Philosophy, Psychology, Nerdisms, Writing from the Trenches

Observations

On Fangirling or Every One Just Shut Up for a Second

I saw Captain America on Thursday. It was amazing. I loved it.

Afterwards, I was walking home with my friend, Joe, munching on my popcorn refill as we went over what everything in The Winter Soldier meant for our heroes on ABC’s Agents of SHIELD because shit was going to go down. There is no SHIELD, only Hydra.

Every five steps, I’d say, “Sooooo good,” to the point where everyone on Hollywood Blvd. thinks I have some sort of weird popcorn fetish.

Anyway, I could not wait until Tuesday. I wanted to know. I had to know. What was going to happen to Coulson? What was going to happen to a show centered on an organization that has just been destroyed internally? I’m so excited.

And, then I read a bad review for Tuesday’s episode.

Mind, I don’t make it a habit to read bad reviews just as I don’t make it a habit to write them. Unfortunately, this bad review was deceivingly titled. I honestly thought I was going to find some viewership numbers, because I wanted to know if there was a Captain America bump for the show. Instead, I was treated to a rant about how the show isn’t doing what it’s supposed to do and is merely surviving on thin thread tie-ins to blockbuster films.

Okay.

Stop.

Seriously, stop. This is my serious face.

I am not going to say that Agents of SHIELD started out as strong as it could have. It started to lose me. Then, I saw episode 6, which I still will argue is one of the best episodes of the season. It finally pulled in the non-Clark Gregg/Ming-Na characters to give them a stronger arc and finally show what they are made of. I want to see more of the team dynamic. I want to see more of the relationships. This episode did that beautifully while illustrating what being a member of SHIELD means to Coulson’s team.

But, even with my own questions and flagging confidence, Jeph Loeb put out one last call to the fans at PaleyFest.

Trust us.

And, I do.

Agents of SHIELD is not about the Avengers. It’s not about Nick Fury. It’s not about Maria Hill (though if they can pull her in, I would be ecstatic.)

Agents of SHIELD is about the non-superpowered in a world of people and organizations that are. It’s about the grunts. It’s about the people that don’t get to know everything. It’s about people with limitations in a world full of impossibilities.

At this moment in time, I think people are too focused on trying to make Agents of SHIELD what it isn’t. It’s not about pulling in all the superheroes not big enough to have their own movie. It’s not about answering all the questions that were raised in the movies. No one is defined by what they aren’t, they’re defined by what they are.

Science fiction is an iceberg medium. You only get to see a little bit without being privy to the immensity of the whole. The Avenger-universe movies are a piece of that iceberg. The TV show is giving us a glimpse of a different side and every once in awhile gives us the wink-nudge reminder that it’s still part of the same iceberg.

You can’t be upset that you aren’t seeing the whole iceberg.

If you want to choose to just watch the movies, go for it. But, for me, having the show is giving me a richer experience of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

I love seeing glimpses of this iceberg. I love knowing that there’s so much more out there. I have never been this much of a fangirl, getting so excited to see the rest of the season, conjecturing as to who is which Marvel character, squeeing over Easter eggs, and laughing out loud when Coulson says, “Booyah.”

Maybe this is how all those Firefly fans felt…


Christmas Movie Flowchart

It’s Thanksgiving, which means you’re going to start watching the Christmas movies.

Here’s the flowchart to help you decide.

Christmas Movie Flowchart


Remembering NaNoWriMo and Trying to Inspire Others

A friend of mine, Briana Hansen, is vlogging her National Novel Writing Month journey. I’m being supportive, as you should be ifRemembering NaNoWriMo and Trying to Inspire Others someone you know is doing it. It’s tough. It’s hard. You need a support structure.

I have the added benefit of having done it myself.

My journey is atypical. The way I write is different from others (everyone’s writing is different). I write novels by hand and I don’t set pen to paper unless I know what the story is, who the characters are, and where it’s going. I spend most of my waking moments planning.

So, when someone says, write a novel in a month, it’s easy. If I have one ready.

My NaNoWriMo experience was a class assignment in college. I finished in 8 days. The whole class hated me. Everyone finished by the end of the month. So, from someone who wrote 55,000 words in 8 days, let me tell you how I did it.

1. Stop worrying

55,000 words is not a novel. These days, a novel is between 75,000 and 100,000. So, writing the NaNoWriMo’s requisite 50,000 is not a whole novel: it’s the bones and muscles without the flesh and clothing. Don’t worry so much about what it looks like. When you reach your goal, set it aside. You can always come back to it later, flesh it out, and dress it up. This is not a polished product. That’s what revision is for.

2. Just go.

Don’t check your word count every ten minutes. Don’t look at the clock every hour. This is a marathon. It’s going to take time. If you’re on a roll, but you’ve already written for your two hours, keep going. Why stop? When you do stop, stop in the middle so you can pick up where you left off and get right back into your flow.

3. There’s no such thing as writer’s block. Unless there is.

There will be a time (maybe more than once) when you sit down with your hands over the keys and you have no idea what comes next. The truth behind writer’s block is that it’s self-doubt rearing it’s ugly head. If you want to do it in 8 days, you turn off your inner editor and squash self-doubt with the power of will (not really; you squash it with the power of blind, speeding momentum). When self-doubt threatens your word count, sit it down and give it a talking to.

Trust your characters. Trust your plot. Trust everything.

Trust that you can always change it later.

4. Ride the wave

Coming from someone who’s written five of them and knowing people who have written more, writing a novel is an emotional roller coaster. Briana is still in the honeymoon period. She’s in love with the idea, she’s in love with the process, she’s in love with everything around it.

There will come a time when you hate it with such utter contempt you can remember why you decided to do it in the first place.

This is natural. Ride the wave. It WILL drag you down, but don’t worry. You’ll get through it. The process of writing a book looks a lot like the hero’s journey. You have a time when the walls are closing in, you have your own dark night of the soul about your project. Remember, at the end, you get to bring your holy grail back to the villagers. And, you’re never the same after you finish.

5. Support

Don’t do this alone. Seriously. Even if it’s just one friend, get a support structure in place. Writing a book is like being in a relationship: sometimes, you need someone you can vent to.

That’s what I got for all you NaNoWriMo kids. I wish I could have joined you this round, but time does not allow me to.

What are your tips for NaNoWriMo? Tell me about your journey in the comments! And, if you are going through it alone, check out Briana’s vlog and comment.


TMI Minute Episode 6 | Somali Pirates vs. Britney Spears

Why do I keep posting these? Because I write it! Don’t miss the TMI Minute every Tuesday!


The TMI Minute Week of September 9th

I wrote some of this!


The Non-Adopters

I have a problem.

I’m not sure if it’s a generational thing. I mean, I’m friends with people from many generations, and it doesn’t strike me as a generational thing. Here it is:

Why doesn’t everyone use Google (or, God forbid, “The Google”)?

There seems to be a subset of humanity that actively refuses to embrace technology. And the thing that really gets me is that technology is supposed to make our lives easier. If it isn’t helping you, don’t use it.

Hitchhiker's Guide to the GalaxyPerhaps this has something to do with our gadget-obsessed society. It’s enough to own the bright, shiny toy. You don’t need to know how to use it. As long as you have it, your position in society is assured. We’ve replaced technological knowledge for the appearance of technological knowledge. “I have a smartphone, but I don’t know how to use it.”

I was so excited when Apple announced the iPad, because it was like someone announcing a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Here was a handheld device (okay, maybe not palm size, but still reasonable) that had an almost guaranteed connection to the Internet. The Internet. The most complete compiling of human information so far. You want it? You can find it. Science fiction became science fact. Grab your towels.

Another thing about the iPad is that it has nearly limitless potential. Want to use it as a gaming device? Go for it. How about a medical aid for nurses and doctors? It can do that, too. I’ve been asked what an iPad does, which baffles me. You can use it as a musical instrument. You can use it to send text messages or talk on Skype. You can use it to create graphs and set up visual aids for meetings. You can use it to scan credit cards for your business. It can’t make you a cup of coffee, but it can tell you where to find some, and it get you one at Starbucks if you add money to the app.

The iPad, while a technological advancement, is also hailing back to the cave man. Here’s a stick. What does it do? It does whatever you can make it do.

Now, not everyone is ready for an iPad. I understand that. If it doesn’t somehow make life easier (again), you don’t need it.

I believe technology is the one of the foundations of human evolution. Before “I have a smartphone, and I don’t know how to use it” was “I have a rock, and I know how to use it.” Those must have been exciting times, when Caveman Jobs held an event with his turtleneck (made out of actual turtle?), and announced the rock. Maybe he was even responsible for the slingshot. Ridiculous scenario or not, human innovation cannot be denied as a major component of our development.

There’s this aspect of my personality that makes me undauntingly curious. If I want to know something, nothing will keep me from it. I will read the books, I will take the classes. If I had more time, I would study everything from Accounting to Yiddish Studies (yeah, it’s a thing) and everything in between. I understand on an intellectual level that not everyone shares this insatiable thirst for knowledge. Fortunately, I’m not related to any of those people. My parents, my siblings, my aunts, uncles, and more, all share my desire to learn.

The Internet is a portal into the garnering of information. (I don’t believe everything I read on the Internet; I’m just saying you can find factual pieces if you know where/how to look).

If I don’t know how to do something, my first instinct is to turn to Google.

Why doesn’t everyone do this?facepalm

You know another thing that’s great about Google? You can just type in your question, right into the box, and it gleans your meaning. How? They employ linguists who seem to have the ability to read minds. Their algorithms incorporate data from your history of searches. They look at the way other people have reacted who have performed similar searches. Google is trying to make your life easier. Embrace it.

I think these non-adopters are going to have a problem very shortly. Human technology is evolving alarmingly fast (not that you need to read any books on it). If you can’t keep up now, what happens when everyone is wearing Google Glass? What happens when we develop a way to store our thoughts instantaneously to the cloud?

Human evolution is so closely linked with our development of better tools, it’s possible the swift development of technology could lead to species directed evolution. Yes, our tools now could determine the future of the human race.

So, get on board. The spaceship is leaving without you.

P.S. I’m ready for my nanite injection, Mr. DeMille.


On Ruining Everything

A recent post about Michael Bay’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has my childhood spinning in its proverbial grave. And, before you start accusing me of hipster nostalgia, you’ve got nothing on me. I watched the cartoon, had the toys, devoured the movies, got the Christmas ornament. I even read Ninja Turtles books. Checked them out from the library. Left it outside in the rain. That put the fear of God in me.

Anyway, that point is Michael Bay is RUINING ninja turtles. Michelle Fox! What in the…how would the…but the…

Okay, I’m going to stop myself right there.

It’s sort of interesting when these types of things happen, my mind runs to cover the eyes of some imaginary child that I don’t have, nor even want at this point in my life. It’s weird, this completely unjustified righteous indignation. And, while I do think, “It’s not even the same story. You’re changing everything. Can’t you just make that movie and leave my beloved non-alien, un-Michelle Fox Turtles alone?”

Clearly not. And it’s not really my business to say so. You see, I make a stand by not giving Hollywood my money. (In most cases, it matters not.)

But, it brings me to a weird point that probably doesn’t need to be made.

You’re not really ruining it.

While attempting a Harry Potter movie marathon last weekend, I came to a stunning realization. Those movies are DEPRESSING as HELL. As I made my way through the first three years of Harry Potter on DVD, I forgot the good times that Harry had at Hogwarts. I forgot J.K. Rowling’s sly wit and subtle humor. So much of that didn’t come out in the films. I had to stop because I knew Harry’s journey just grew darker and darker.

Did the director’s of Harry Potter ruin it?

No. I had so many fond memories of reading the books. And, fond memories of gathering with my friends to go to the midnight releases. I wonder what someone who has just seen the movies must think.

Back to the point:

Ruining things.

In many ways, we don’t want pieces of our culture to die. We bow down to them and worship. It’s like the George Lucas tithe. Every ten years, we must give him more of our dollars and eat popcorn at his altar. This reluctance to try new things is killing the movie industry. (Let’s face it, it isn’t going anywhere soon.) Studios want to bet on the sure thing. And even if everyone is going out to watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in order to hate it, YOU’RE STILL SEEING IT.

