A Few Things You Need to Know About Me #MondayBlogs

Hello, dear Reader, and Happy Monday (or whatever day upon which you are reading this).  I thought it would be good to share a few things you should know about me.  Now, if you’ve been following my blog for a long time, maybe these items won’t surprise you.  If you’re new to my blog, these items might make or break whether you ever come back.  Such is life.  I do try.

What you should know:

  1.  I’m in the process of knitting a baby set (sweater, hat, and blanket) for a dear friend’s daughter-in-law.  The baby shower is in a couple of weeks.  I started knitting today so my fingers need to fly on the needles, not the keyboard.
  2. As I’ve closed some social media accounts (Tumblr, LinkedIn, Instagram), my presence on others is rather spotty. You might say random.  I don’t know when I’m going to show up on Facebook or Twitter or even WordPress. So if you see me and think to message me, don’t be surprised if your message seems to fall into a black hole.  I’ll try to get back to you, but lately when I do jump off social media, I don’t return for many hours, sometimes even a whole day … or two.
  3. I’ve been reading more.  I finally finished Kingsolver’s Lacuna and started reading Gulp by Mary Roach.  I’ve been having some intestinal troubles lately and think her book might be as informative (or more) as a visit to my doctor.  I’ve also been reading essays in Harper’s and Poets and Writers and Creative Nonfiction.  When I’m reading this much, I’m writing very little.  And yet I feel like I’m writing because these are essays that make me think about writing.
  4. I’m learning a new web-based reporting system at work which is interesting and actually stimulates my little gray cells enough that I sometimes forget about blogging, checking email and other things.
  5. I will be continuing this blog for the foreseeable future. I have plenty of posts in my head; it’s just finding the time to sit down and write them.  For those who know me very well, I don’t like writing off the cuff, as I’m doing with this post.  So Time is important. I try.

I just need to try a little bit harder.

My New Mantra: “I’m Too Old For This” #MondayBlogs #2old4this

As too many of you know, I struggle with keeping up with social media.  I often feel overwhelmed with the tsunami of memes, messages, Likes, Invites, and other cacophonous clatter that greets me whenever I go to the feed of my Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Tumblr, Google+ accounts.  (Strangely I don’t feel that way when I go to the Reader on WordPress.)  I often think to myself, “I’m too old for this.”  Now I do have some friends older than me who seem to manage their social media threads with grace.  I don’t care.  I still feel “too old” for this.

In yesterday’s Sunday New York Times, Dominique Browning expressed in the most clear (and enviable) prose what I’ve been feeling and why I should embrace that feeling.  In her essay, I’m Too Old for This, Browning celebrates the psychological benefits of getting older, of being able to let go:

The key to life is resilience, and I’m old enough to make such a bald statement. We will always be knocked down. It’s the getting up that counts. By the time you reach upper middle age, you have started over, and over again.

Browning focuses for a bit on women’s perception of their own beauty (or their perception of their lack of beauty) over time.  Until recently, I hated nearly everything about my body:  I’m overweight.  I have fat ankles.  I want straight hair, not hair that waves with a mind of its own.  My skin still breaks out and I’m two years shy of sixty.  Brown advises that we simply reach for the larger sized pants in the closet, the ones we wisely did not give up to Goodwill, and be thankful that we have healthy bodies.  I do try to be thankful even if some of my body likes to roll over the waistband of my yoga pants.

There is a certain freedom in being able to say, “I’m too old for this.”  At my workplace, the atmosphere can be toxic with everyone overworked and each effort to get work done being second-guessed by the politically motivated.  I feel too old for this.  I’ve seen it and heard it all before.  Sometimes I feel like I’m living Groundhog Day every day, except I get the weekends off.  I’m too old for this.

I’m too old to worry myself about social media. If I close my LinkedIn account, will anyone notice?  If I close my Tumblr account, will anyone notice?  If I close my Google+ account, will anyone notice?  More importantly, will I notice?

Now I can spot trouble 10 feet away (believe me, this is a big improvement), and I can say to myself: Too old for this. I spare myself a great deal of suffering, and as we all know, there is plenty of that to be had without looking for more.

I have unwittingly gotten into “trouble” because I was casting about, trying to be involved in an milieu that is better suited to people with short-term attention spans as well as long-term memory loss.  I’m definitely too old to engage in social media dust-ups, innocently or not.

But I do enjoy my blog, particularly the environment created by my blogging community.  It feels like a safe place.  I can be myself knowing that if people don’t like me they simply won’t follow me and that will be the end of that.  And I feel less fragmented when I’m here.

So when I think I’m too old for this, in the context of my writing and blogging, I know that it’s the fragmentation that I struggle with and that I need to correct.  Let’s see if anyone notices when I do.

By the way, Dominique Browning was wrong about one thing:  being too old to have green hair.  Take it from me.  One is never too old to have green, blue, pink, or purple hair.

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To Be Continued …

Hello, dear Reader, and you may wonder what the heck the title of my post can possibly mean.  Well, I have a confession explanation.  I don’t have a post to post today.  I’ve spent the weekend working on a course that I’m taking with my friend and fellow blogger, Luanne.  It’s an online creative nonfiction course, only 4 weeks long but chocked full of readings.  It’s focused on the “flash essay,” a nonfiction work of 500-750 words.  Yes, I know.  A few months ago it was poetry and now I’m trying another genre.  Am I procrastinating?  Damn right I am but at least I’m learning something in the process.

I’m also thinking about changing my blogging schedule to Wednesdays or maybe Fridays.  I have less time during the work week to spend on my blog and other social media.  So stay tuned if you will and I’ll sort things out eventually.

In the meantime, here’s a gratuitous cat photo, that of Wendy, our rescue from … well, Wendy’s.  This is her favorite spot on our back porch.  We recently purchased new patio furniture but knew we would have to keep this old chair for Wendy.

Wendy stretching her legs.

Wendy stretching her legs.

See y’all next week 🙂

A Different Kind of Review: Kindness Wins by Galit Breen

I’m on a roll, dear Reader.  Two different kinds of review in two weeks!  Amazing what a few days away from the day job can do for a writer.  My vacation has not been all writing and reading, as I’ve been fairly absent from social media.  We took a brief road trip.  More about that later.  For now, I want to share a review of Kindness Wins by Galit Breen.  This is a very important book for anyone engaged in social media.  I don’t have kids, but I loved this book.  I hope you enjoy the review.

***

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Brittany giggled when she saw the photo Lucy had posted to Instagram.  In the photo, the two of them were sitting on an sandy spit in the middle of the creek, their long hair whipped around their shoulders, the sunlight making sparkles on their wet faces.  It had been an oppressively hot day, and the two girls had played in the shallow creek like toddlers, splashing each other and getting soaking wet.  They were happy, and they were laughing as Lucy took the selfie.

Brittany clicked Like and started to write a comment when something caught her eye.  There, from a guy she barely knew, was a comment:  “What fatties you both are!  How gross!”

Brittany looked at the photo again.  Okay, their t-shirts were sticking to them and maybe the way they were sitting made them look like they had rolls of fat, but, really?  Why would anyone write something so nasty?  She wanted to blast him.  She wanted to tell him that he must be a miserable and lonely person to write something so mean.  But she stopped herself.

She glanced over at the book that Mary had given her a few days before.  It had been a birthday gift from the three widows–Mary, Melissa, and Maggie–along with her first iPhone.  She knew the cousins had misgivings about her developing an online presence.  They trusted her, but they didn’t trust other people.  Not after what Brittany had been through.

But, as Lucy had so well argued, it was time for Brittany to come into the 21st century.  She was almost 20 years old, the same age as Lucy, and she needed to reclaim her life, a life almost cut short by a man she once thought of as her father.  Lucy would help her.  She had read Kindness Wins and, truth be told, she was the one who had recommended it to the widows.  Brittany thought she should stop thinking of them that way, but it was too hard.  She just needed to make sure she never referred to them as “the widows” online.

Brittany picked up the book and leafed through it again.  She had read it in one sitting, and then flipped back and forth, considering the bulleted “takeaways” that the author, Galit Breen, had included at the end of each chapter.   She really enjoyed how the book was laid out, each chapter being a “habit” for a child to learn about being online, with reading resources, discussion points, and the takeaways at the end.  She knew so little about social media, she was almost embarrassed to admit it.  Lucy understood, though.  Lucy understood everything about her.

But what to do about the mean comment?  Brittany’s fingers itched to retort.  She felt that liking the photo and then saying nothing might send the message that she didn’t care, or that she thought the mean comment was okay.  Lucy would know better, but other people might not.  A sentence from Kindness Wins popped into Brittany’s head: “It doesn’t hurt to be kind.”  She didn’t feel she had the guts to take on the bully, but she didn’t have to hide either.

“What a fun day we had! That’s what counts <3”  Brittany hit Return.

Well, Brittany thought, the bully will probably roll his eyes at that but no matter.  She and Lucy could create a virtual storm of kindness that will drown out the meanest comment.  And if they practice what Kindness Wins preaches, maybe eventually the bullies will just go away.  Better yet, maybe they will become kind.

***

Dear Reader, this is just a snippet of what you would get out of Kindness Wins.  If you’re a parent, grandparent, babysitter, caregiver, teacher, aunt, uncle, cousin, friend of friends with children, you will want to read this book.  Breen has an engaging writing style.  I really appreciate her honesty in sharing her own experiences and her own mistakes.  Kindness Wins will definitely influence how I engage in social media from this point on.

For a great interview with Galit Breen, courtesy of Laura Zera, click here

Get your copy of Kindness Wins here from Amazon.

Not Too Late to Give Your Support

Help high fantasy author, the genius of Legends of Windemere, Charles Yallowitz, reach his goal of 100 supporters on Thunderclap! It’s so easy. Just click on the cute purple dragon and sign up!

Legends of Windemere

There’s still 11 days left to reach the goal of 100 supporters.  We’re at 44 and it’s been that way for the last 2 days.  So I ask again for people to click on the picture below and give their social media support for Legends of Windemere!

Also, please spread the word to others and let’s see if we can meet that October 4th goal.

By Kayla Matt By Kayla Matt

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Getting Real About Writer’s Burn Out and Social Media Demands

I have been going through what Cate has so neatly described in her post: I’m burned out. In my case, my day job has become more demanding which means: (1) I have less time during the work day to sneak-peak my blog, twitter, facebook, etc. and (2) I’m more often brain-drained by the time I get home. The idea of turning on my home computer is sometimes more than I can bear. So I’m taking much of Cate’s advice here: slowing down the blog, the social media, and making my life overall more manageable and fun. For me, when what I do is no longer fun (and that applies to my day job as well as blogging), then I need to stop and seriously consider what is wrong. Life is much too short to not be enjoying every minute of it. As much as I love my blogging and twitter community, I really don’t think that, on my deathbed, I will be wishing that I had blogged more 😉

My Top Facebook Tips for Authors

Some important tips for those of us struggling with Facebook Pages from Victoria Grefer.

Creative Writing with the Crimson League

As promised, after the success of My Top Ten Twitter Tips: Marketing for Writers, which a lot of people said they found helpful (I was so glad to hear that from y’all!), here is a post about using Facebook for promotion. For examples of a Facebook author page, you can check out my author fan page at https://www.facebook.com/greferauthor and the fan page for my first published novel, The Crimson League, at https://www.facebook.com/TheCrimsonLeague.

  1. CREATE A FAN PAGE AND PROMOTE IT ON ALL YOUR OTHER MEDIA OUTLETS. Author 101: Link it with your blog, your website. Tweet it. If you belong to the Independent Author Network, make sure it’s there. Everywhere you have an online presence, include it.
  2. CREATE ONLY ONE PAGE. I have two, as I said above: one for my first novel and one promoting me. It’s too much. It’s too much of a hassle to keep one…

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… if ye don’t like it, just switch it off… Life’s far too short to bother with daftness… #TBSU…

Another take on the joys of social media 🙂

Seumas Gallacher

…the miracle of the instantaneous communication world I’m now plugged into is that this ol’ Jurassic can hardly go to the washroom minus the Blackberry without feeling bereft… the immediacy of the 24/7 cable news channels tell me what’s going on, sometimes even before it goes on… keep me away from the laptop for any extended period …(…read ‘a very short passage of time’...)…  and withdrawal symptoms set in… I LUV being attached to all the periphery that comes with the Internet … I’m twinned with my Twitter… gorged with my Goodreads… facetious with my Facebook... licentious with my LinkedIn, and as ye can see, constantly blethering with my Blogging... in a WURD, enjoying… however, I’ve noted recently a wee wave of discontent in certain corners of the WEB... here, a murmur of ennui at receiving Re-Tweets that the Re-Tweetee didn’t Re-quire… there…

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Internet and Hyperconnectivity

My conversation with Rajiv on hyperconnectivity continues.  I began to comment and once again found myself going on at length.  Here’s part of my comment to Rajiv’s post:

“I’m starting to wonder if there is generational difference with hyperconnectivity.  I grew up without computers, without even remote-controlled TV (in fact, our first TV was black and white), without cell phones or even portable phones, etc.  So while I have jumped into the social media soup, I seem to be less inclined to drown in the broth of hyperconnectivity (sorry, it’s early, I’ve only had one cup of coffee so my brain is making up weird metaphors).  For example, with Facebook:  it’s been easy for me to stay “offline” so no one can chat with me and I do enjoy the feature of being able to “hide” the posts of certain “friends” so I am not sucked into interactions that I don’t want to be in.  Do you think there’s a generational difference here?  And, if you don’t mind, I think I’ll carry this over to my blog since my comment is (again) getting rather long :)”

I’m seeing more and more discussions about social media and how to manage various accounts and still get one’s work (writing) done.  It’s an issue that I would like to address more “professionally,” but, as seems to be more and more often, I have to wait until I have a nice chunk of uninterrupted time to put together a coherent post.

My kitchen is scheduled to be demolished tomorrow (Friday).  We’ll see how well I can write around that kind of chaos 🙂

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