Youngblood Blog

Writing weblog, local, topical, personal, spiritual

Those Who Do and Those Who Don’t

Monthly IWSG

Is the human brain ready to be hot-wired to the Internet?

I know a lot of Alex’s Insecure Writers—IWSG—don’t plug into the Facebook scene; perhaps consider the social network game a little too time-consuming [?], when there are queries, edits, pitches and contests to prepare for. After all, the writer’s day is never long enough, is it? And think of how many words we might punch in on the keyboard during the (lost) time it takes to tweet!

Oh, I know we can’t all be like Amanda Hocking, who seems to have written everything online; tweets incessantly, even holds meetings on Twitter, and yet still manages to churn out several e-books per year.

So it got me to thinking about this new ‘instant’ form of communication and how it affects our lives: nay, how it splits us—into expiration dates: those who do and those who don’t—and into media groups: ditto.

I did feel grossly insecure after my first attempts with Smashwords —my March self-publish post for Alex’s IWSG. MSWord not being my favorite program, and with no Apple-friendly interface on offer by that self-publisher, I felt that ancient tweak of ‘fear-in-the-forest’, that feeling of being a stranger in a totally alien landscape (I held myself back there from quoting Robert Heinlein! but give me a moment). We all go through nerves with a new communications tool. Realizing that the old ways are still in there competing with the “new”, I figured I had to find a way around my nerves, because in the world of Big Publishing, MSWord isn’t seen as the code-cluttered behemoth viewed by Macintosh-lovers; it is just the program the industry grew up around; Competitions (Dundee Book Prize, Hay House Visions Contest) assume you know how to use it; so I have learned to live with it—until the next change comes along.

Also, I was never any good with the telephone: there—I’ve said it. I somehow managed to navigate through the recent high waves of multiple-choice cell phone packages and NOT become a cell-user. True to my writerly reclusiveness, I barely answer the landline—I use my laptop for all of the stuff people used to handle on the phone—but I’m reduced to jelly inside, when offered a new iPad or iPhone to try out. I am just getting the hang of the Apple tablet, but the swiping and sweeping motions on the little iPhone still leave me stunned.

It didn’t help that in betweentimes I foolishly asked the local Apple Emporium to back up my old writerly projects: articles, magazine interviews, my non-fiction titles, history, book etc., only to discover I’d left it too late and most of my SCSI drives (eat your heart out, anyone who understands me here) were obsolete. How about that for a dip in the insecurity pool?

Believe me, I know how boring this sounds to people who text and communicate all the time with friends and family; I even found myself irritated with poor old Ken Carey, author of all-time bestseller ‘Return of the Bird Tribes’ (Harper, 1991) who had such a hard time setting up his new website—twenty years after he published his seminal works in the 1980s-1990s—that his first months’ comments were almost exclusively on whether posts got ‘thru’ or not. Then his struggles reminded me of the early internet years, where netiquette (no CAPS SHOUTING, personal anonymity) seemed more important than getting the message across; and I became more compassionate towards him and his/my generation.

Bottom line: much of what is happening now—people deleting their Facebook profiles for fear of the newly-publicly-owned-and-listed company selling their private information—is part of yet another ongoing trend which is pulling us closer to our Omega Point, the symbiosis of man and machine, foretold by Terence McKenna before he died in 2000.

“The Universe is an evolving system of habits”
Terence McKenna

So, our comfort zone may move—not a lot; habitual patterns take time to form—but in five years we shall, it seems, be communicating exclusively electronically (and perhaps silently), and I suspect that, sadly, it will also separate the men from the boys; oh how I hate to be ageist: but there will be those that do and those that (er, teach) don’t. And I suspect I may even fall into the latter category, unless I get my mind speedily around the concept of cells, GPS, bluetooth(s) and the need for instant (communicative) gratification.

Jubilee recalls ancient tradition: instant media coverage captures the last of the dinosaurs in world imagination

Or should I lay aside my insecurity and look at it another way? perhaps I already qualify. I am certainly old; not as aged as HM the Queen, 86, or Prince Philip, 90; but it is a miracle I’ve kept pace with electronica through the last decade’s changes; I love my laptop and, as a writer, I might just make it through the next series of electronic hoops and into the Era of Bionic Man; because, wait for it, the writer/author has always been psyched up to be patient. Big House publishing is not going to catch on to this nouvelle vague and become electronic overnight: some publishers still do not accept MSS, except through the post. I can certainly learn to live without Facebook and Twitter. And, because McKenna was adamant that the Universe has purpose towards hyper-complexification, or advanced organization, and is speeding up all the time; I might even be ahead of the game, outlive the Mac-PC incompatibility, and see my internet tinkering as a bonus, rather than a liability. When they wheel out the dinosaurs and number off according to bionic accoutrements, I might still qualify: I already have wifi, have halved the size of computing screen and diminished my keyboard by one third. My hearing aid [don’t ask: 1960s rock music too close to the speakers] already serves as bluetooth; so all I need is a bionic implant to wire me to the ethers, and I’ll be set for 2020.

