If We Were Having Coffee 5


If we were having coffee, I’d tell you I have the awesomest sister in the whole world. If it weren’t for her, this blog wouldn’t exist and I’d never have gotten to know all the people I’ve met through blogging. She convinced me that if we worked together and found a few people to collaborate with, we could do something I’ve never been able to do in 10 years of trying. That we could be

One of the people in this photo is my awesome sister, but it's hard to tell which one because they are all in disguise.

One of the people in this photo is my awesome sister, but it’s hard to tell which one because they are all in disguise.

successful enough bloggers to not walk away in frustration after six months and go back to scribbling things in personal journals. She was right, and I’m glad I gave it one more try. So if you enjoy chatting with me or reading this blog, or if you’re a Sourcerer fan — even if you just follow one of our many ongoing features — you should stop by Part Time Monster tomorrow and tell her thanks on her coffee thread.

I’d tell you I’ve gotten behind on the networking again for the second week in a row. That happens to bloggers when the content runs low. I didn’t have much time to write last weekend, and I had a couple of pieces to run this week that just couldn’t wait. So I’ve been playing catch-up with the writing since last Sunday. On the plus side, I have nearly everyone who talks to me on the blogs bookmarked in a set of folders so that I can eventually visit about 50 blogs a week to read, comment, and share links on my other social media. It’s just that the writing schedule and the offline life have been a bit demanding of late.

I’d tell you that I’ve decided to go ahead and change the name of this blog to Just Gene’O. Rather than try and change it on all my social media at once, I’ve indicated in the tagline that I’m in the process of a name change. That’ll get me by for a week, and I haven’t finalized a permanent tagline, anyway.

coffee

And I’d tell  you that fall is bearing down on me already. Fall is hectic, and there are long periods during the fall when I don’t  have much blogging time. I have another month and a half at most to blog at the pace I’ve been going at this summer. At some point, I’m going to have to step off the accelerator until January. Then we’ll see how much of the progress we’ve made since March is real, and how much is about hitting news feeds two and three times per day consistently. However that turns out, it will give us valuable information about blogging. I may have discounted the importance of posting frequency when we first started out.

I’d also tell you that I have a couple long-term projects in the works. Neither will require a lot of time or effort. One of them is hidden in plain sight on the sidebar and labeled top secret because it tickles my funnybone to present it that way. The other one actually is top secret, but once it’s ready to roll, you will find out about it in a way that I hope you’ll find entertaining.

Then I’d ask how your week of blogging went.

(I’m taking a real break from blogging next weekend. It’s the 4th of July in the U.S. next Friday, and I’m spending most of that weekend with my family. What time I do have will go into networking and restocking the old content heap, I’m doubling up on the photoblogging next weekend and not publishing a single word after next Thursday. If you’re in the U.S., I’ll wish you a safe and happy Independence Day weekend in advance. But that’s a week away. We’ll have plenty of good blogging in the meantime.)

Advertisements

If We Were Having Coffee 4


If we were having coffee, I’d tell you the story of my wedding.

My wife, Vicki, is a bit older than me and we’ve known one another since 1993. We met when I was an undergraduate in college and she was working on her Master’s degree. We shared a house for awhile with another coffeefriend in the late 90s and eventually came to be best friends. I moved to Texas in 2000 and stayed there most of the year, then lived in Mobile, AL for awhile after that. The whole time I was gone, I called her, on average, at least twice a week.

We became romantic in 2003 and got married in the spring of 2004. Vicki initiated both the romance and the engagement, which is one of my favorite parts of the story. We chose May 13 as the day because Vicki’s grandparents were married on May 13, 1929.

We didn’t want to spend a ton of money on our wedding, and we didn’t want it to be a big production with everyone we knew looking on. We wanted it to be serious and intimate. Once we’d made the decision, we told our families we’d be getting married soon, but didn’t tell them the date. When the day arrived, we took Vicki’s daughter, who was already grown and married by that time, with us to be our flower girl and drove across the state line to Alabama. Mississippians elope to Alabama quite frequently. Alabama doesn’t require a blood test or a waiting period for a marriage license. In Alabama, you can walk into a courthouse with $50 and no appointment and walk out married half an hour later.

The courthouse scene is what makes this a story worthy of a writing blog. After we filled out the paperwork for the license, the clerk congratulated us and presented us with a care package. This was a small, white satin bag which contained the following items:

  • Travel-sized his and hers deodorant,
  • two disposable toothbrushes like the ones you get in hospitals,
  • a tiny tube of toothpaste,
  • some coupons (I forget what they were for), and
  • three condoms.

Amused as we were, we appreciated the thought. We had a long discussion on the drive home about what sort of situation prompted the Circuit Clerk of Washington County, Alabama to decide those care packages were necessary. We didn’t use the care items, but we kept the bag. Now it contains ten years’ worth of keepsakes from things we’ve done together – seashells from the beach, ticket stubs from plays we’ve seen, things like that.

The clerk went and told the judge we were there, and when he came out of his office, he was putting his portion of the marriage license fee in his coat pocket. We’ve always imagined that he spent it on lunch. He was very judgely, but friendly with a sense of humor. Just the sort of person you want to pronounce you married.

We went into the office and there was a bit of awkwardness for a minute while the judge figured out which one of the beautiful ladies accompanying me was the bride. Once that was sorted, we said the vows. It was solemn and it was sweet.

We went outside, took a few photos in front of the courthouse, then took the stepdaughter home and went out of town for a couple of days. After we called our mothers and told them we were married, of course. We had a small reception with just the family a few weeks later.

And after I told you that, I’d ask you how your week went.

😉

Weekend Edition – Creating More Than Just Art plus Writing Tips and Good Reads


This is such a great post I just have to share it for the Monday reblog.

Live to Write - Write to Live

On Being the Kind of Artist Who Creates More Than Just Art

Dad in my sister's childhood room - tearing it down to build it back up Dad renovating my sister’s childhood room

Untangling the influences on our reading and writing lives is like a kind of personal archaeology of the literary persuasion.  For most of us, bookish things and writerly urges have become such an integral part of our existence that we have ceased to even question their origins. We simply take them at face value, accepting their existence as “the way it has always been.” It isn’t until we begin to dig, carefully shifting layers of time and memory, that we start to uncover bits and pieces of the Story of Why that is embedded in our personal history.

On Mother’s Day, I wrote about the very direct and deep influence my mom has had on my writing (and reading) life.  Now, all of a sudden, it’s Father’s Day (where did that…

View original post 1,634 more words

If we were having coffee 3


coffeeIf we were having coffee . . .

I’d tell you I wrote fantasy fiction for the first time in seven months this week, and it felt good. I did a word sprint with some friends. What that involves is, everyone checks in (we used Twitter for it), then starts writing at the same time, stops at the same time after 15 or 20 minutes, and compares word counts. I managed to produce three pages of fiction for about 45 minutes of writing time, which could be a record for me. Typically I’m doing well to get a page and a half per hour.

I noticed something interesting about writing that way. What I came away with was all action and dialogue – almost no description or exposition. Of course, stories need a little description and exposition, but those can be added in revision. I was so happy with the three pages I came away with that I’m thinking about getting an egg timer and writing action and dialogue in 30-minute stretches a few times a week until I have 100 pages of it. That could easily turn into 250 once I add the descriptive parts. Action and dialogue move the plot. I’d rather have 10 pages of nothing but action and dialogue than 10 pages of description, because once the action and dialogue are there, you have a viable draft to work with. If all you have is description, it’s much harder to turn that into a story. At least the way I write.

I’d tell you I haven’t forgotten that I promised to write a post about the story of my wedding day. I plan to do that very soon, perhaps for one of these Saturday posts.

And I’d tell you a little secret about how I think about blogs. We joke around a bit about Part Time Monster Media with its affiliates, but really we’re just being silly with that. I think of social networks as places. The thing that makes blogs different from Facebook and Twitter is that both those networks are set up so they feel like one huge, crowded place. WordPress isn’t like that – it feels like a lot of small, interconnected places.

My Facebook timeline doesn’t feel like my own space in the same way that a blog does. At best, my Facebook timeline is like a tiny little room in a huge hotel. People will like my posts there if they happen to see them in their feeds, and tag me with stuff. But no one ever comes and looks at my timeline unless they’re looking for something specific. The blogs are more like little countries to me, each with its own ruler or rulers and its own way of doing things.

Good fantasy geek that I am, my metaphor of choice, in my own private brain, it to think of blogs as kingdoms. And I’m very fortunate to be part of a federation. Because really, who wants an empire these days? I think of Part Time Monster as the capitol and Sourcerer as the second city of our little federation. Each of those blogs has its own identity, but they would be very different if they weren’t so closely affiliated. This blog is my private estate – just a quiet little village in the countryside. Our friend and constant collaborator Jeremy also has his own estate now, and I couldn’t be more happy about that. And we have allies. Lots of allies. Just go and read our Feminist Friday threads, or take a look at how I’m using my Twitter account these days, and you’ll see what I mean.

I view Twitter as a huge commons, for two reasons. It gives me a way to find potential readers, and it gives me a way to interact with bloggers as bloggers. I know tons of bloggers who write things that are good but, for various reasons, I’m not able to reblog them or link to them. Twitter gives me a way to see what they’re posting and help them with my social media without featuring them on my front pages. On Twitter, it doesn’t matter to me what you’re blogging about. Food blogging, mommy blogging, using your blog as a personal journal – as far as I’m concerned, all those things make you just as much a blogger as people who write literary essays and social commentary. And I like to know and help out bloggers.

I’d tell you that I’ve finally figured out how to keep up with 50 blogs a week, and I’ll explain that in my “Blog Traffic and Engagement” post at Sourcerer tomorrow. It’s such a simple solution, I can’t believe I just now thought of it. And this is a funny thing. I’ve been following blogs so long, I could write you a passable history of the blogosphere (I may do that next year), but I’m still learning things that make me feel like a n00b for not knowing them all the time. This week, it happened twice – with the writing sprint and with the way of organizing 50 blogs so that I can visit them all once a week.

Then I’d ask what’s up with you? Feel free to tell me on the thread.

 

If We Were Having Coffee 2


coffeeIf we were having coffee, mine would be iced espresso and milk, unsweetened. I refuse to call it a latte when I make it at home.

I’d talk about the importance of reading to children. I’ve always loved to read, and one of the reasons is that my mother read to me religiously until I was 11 or 12. Always books I was old enough to enjoy, but too young to read myself. She read me The Hobbit when I was six or seven, The Lord of the Rings a couple of years later. That’s probably why I’ve written so many Tolkien articles in the last six months I need a page to keep up with them all.

I started reading my grandson The Hobbit this week. I read him the one-page intro, “What is a Hobbit?” before work one morning. We started on the actual book at bedtime. He listened, enthralled, and asked lots of questions. I think he learned a new word from every page. We got through ten pages before he got too drowsy to listen. He gave up his “last cartoon,” which is a thing we do to transition to lights-out, to listen to the story instead.

**Slight Spoiler**

When Gandalf scratched the mark on Bilbo’s door, my grandson asked what it said. I just told him it was a letter Hobbits don’t know how to read. Later, when the seventh and eight dwarves piled in, I paused and we had this exchange:

Me: So, what did that sign on the door say?

Grandson: “Oh!! It said we’re having an UNEXPECTED PARTY!!” *claps hands in delight*

**End Spoiler

He had no trouble at all picking up on the little subtleties of the text, either. He loved the play on “Good Morning” in Gandalf’s first encounter with Bilbo. And when the sharp knock on the door came after all the Dwarves ringing the bell, he knew it was Gandalf with his staff. We finished the first chapter in one more sitting.

This isn’t quite a faithful adaptation of the introduction, but I have a soft spot for this cartoon because it was my first encounter with Tolkien’s work:

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you it’s difficult to go from posting three or four times a day to only once. We did that at Sourcerer on Monday, Thursday, and Friday, though, because it’s necessary if we want to keep our little operation stable and stay ahead with our content. We posted more than once Tuesday because that’s naturally our busiest day and we had two things that didn’t need to wait. We posted three times on Wednesday for the same reason, although we’ll keep posting Twice on Wednesdays going forward, because the combination of comics and Wordless Wednesday is working very well.

I’d also tell you I think this blog needs a new name. I’ve never been happy with it. It’s just all I could come up with when I set it up. I only want to change it once, because changing one of these blog titles across social media is tedious and time-consuming. Since I’m writing more personal stuff here and using this blog to archive series from all our blogs as well as talking about writing, I’m just not sure the name fits any more.

One more thing, because it’s just too funny. I’ve been blogging for six months, and I’ve had trouble keeping up with other bloggers on WordPress almost from the beginning. In all this time, I’ve been doing it with the reader and the blogrolls. It only occurred to to create a bookmarks folder for blogs and bookmark the ones I visit most often two days ago. I find it hilarious that I’m capable of conceptualizing and creating this complex communication network, but it never occurred to me that using the bookmarks would make my life so much easier.

Those are my thoughts for today. I hope you’ll join me for coffee again next week.  🙂

One Foot on the Platform, the Other Foot on a Train


Today is my 10th wedding anniversary, and I have an awesome marriage. It’s the best personal decision I’ve ever made, and one of the few good ones I made before I was 35. Vicki’s agreed to allow me to tell the story of our wedding day on one of the blogs, and I’ll be doing that in the next couple of weeks. I’m still not sure where I’ll post it, but I’m thinking, perhaps here. Because it’s a story. What writer doesn’t like a good story?

I’d planned to tell the story today, but wasn’t able to write it in time. Because life. When she gave me permission, Vicki asked me to include this video. It’s her favorite song, and in my top 20. We collect YouTube videos of it, and this version includes an extra stanza that’s played so rarely most people don’t know about it. So here’s a video, because it needs to be posted on the actual day, even if the story isn’t ready yet.

I’d intended to have an A to Z reflection tomorrow, but it doesn’t look like that’s happening. It has to happen before I can move on to other things with this blog, though. I need closure, and it helped me figure out some things about where to go here. I need to write them down and invite people to comment.

I’m two days away from being done with the most hectic three weeks offline I’ve had in six months. I’ve had to step away from the blogs lately to take care of business, do family stuff, and just recharge a little in general. And I have a commitment to Sourcerer.

My blogging friends really came through for me today. I have four Sourcerer contributions in my inbox, another one coming, and an out-of-the-blue submission coming this weekend. We lucked into traffic today, we have a post on a trending pop culture topic to talk about tomorrow, and a first post by  a new contributor posting tomorrow who you may already know. 😉 We have a plan laid out through the end of the week over there. So it will likely be the weekend before I can get things back on course here, but it will be relatively soon.

I’m on track to have my professional obligations squared away by close of business on Thursday. My grandson’s little league season ends this weekend. He’s in his first year of coach-pitch, and he’s a slugger. That’s what I’ve been giving a lot of my time to over the past couple of months.

I’m gearing up for a week of serial blogging and frequent tweeting next week. I’ve been just keeping it going for the last little while and taking care of other things. I need a personal vacation, and I need to spend it with my social media peeps. So I’m taking one.

Here’s a preview of my plan for this blog.  I’ll discuss it in more detail when I post my A to Z Reflection.

  • I need to give more space here to poets, poetics, and poems. There are tons of poems in the public domain, and I am well-versed. It’s the first thing I spent years trying to master.
  • Worldbuilding. The worldbuilding and the post about my personal fantasy project were both well-received. I know lots about building convincing worlds, and it’s one of my favorite things to talk about.
  • Posts in which I take a single writing concept or principle and explain it on my own words with a short, conversational post. That’s what I did for all of April, and the 26 posts I wrote for the challenge barely scratched the surface.

I’m thinking of focusing on those three things here and working myself up to twice-a-week posting with frequent reblogs of things I like, then building from there. That’s doable, but it may take me all summer to get there.

Thanks for following, and for reading. I’ll be back in business here soon.