If we want to maintain our culture, we should preserve it in our minds. I remember sneaking Star Wars on the basement VHS player. I remember my shock that Darth Vader was Luke’s father. I remember those episodes of Batman: The Animated Series that introduced me to every villain and left me with a fondness for boxy Batmobiles.

At some point, we have to let go of this notion of ruining. The world is progressing. It’s not easy to build a fandom from scratch, but kids do it every year. Do I love The Nanny because of it’s timeless Broadway references or because it was a part of my youth? Mostly because of the Cici/Niles repartee. Perhaps I over-inflate the brilliance of things because I have a developmental attachment to them.

Either way, we must face the facts: Batman is growing up, the Ninja Turtles are growing up, The Nanny will not come back on the air.

Accusing people of ruining things holds us back from progress. Stop being such a Raphael.

(By the way, I can’t wait for Jurassic Park 3D)


As our contract states, you owe me some tongue

This isn’t my usual gig, but stick around anyway for this.

I watch a lot of television, most of it streaming, so commercials are few and far between. I’m fairly good at tuning them out, too. Unless they’re funny, I find them less than useful. I buy my Apple products because I was brainwashed by my peers. The commercials had nothing to do with it.

But, recently, I heard a commercial that caught my attention FROM A DIFFERENT ROOM.

Yes, I was minding my own business while my roommate was watching TV and I heard a commercial that sounded sort of…strange. I walked in to watch the rest of it and thought, “Well, that’s Pavlovian.”

If you don’t know who Pavlov is, he’s this psychologist who taught dogs to slobber at the chime of a bell. Sound stupid? You’re wrong. What he did was ring the bell, feed the dogs, ring the bell, feed the dogs, ring the bell, feed the dogs, ring the bell…and the dogs started slobbering because they were expecting to be fed.

If you think that’s common sense (my dog eats on a schedule and gets antsy around 6; I don’t think he can tell time), Pavlov was able to prove it in a lab {and on one! ba dum chish} and as we all know, if you can’t replicate it in the lab, it didn’t happen. (Ok, psychology nerds; what I’m talking about is technically operant conditioning, but more people are familiar with Pavlov than Skinner, I would have had to explain more when they can just Google it, and I wouldn’t have been able to make the “lab” joke)

Back to the commercial.

It was a Kay Jewelers commercial. I’ve embedded it here. If you don’t see it, CLICK HERE. You see, it’s a Super Bowl ad. Millions of Americans are supposed to see this commercial. Take a look.

Maybe you think it looks sweet, but the man is working on conditioning his wife.

Pretty much every jewelery commercial is like this.

Give lady shiny rock for good thing, she do good thing again.

It even says it in their slogan. Every kiss begins with Kay.

Agreed upon contract or hidden misogynistic agenda?

I don’t know why I suddenly went on this feminist rant. I suppose it’s just been building for years, with every jewelry or Colon Blow™ yogurt ad where women are the target market. I’ve been calling the Open Hearts Collection the Tits and Ass Collection ever since I saw the first commercial four years ago because that’s what it looks like. I’m sorry, Jane Seymour. I’m sure you’re a wonderful person, but, seriously.

Am I taking it too personally? Sure. Why not? I don’t really care about jewelry. I would rather have something functional, something meaningful. For example, a wedding ring is a symbol that you are married. It can also function as a bottle opener.

If someone wanted to condition me, they would say, “Thank you. Here’s a subscription to Mental Floss,” or “Thank you. Here are the new tennis shoes you need.” Or, better yet, “Thank you. This is a gift that no one would understand except the two of us and I knew it would make you laugh and you would love it because you love me and it symbolizes our mutual trust and happiness with each other.”

Put that on a Boobs and Butt locket, Kay.

(You can argue the flip side that the commercial is conditioning the men to buy the jewelry. Commercials are all within the realm, trying to show you the rewards of a lifestyle you would achieve with their product. It doesn’t change the fact that ultimately, women are being demeaned in these ads. And it bugs me.)


That Color Doesn’t Look Good on Anyone

I recently threw myself a pity party. You know the one. The one where you feel like the whole world is against you; or maybe your mouth was faster than your brain; or maybe, for some reason, your being is divided between id, ego, and superego and they all hate each other at the moment.

Whatever the reason, I started the pity party. I know why. It’s that moment when your life decisions catch up with you. Not that you made any particularly bad decisions, or decisions that you regret. It was the sort of thing where you expected everything to go smoothly and forgot that the time between decision and success is LIFE HAPPENING.

And, I usually go with the flow. But, I’m a Philosophy major, a brain, one of those overly analytical introverts that are so depressing at parties (be they “pity or otherwise)…

The Universe has not subscribed to my time table.

It all started when I realized I lost touch with my voice. Wait, not my “voice,” my Voice. That mystical, magical buzzword that all writers use (it’s bullshit, but it isn’t {but it is [but it isn't.]}) I’ve been writing things for Not Me for awhile. Spec scripts, jokes, sketches; things that are me, but they aren’t (but they are {but they aren’t [but they are.]}) In the world of The Creative, there’s the whole thing about trying to get paid for your work, so you do things to increase your exposure that are not necessarily the thing that you would be doing in that parallel universe where the world is perfect. This world isn’t really available to anyone. Even people with contracts still get rejected by their editors, producers, executives, etc. I mean, J.K. Rowling and Stephen King are pretty much the only Creatives who get to say “My rules” to whomever.

Anyway, the thing that I want, more than fame, is to be able to present a project and say, “I can make this work.” And, maybe that’s what fame is? Maybe not. Whatever the case is, I don’t want to be a sellout, I want to be a silver lining. I want to be a Fixer. I want to be the person who can turn a Nothing into a Something.

Back to the Pity Party.Id, Ego, Superego

Quiet down, up there.

My Superego knew exactly who to invite to this party and made a move to protect itself. My Id, on the other hand, just wanted the immediate Pity gratification, which it sought without any consultation.

So, to those of you who were invited to the Pity Party out of Id, I apologize. I know that you love all of my parts and tried to help in the best way you could, but you were gratifying the Id, which really didn’t deserve it.