Did I mention age as my main insecurity? Woody Allen had a different idea:

“I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work; I want to achieve immortality through not-dying”
Woody Allen

And, thank you again, Alex, for being such a role-model, and for letting me ramble. I know your book launch was a success. Your CassaStorm will be, too.
©2012 Marian Youngblood

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June 6, 2012 Posted by | authors, blogging, culture, publishing, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Crazy Cozy Spoof Pitch

Blogfest Crazy Cozy contest to celebrate Alyse’s launch

My friend and fellow author Hart Johnson (Tami Hart) is celebrating today because she has been officially launched~ as new “name” Alyse Carlson in the wide world of readers of cozy mysteries. Her Azalea Assault is published today by Berkley Press. Yet, true to form, she isn’t crowing from the rooftops about her newfound fame, but is sharing the honor with her friend and (longer-term) professional author Elizabeth Spann Craig, who also launches today, though not for the first time: her new Quilt or Innocence is released today by Signet.

So it is not surprising that some of us were asked to make the occasion a little more crazy (than it already was, and it is jolly: see other participating pretenders) by sharing in a Crazy Cozy Spoof Pitch: setting out the bones of a Cozy Mystery and letting the authors choose the zaniest.

So here’s mine—all apologies for uproarious laughter or convulsions subsequently induced—accepted.

CRAZY COZY SPOOF PITCH:
Protagonist: My detective is an amateur crop circle photographer, Colin, camping overnight with his girlfriend and accidental witnesses to what they believe is the manifestation of a light orb in the making of a crop circle.

Sidekick: his girlfriend, the lovely Linda; who has ideas of her own about who is making the patterns in the cornfields.

Manton Drove crop circle June 2nd, 2012, first CC in barley: “all the Cees”

Theme: you guessed it—the crop circle season has begun! endless imaginary designs conjured up to keep the croppies hoppy! er, happy.

Victim #1 and Victim #2: found together next morning in the middle of a newly-formed crop pattern: #1 is local rope-&-plank circlemaker Dave, known to brag about his alien connections; #2 is the lifeless corpse of a small, gray large-lidded alien. Their bodies are aligned to face an ancient burial cairn and passage grave on the distant horizon.

Killer: Locals suspect Dave’s partner Doug had been jealous of his partner’s ability to make board-and-stomp patterns in the wheat better than him; but when more “alien” circles start to arrive and they know they didn’t make them, they decide to split up and see what’s going on.

Aliens making crop circles? who would’ve thunk it?

But our trusty sleuth and the dedicated Linda have other ideas, when they camp out the following night and witness another ball of light descend and pick up the gray body, deliberately left to see if they could film any developments…

aha: the culprit… or do their eyes deceive them…?

Oh, yes: The real killer is the driver of the second “light orb” ship, who thought by sacrificing his colleague and the earthling, they would learn more about Earth jealousies. After all, they have full capability aboard to resuscitate his co-pilot and resume their mission…
©2012 Marian Youngblood

…and a postscriptum for the serious matter of the day:
If, by now, you haven’t figured out what a Cozy Mystery is—think Daphne duMaurier, Agatha Christie, rather than Blade Runner, Alien Resurrection—if you see what I mean…

And it may interest you, bloghop reader, to know that even Alyse’s publisher, Berkley, knows that she’s loopy; because this is their cover blurb for her:

“Alyse Carlson is the pen name for Hart Johnson who writes books from her bathtub. By day she is an academic researcher at a large midwestern university. She lives with her husband, two teenage children and two fur balls. The dust bunnies don’t count. This will be her first published book.”

Don’t you just love it? How can she fail? Go, Hart: woot woot.
Lots of love.

Azalea Assault is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other good book stores, June 5th.

June 5, 2012 Posted by | authors, blogging, crop circles, fantasy, fiction, novel, publishing, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments