking that I could start my rough draft there.  At which point I discovered that my youngest child had left a game running on my tablet all night long – really, there’s a game for exploding chickens?! – so the battery was nearly dead.

I reached for the old-fashioned notebook and pen, only to realize that there is not one working pen anywhere in my home.  Not one.  Could someone please explain to me why we keep non-working pens?  Are we the only family to have a kitchen drawer full of pens that have no ink?

It was at this point that I seriously contemplated putting a shot of whiskey into my fourth cup of coffee, but decided against it because I may need to drive to the store for chocolate in the very near future if things don’t start looking up.  Besides,  the Netbook had finished playing with itself by this time, and the very first thing I saw was an email from a friend asking me if I knew that my family’s favorite TV show had been cancelled.

Sue me, but I love Good Luck Charlie.  At a time when Disney shows were all about popstars with secret identities, or wizards in training in a secret lair, GLC was an astonishingly normal show about people we could relate to.  There were older, nearly-grown kids and a “bonus” baby, just like in our family.  Some of the situations were a little silly, but it was consistently funny and heartwarming, and it was just about the only show that we could all watch together.  It wasn’t dumbed-down for the kids, and it didn’t have sly raunchy jokes for the parents.

And it had Eric Allan Kramer as one of the best TV Dads ever.

He may not be one of the most well-known actors, but he is second only to Randolph Mantooth in my own personal fantasy world.  Mantooth wins by default because I have adored him for so much longer, but Kramer gets bonus point for being a fellow Michigander.  And for having a great smile.  And for being so darned big and handsome.

Besides, he was the Skipper in a Gilligan’s Island remake and he wasn’t afraid to pour that great big body into tights for the movie Men inTights.  I even remember seeing him as a motorcycle bully in an episode of Wings.   The man has no fear.  And he had the perfect onscreen chemistry with his GLC wife, Leigh-Allyn Baker.  Together, the two of them reminded me of a more attractive, less profane version of my husband and me.

I just figured out how to follow both of them on Twitter, and I’m feeling a little bit like a stalker.  Of course, I follow other celebrities too:  Jasinda Wilder, Nancy Gideon, Randolph Mantooth, and others.  But Kramer is definitely more chatty than the others and he just seems so darned nice.

If he showed up on my doorstep with a Toblerone, he would be the perfect man.

Sorry, Randy Mantooth.

So this is my one-hundredth post:  disjointed ramblings about a kitten on my computer, exploding chickens, and the cancellation of a Disney show.  I started blogging to practice discipline in writing, and to help me deal with recovery from a horrific car accident.  I have written about everything from Angelina Jolie’s boobs to fanfiction to flushing toilets in a power outage.  I’ve re-lived my accident and mourned my father and made fun of my own lack of filters.

Overall, I’ve had fun.  And I’m honored that so many of you have allowed me to share my thoughts and experiences with you. Since I’ve written about ADHD being one of my big challenges in life, I think that this particular post is the perfect summation of what my blog has been all about for the ninety-nine posts that came before it:   A little bit of this, a little bit of that, and a whole lot of oooh, shiny!

And it’s got Eric Allan Kramer in it.