And, to those of you who were invited to the Pity Party by the Superego and showed up to throw the drink in its face, you were right. Thanks for coming.

Because, if I’m the one who wants to be able to say, “I can make this work,” sometimes the advice I need is “Make it work.”

It’s not a perfect system. My Id still begs for gratification. But, at least on some level, I’m starting to reject my self-imposed martyrdom.


Top TV Writers Talk How to Work on Successful TV Shows

Went to a panel sponsored by The Scriptwriters’ Network on Saturday. Call that my force social interaction for the week. The speakers were Glen Mazzara of The Walking Dead, Dan O’Shannon of Modern Family, Alex Cary of Homeland, Janet Tamaro of Rizzoli & Isles, Vanessa Taylor of Game of Thrones & Matt Nix of Burn Notice. As you can tell, some hefty names in there.

They started with the usual grab bag of “How I Broke in Stories.” I appreciate these to a certain extent, but the thing that nearly all of the stories boil down to is: Know Someone.

They knew someone, They met someone at a party, such and so introduced them to their agent. It’s not easy. You have to network. So, circle this, star it, bookmark it, whatever. If you want to write for television, somewhere, somehow, you’re going to have to know someone in or around the industry. What this translates to is: get to Los Angeles. I’m not poo-pooing your dreams and maybe there are exceptions, but look deep inside yourself and decide whether or not you’re Katniss Everdeen and even she had sponsors. Peeta had to know someone to get a leg up (oh! A leg up! Snap!)

Enough with the Hunger Games references. What other wisdom did I take away from the experience?

You have to write. A lot.

You have to get used to rejection. Janet Tamaro, as a female showrunner, asked the men on the panel what the male equivalent to “bitch” was. Interestingly, the joking answer was “success.” And all the panelists were kinda like, “well…yeah.”

But let’s be honest:

bitches get stuff done

Perhaps the biggest thing they hit on was Voice. (Yes, so big I capitalized it)

It’s weird, Voice. Sometimes, I feel like I don’t have a Voice. No, not sometimes. All the time. What is my Voice? How am I different? How can I be different while proving that I can also be the same?

This comes on the tail end of me pitching something in class that I probably shouldn’t have. I started the pilot writing class on Tuesday, a class that will end with a group of actors reading my pilot on stage. This is an awesome opportunity, to see what someone will do with my work. And, I pitched my half-baked idea. I had my ready to go idea. And I pitched my half-baked idea.

My heart’s in it. I love my half-baked idea. But my brain started berating me. I’m not ready to write this. Which makes it, perhaps, the perfect time to start writing it. It’s like I snuck up on this idea in the jungle and surprised it into submission. Hopefully, I can wrestle it to the ground before it gets its legs underneath it.

Well, once again, I’ve turned this blog around and made it all about me.

I guess what you really need to know is that nobody knows what they’re doing. And also no one can really tell you what to do. We’re all firing in the dark. Some people have flashlights, but when they hand them over, they don’t always work correctly.

Last note: Dan O’Shannon wrote a book about some of his comedy experiences called What Are You Laughing At? If you’ve read it, let me know what you thought. I will probably take a look at it and throw a review up here. I suppose I should get back to being “smartly droll*” about books.

* A friend of mine said I was smart droll so I’m stealing it. Welcome to the world of writing.


I Put the “eck” in Rejected

It’s been awhile since I’ve done an overt post on writing and I just KNOW you’ve been dying for one (irony irony irony and scene). Regardless of how you feel about writers writing on writing about writing while writing, I can’t afford therapy, so I bought a domain name instead.

If you are a working writer, you’ve received a rejection letter. If you haven’t, then:

1. Screw you

OR:

2. You’re not really a working writer and you need to take a look at what you call your career.

Rejection is part of the process, and it’s something that want-to-be writers must deal with in order to progress. Sometimes, your writing sucks. Sometimes, the market is bad. Sometimes, nobody wants you. Okay. It happens. That’s life.

You pull up your big girl panties and get back to work.

This week, I got the rejection letter from my final requested manuscript. It was not a form rejection. It was kind and gentle, and I’ve developed a Twitter relationship with this agent and still enjoy talking with her, even if she didn’t want my stuff. This letter made me feel a great many emotions, but all these things were very loosely defined.

I’ve been waiting for this rejection for awhile. Now, let’s take a look at that. I’ve been waiting for this rejection. I wasn’t waiting for a “yes.” I’d been waiting for a “no.” When did that happen? When did I become so bitter and cynical that I’m expecting bad news over good?

But, regardless of expectation, every rejection letter brings up every other rejection and compresses them all into one big lump of ice right smack between the lungs. And that lump expands into a void of negativity. And the doubts rush in to fill the negative space.

I’m not talented. I can’t tell a story. I’m doing something wrong.

Your support structure tells you that’s wrong; you’re talented; you’ll get there. BUT THEY ARE LYING!!! (irony irony irony and scene)

The truth is, when you come to expect rejection, the old adage of doing the same thing and expecting a different result leads you to the crazy train.

Now, here’s the real point of this story.

The worst thing repeated rejection has done to me is trained me to not want things.

Wanting things is stupid and leads to pain, therefore the act of wanting is a gateway to pain and must be avoided at all costs.

I realized my numbness to desire when I suddenly wanted something. An opportunity presented itself and that cold lump was immediately incinerated in the burn of possibility. There was an all consuming rush, a caffeine high, an unfurling of imagination as a million different futures spread before me, none of them featuring a rejection. I had to tell someone. I had to tell everyone. I had to run home and write a blog post about it!Give It Colbert

So, there. The real travesty of rejection is not the “no.” It’s what it does to your head. It’s how it messes you up, pushes you down, leaves you on your belly so you forget what it’s like to sit, stand, walk, run.

But when something is worth wanting, maybe that’s the only thing that you need to get back on your feet.

 


Jokes for the Week of 11/5

Papa John’s will be cutting hours due to projected ObamaCare costs. It was either that or downgrade to “Cheaper ingredients,cheaper pizza.”

Yahoo’s fantasy football website broke down today, leaving fantasy football players stuck playing their level 5 mages.

CIA Director Petraeus resigned due to an extra marital affair. If he worked in the British Secret Service, he would have been promoted to 007.

Gasoline rationing has continued in New York City. In a related story, New York City Prius owners are emitting a record amount of smug.

A 64-year-old Florida man tried to shoot his horse and missed while riding it drunk. In related news, the broad side of the barn can rest easy.

A British zoo is offering a program where tourists can swim with tigers. This replaces the much less popular program “Swim with the Yankees.”

Lindsay Lohan recently said the cops are out to get her. The cops responded “Any info of Lohan’s whereabouts can be reported to her dedicated hotline.”

Carrie Fisher told interviewers she wants to be in the new Star Wars. Just what we need; the return of the Sith.

Officials asked news media to stop calling hurricanes superstorms. Official classifications are Category 3, Category 2, and Holy Shit, Wake Up Grandma.

The only reason people make fun of Snuggies is because they’re jealous they didn’t think of it. That and they make you look like a klansman.

A New Zealand scientist was banned from referring to ancient humanoids as “hobbits.” The decision affects all archaeologists, making it one ban to rule them all.

Thousands of rats displaced by Sandy are taking to the streets of NYC. There hasn’t been this big of a rodent exodus since Fievel went West.

A new study shows that LA porn stars have more STDs than Nevada prostitutes. It just goes to show that some things really do stay in Vegas.

Starbucks plans to accelerate growth in 2013. Instead of a Starbucks on every corner, there will be a Starbucks in every home.

Philadelphia 76er’s revealed a t-shirt cannon that shoots 100 t-shirts a minute. This move is just another escalation in the NBA arms race.


Stranded

I’m changing my superpower.

Flight and invisibility are the poor man’s game. When I played pick a superpower, I always played it with the full X-men dossier. Everyone said Wolverine because he was cool and great and awesome and who hasn’t wanted to brandish knuckle-sprouted blades at some inconsiderate line cutter. (or is that just me? my bad…)

I just want to point out that “badass” is not a superpower, it’s a state of being.

Anyway…

I usually went with Storm. I mean, come on. You can control the weather. Snow. All the time.

But, I’m changing it to Nightcrawler teleportation. Nightcrawler has a roughly three-mile radius in which he can teleport. At the very least, I would use it to cross the street.

But, the real reason is my damnable travel karma (see previous post). On with the tale!

What you need to know:

Hurricanes come with their own stages of emotions.

1. Mild Surprise

I got a text message from my dad on Friday that read: “How’s the storm situation?” At the time I had no idea what he was talking about. My flight the previous night had been delayed (see previous post), so I assumed he was talking about that, even though I hadn’t mentioned a storm. I told him I got in late last night. About 45 minutes later, I saw the news and sent him this. “Oh. Now I see what you mean.” It was far away, I was young and inexperienced. Certainly I would not fall victim to such a thing.

2. Irrational Fear

Okay, so the president’s talking about it. And, apparently it’s pretty bad. And, Twitter is abuzz. Oh, my God. I’m going to die. What are my last words? Who should receive my last farewell? Who gets my stereo?

3. Coy Nonchalance

I’m staying in Cambridge, on the MIT campus. Where else in the world would be a better place to sit this out?

4. Irrational Fear

ANYWHERE ELSE THAT IS NOT IN A HURRICANE! FIND THE TORNADO ROOM! NO, GET TO HIGH GROUND! WIND IS SO LOUD!! WHY IS WIND SO LOUD?!?!

5. Cabin Fever Bat Shit Insanity

I’m never going to get out of here. Every flight that ever existed has taken off or been cancelled. I’ll never see anyone again. Are the walls closing in? Why is it so bright? I can’t see. No, wait, I’m looking at things. I can see. I’m never going to get out of Boston.

6. Overwhelming Frustration

Okay, this one hit when I was told that my rescheduled flight was also cancelled. The new one? Friday. I’m trapped in a dorm until Friday. Admittedly, a big part of this frustration stemmed from the fact that I am supposed to fly to Vegas from LAX on Thursday. Yeah.

7. Acceptance of Fate

Do you know what it feels like to flush money down the drain? That’s what happens when there’s no possible way you can get to Los Angeles before Thursday and your ticket is non-refundable. Rebooking the flight costs more than the original ticket, and I’m not going to throw good money after bad. Oh, and I’m flying to Dallas on November 15th for the week and a half of Thanksgiving. At this point, I might still be in Boston, but, whatever, man. Whatever.

As far as the hurricane itself, well, it didn’t really hit Boston. It was simply a rainy, cloudy, windy day where everyone stayed inside. No flooding, no power outage. I ordered delivery.

Yes, I have a place to stay with power, a bed, Internet, and all those things that so many are without. I am grateful for all those things. I know a lot of people have it much worse than I do. Right now, I just want to go home.

But, let me make one thing known. You don’t want to be in a hurricane. You don’t even want to be near a hurricane.

Oh, and:

Dear Mom,

Send underwear and shampoo.

Love, Kate


Jokes for the Week of 10/15

Texas State Fair lost their icon Big Tex, a 52-foot cowboy, in a fire. This leaves the state without it’s last line of Godzilla defense.

Tim Tebow has trademarked the term “Tebowing.” Fans have raised the question, “Is that what Jesus would do?”

The NBA has instated a 90 second time limit on pregame handshakes. Officials reassured the full handshake will still be required to enter the post game treehouse.

A man hired a woman to slap him every time he logged on to Facebook. The move is likely to inspire a new trend with “50 Shades of FarmVille.”

Today is the first day of PSAT testing. In other words, a test where everything is made up and the points don’t matter.

A poll shows parents would rather have Obama watch their kids which means if Obama loses the election, he won’t add to the jobless rate.

The Rolling Stones announced their 50th anniversary tour. It will unite old and young fans with people who want to watch someone die on stage.

Both Nike and Anheuser-Busch have dropped Lance Armstrong as a sponsor, proving any move to stay with the cyclist is ballsy.

General Mills will cut sugar and salt from its breakfast cereals, so keep an eye out for Nut Cheerios, Toast Crunch, and Unlucky Charms.


The Change

I’ve gone Hollywood.

Gone HollywoodFor the first time in 3 months, I returned to Dallas on a quest to surprise those I left behind. I hadn’t thought I had changed.  I was still the sly, witty, Iron Man rip-off that I’ve always been, but this time, something felt different.

One of my roommates is a reality TV star. Living with her is not nearly as exciting as it would seem. She’s an amazing, generous person with a Midwestern work ethic and an inviting personality, but it doesn’t change the fact that each tidbit of information I mention seems like I’m raising the stakes.

She’s a reality TV star.

From Bad Girls’ Club.

And Love Games.

And she’s filming a pilot this weekend.

Yes, my life turned into that. My roommate is filming a pilot this weekend.

I wrote a sketch for a Second City show that premiered on the main stage this Sunday when I was in Dallas. It was a wonderful thing to be able to tell everyone about, but I wasn’t heartbroken that I missed it. There will be more to come, more to experience, more to contribute.

I met Jane Espenson. I was at a coffee shop with Damon Lindelof (I think, still not sure), and I went to the Paley Center preview nights for three major networks.Hollywood Star

Back in Dallas, I ordered the salad because the takeout is less greasy in LA (this is not to say it is more healthy). I left a half-hour too early for everything because I’m already adjusted to living with the traffic patterns. Gas was $4 a gallon and I considered it a good deal.

But, let’s be completely honest.

The one thing that has really changed about me is that I’m happy.

I love living in Los Angeles. I love what I’m doing in Los Angeles. I am incredibly busy and not everything has moved as fast as I want, but I love it all.

And my last moments were bittersweet. Because, as I said goodbye to my friends, my heart breaking all over again because I already missed them, this time I wasn’t leaving Dallas to move to LA.

I was going home.


Celebrity Spotting

I’d like to dispel a rumor.

There is this…notion…that if you live in Los Angeles, you see celebrities everywhere.

This is simply not the case. I have only seen (identified?) two celebrities since I’ve been here. I am, of course, not counting the ones that I went to an event to see because, let’s be honest, that’s totally cheating.

The first was this guy:Progressive Insurance guy

Yep. The Progessive Insurance guy. He was walking down the street (in a jacket that color, no less) while I was driving. As I passed, I had the strangest feeling of deja vu. I knew that guy. I had met him before. But, from where? It wasn’t until later that I realized where I recognized him from.

The second was this guy:

Chord OverstreetWhile I’m not a big Glee fan, it’s on the fringes of my knowledge enough for me to have made the connection when I saw him. He was getting into his shiny, black car outside of our neighborhood Rite Aid. Celebrities are just like us! They have prescriptions!

I’m a little disappointed. At a premiere event for the second season of Scandal, some woman walked the red carpet and my friend whispered to me, “That’s Kerry Washington!”

I had no idea. I’d never seen Scandal before that night (it’s really good; watch it). I had no schema for Kerry Washington or any of the other actors on the show. So, I’m doubly disappointed. Not only have a not spotted many celebrities, I’m not versed enough in the culture to recognize them when I might see them.

When I was in New York, the only celebrity I saw for four months was Scott Adsit. As a huge 30 Rock fan, I recognized him immediately, but, at the time, 30 Rock wasn’t the comedy powerhouse it is today. I mean, it had only won two Primetime Emmys at the point.

I wonder if I would like to try celebrity hunting for a week. That’s sounds a little paparazzi of me, but, hey, it might be fun.

If there was one celebrity you would want to see (without drooling on them), who would it be?


Second City Homework

Okay, so I had to write ten jokes. Here they are, in all their (non) glory. Let me know if you like any of them.

  • A new button has surfaced at the Democratic National Convention, Hipsters for Obama. That’s a change from supporting that candidate you’ve never heard of.
  • Canada has launched a new digital currency called the MintChip. No word yet on the other 31 flavors.
  • The Democrats have brought in Kal Penn to do the rebuttal to Clint Eastwood’s RNC speech. Penn aimed his remarks at an empty bong.
  • This week was the first annual cat video film festival. Everything was going great until the closing ceremony, when someone snuck in a laser pointer.
  • Wyoming has taken its grey wolf population off the endangered list which is terrible news for the Wyoming Lannister population.
  • Last year, Obama ran on the Change campaign slogan. This year it’s “Change. Spare change?”
  • Hurricane Isaac washes up 18,000 dead swamp rats. Honey Boo Boo commented with “Them good eatin’ right thur.”
  • Snooki released her first photos with her newborn son, Lorenzo. You can find his new cologne at Babys R’ Us and Macy’s.
  • Turns out the speakers at the Democratic National Convention mischaracterized on their speeches. That’s what you get when you use Joe Biden as your factchecker.
  • Fantasy Football season has started. It’s a perfect time for fantasy football players to pretend they aren’t roleplaying.

Making It Up As I Go

I haven’t posted in three weeks, which I apologize for. I’m working at a social media job that has me writing 5,000 words a week in blog posts alone. That isn’t really an excuse, but the blog format does lose some of its mystery when you’re up to your elbows in it everyday. I just didn’t have the moral fortitude to add another six hundred words to that count. I spend those words elsewhere.

Paley Center for Media - Husbands Season 2 PremiereThis blog post has little direction, so let’s use it as a metaphor for my life.

Things in Los Angeles have not settled down. I’ve lived here long enough to have paid two months of rent. My life continues to run a gamut of emotions, which, admittedly, I am not used to. I moved in with Amber, from the Bad  Girls Club, which is sort of amazing. I never expected to be living with a reality TV star (I suppose that’s not something that people would expect, anyway). In many ways, it’s nice to have someone who challenges me to go out and be social. I’m not naturally a social creature.

A huge part of succeeding in Los Angeles is being here. I mean, obviously. How can you work in Los Angeles without living in Los Angeles? Waking up in the morning is surreal. I’ve met interesting people. On Monday, I went to the premiere of Husbands (Season 2 out today!). The event was at the Paley Center for Media, a public event, so much of the crowd was just fans of the show. As the 7pm premiere time drew closer, members of the Buffy and Caprica casts started filing into the theatre.

That’s how it is here, I guess. Or maybe it isn’t. I’m in a place where I have nothing to measure anything against and the thing is, living completely without the ability to measure is normal. Jane Espenson’s advice (which isn’t new, but, c’mon, Jane Espenson said it to ME) “Just…keep putting yourself out there.”

I’m sure she knows how hard that is. How painful that can be. Perhaps it’s creator’s self-doubt or maybe it’s something else, but putting yourself out there is HARD. Standing in a room screaming “NOTICE ME!” while everyone else is doing exactly the same thing is trying. Of course, you can try something different, but that’s no guarantee, either.

But, the point is, momentum. Much like writing this blog post, it just got faster and faster as I went. And, maybe meeting Jane Espenson and Brad Bell at the premiere of Husbands was just another way of putting myself out there.

Don’t miss the first episode of Husbands Season 2 today!


Nerds vs. Hipsters – Why it’s a thing

If you’re looking for the social media stuff, it has moved over to Social Media for the Common Man. I will be updating that with both basic and advanced techniques for interacting on the web with your fellow man. You’re free to take or not take my advice. I will also take suggests in comments, on Twitter, on Facebook, and through email. Feel free to contact me.

I’m working three jobs and having a fairly good social life (much to my surprise), so updates may be sporadic.

Speaking of a “social life”, I had a ticket to ComicCon (#sdcc) on Sunday and guys…

Seriously, guys…Nerd overload

Anyway, lately I’ve been contemplating Nerdom, my current status within the hierarchy of Nerdom (I mean, c’mon; I made the pilgrimage to Nerd-Mecca [on the Sabbath, no less]) and I wanted to point something out.

Nerds and hipsters are in a culture struggle. My real contemplation started when I pinned an infographic on Pinterest. At first, I thought it was a joke, but I got several responses to it.

Then, I tweeted something about Shark Week and soon found myself shoved into some hipster strewn corner of the Internet. It was like I was living on a Risk board. When did the hipsters take Shark Week?

In Nerds: How Dorks, Dweebs, Techies, and Trekkies Can Save America (and Why They Might Be Our Last Hope) David Anderegg says,

“Young adult urban hipsters embrace nerd/geek stereotypes and costumes because this is a way of distancing themselves from mainstream America.”

The thing about stereotypes is that you tend to brush against the walls of your stereotype no matter how atypical you try to be. But, one of the really great things about nerds is that they usually don’t care. Often times, a nerd will place practicality over appearance. That’s not to say that don’t care about cleanliness (stereotype) or attracting a mate (stereotype), they just have other things on their minds.

I wear glasses because my eyes aren’t so good. I prefer to wear jeans, a t-shirt with a pop culture reference, and a pair of Converse. I really like the way those shoes look paired with boot-cut jeans. I suppose that’s my costume, but it’s what I’m comfortable in.

I’ve been working with web technology since 7th grade. I love Apple products. I grew up surrounded by them (my dad had a Newton!). I have a lightsaber, I love television shows, mostly scifi dramas, and Joss Whedon is one of my heroes. Not ironically.

Apple Newton

This. This is a Newton. Unpopular ancestor of the iPhone

The hipster is extremely concerned about their appearance, which is interesting that the opposite intent often yields the same result.

Nathan FillionHowever, the big difference between nerds and hipsters is enthusiasm. My ticket to ComicCon was too last minute for me to wear a costume (got the ticket Saturday night at 8, had to leave at 6am Sunday). I didn’t feel right throwing something together half-assed.

The thing I’m really getting to is: hipsters like things ironically. What does that mean? It means they’re either a) too afraid to admit they like something in actuality or b) they say they like something to sound outrageous or cool or hip.

Nerds don’t love things ironically. They squee. They freak out when they see Nathan Fillion. They work all year on a costume they wear once a year…and they don’t even get in the door.

Hipsters’ attitude and their tendency to disguise themselves as nerds may have led to nerd chic, but now it’s giving nerds a bad name.

The next time you see a hipster and mock them, stop and think.

Perhaps it’s only a nerd.

P.S. We’re f*&king taking back Shark Week.


Social Media for the Common Man – So, you’ve joined a social network

I was going to title this post “Don’t Be and Asshat”, but decided to be a little more upbeat with it. If you’re looking for something on not being an asshat on your social media platforms, especially if you’re a writer, I send you here. Chuck Wendig’s a little in your face, but he makes valid points and he makes them well.

So, you’ve joined a social network.http://www.yourcomputer.com/portals/0/images/QuestionKey.jpg

What do you put on there?

Well, here’s the good thing and the bad thing:

It’s really up to you.

Here are some things to get your posting started:

1. Find people who share your interests.

I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again. Social media is all about being social. You’re making connections and building relationships. You aren’t standing on a soapbox with a loudspeaker; you’re in the party working the crowd. First, you’re going to need to find some people who share your interests. And, don’t give me that crap about not knowing what your interests are. What are you looking for from people on Twitter? Book recommendations? Movie reviews? Humorous anecdotes about deep sea fishing?

There is someone out there broadcasting just that kind of information. Start following them, add them to your feed, read their blog.

2. Decide who you want to be.

This is a strange, philosophical order, but you need to pick your online persona. Not even I can be everything all the time. The most important thing is for you to be you. Being yourself in 140 characters in a daunting thought, but it’s not as hard as it sounds. It’s okay to hesitate over a post. It’s okay to hit the delete button. It’s okay to leave something in the draft box. You can take some time to decide which parts of your personality shine through on the web. Sarcasm…not always understood. Irony…not always apparent. Remember that on Twitter and your blog, most of what you post will be viewable by the public. If you’re comfortable hanging your crusty underwear out there, go for it.

Personally, I wouldn’t want too much of my life on the web, but I did post pictures of my room on my blog. I’m comfortable sharing that.

Streaming video of me sleeping? Not really me.

3. Find the line between engaging and stalking and DON’T CROSS IT.

There are celebrities on Twitter. But, guys, they’re on Twitter. They came to the party. They can’t have the expectation that people aren’t going to try to talk to them. And, if you’re interested in them or their work, I would encourage you to follow them. On the flip side, be aware that everyone wants to talk to them. Did you tweet an alarmingly clever reply to something Lady GaGa said? Don’t be offended if she doesn’t answer. People are responding all the time. On the other hand, you don’t want to be that creepy nutbag who replies, @LadyGaga LOL!!! after everything she posts. While that won’t necessarily get you negative attention, it certainly won’t stick out when you say something charming and witty and worthy of response.

Choose your responses and choose them wisely. You don’t know how someone will react to your (sorta)unsolicited attention. Don’t say, “@joshgroban I want to wear your face.”Something like, “@joshgroban I enjoy your music” is a little less creepy. For smaller-time celebrities, just be aware that the first time might surprise them. When someone you don’t know starts talking to you by referencing something you just said, it’s surprising, but we humans are getting more used to it.

4. When in doubt, Golden Rule it

Imagine you had the worst week in the world and you tweet, “Just had a really bad week.” What kind of response are you looking for?

You don’t have to be looking for a response. You can simply be mentioning your bad day because it helps you relax. But, suppose someone sees it and responds with “@your_name LOL!! I haz a bad week, 2!!1!!!” That probably doesn’t make you feel any better. That person is being an asshat. DON’T BE AN ASSHAT!

It’s not that hard. Put yourself in someone else’s position. That’s actually a primary evolutionary trait we’ve acquired to deal with the need to socialize. How would you want someone to respond? You can add a personal touch and begin to work up a rapport, but just be aware of your own feelings to help guide you in your responses. You won’t always be correct; different people have different thresholds. It’s about relationships. Those don’t always start off with a bang.

Social media can be really fun. Don’t let anything deter you from trying it out. If you aren’t having a good time, stop doing it. I won’t judge you for it.

Remember, finding your voice takes time. Connecting with people takes time. Social media isn’t magic.

I will bring you some more content creation tips in…three days? I promise three days.


Warning: I am not an expert

I titled this post so you would understand that this is opinion and what works for me. If, one day, I get published, then maybe I’ll retroactively change the title. Until then, if you’re looking for expert advice, I be not the one to which you should turn.

I mean, Gawd, look at that sentence. What does it even mean?

But, dear Internet user, perhaps writer, perhaps good friend of mine or family member, I want you to take this to heart with the force of my sincerity behind it.

Please be very careful about whose advice you are taking, especially when it comes to writing. Chuck Wendig posted on his blog, “The Internet is 55% porn and 45% writers.

The thing is: Not all of these writers are experts. You don’t need to listen to what they have to say. Even Chuck Wendig is full of shit sometimes. Only sometimes. He’s a good one to look at (plus, he has published books!).

I’m not often one to admit this, but writing is hard. There is no easy advice out there to help you write a book. There’s even less to help you get published. There isn’t a rule book, there isn’t a yellow brick road. The best you can hope for is reading about something that works for someone else and finding out that system works for you.

Here’s what works for me:

1) Write more better.

I got this one from A. Lee Martinez. It means write more and you will eventually get better. Or, writing more will eventually lead to better writing. I don’t know, but it means something.

There is a time to put aside a project that isn’t working and start something new. Don’t write one book and bank on that as the one that leads you to fame and fortune. Write more better.

2) Don’t expect fame and fortune.

Do you know how many authors are on the midlist? Do you even know what the midlist is? If you are a bestseller, congratulations! Honestly, good work! But, there are plenty of people who are published and still can’t quit their day job.

Be aware that your little book might not change the world. It might not get you published. It might not even get you an agent. But, if you follow the advice in point #1, maybe, eventually, you will land on something that resonates with enough people to get you published, agented, or off the midlist.

3) Finish it

You can’t keep it up forever. Slap an ending on that sucker, give it a round of revisions, and see where that leaves you. In the mean time, start thinking about something new.

4) Read

You can always improve. Read good books, read bad books, read magazines, read YA, read Stephen King. Read something and see if you like that style. Read something that you hate, but make sure you identify why you hate it. Keep looking for improvements.

5) Find critiques

Your head is an echo chamber. Sometimes, the voices of doubt, confidence, paranoia, suspicion, and anxiety bounce around so much, you lose objectivity. Give it to outside eyes.

I went to a public group that involved reading your piece out loud. There are plenty of ways to do this. Someone you trust to tell you the truth, another writer, anything. You need someone to look at your work to answer at least one question:

“Is it a book?”

So, yeah. I guess writing is hard for the simple fact that it’s not easy. You have to work at it. You have to want to improve. You have to do the thing that works for you and, if it doesn’t work, try something else. There aren’t rules, so much as guidelines.

If you try to take a shortcut, you might be disappointed with where the path leads.

Good luck. Be aware. Be careful. I care about you and want you to succeed.


The Thing about Fear

By all rights, I guess I should be scared out of my wits. That’s what I’m told, anyhow. I should be panicked and nervous, sweaty palms and all. I should be jumping at loud sounds, flight or fight mode shifted into full-blown adrenaline rush.

But, I’m not.

You see, I’m moving to Los Angeles on Saturday. I mean, if you’ve kept up with this blog, I know you know that already, but, yes, Saturday is the big day. And, I’m not sure if I’m done with everything here.

But, my parents have promised to ship it if I need it.

A contingency of my friends and acquaintances have told me I’m brave. Brave is defined as “ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage.”

Perhaps it is bravery. I don’t think the pain I will face is physical. I suppose the biggest danger is going hungry because I run out of money. I know a big part of what makes this maneuver brave is the fact that I am walking away from acknowledged safety and comfort and heading into the unknown, where hardship and uncertainty are assured.

“Into the unknown!”
“Yes, but unfortunately there’s this dirty great sea monster in the way. “

Several people have asked me if I’m afraid.

I’m not.

So, why isn’t fear a factor?

Fear was a handy emotion. Way back in olden times, it helped keep us alive when we were fighting the saber-tooth tigers. It is a stress response that allows us to act without thinking. Again, a handy-dandy skill when you’re facing something that’s about to eat you or trample you. You don’t have time to waste thinking, “I should move a little to the left.”

Fear still serves a purpose. But, it can also hold you back.

Quotables:

“I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.” -Rosa Parks

I want to write for television. There really isn’t anywhere else in the world that I can do that besides Los Angeles. New York comes in second, but it’s not (believe it or not) as easy to break into television taking the New York route. So, Los Angeles or bust. I’ve made up my mind. I know what must be done. I know it will be hard. I’m not afraid of working. I’m not afraid of failing.

But, I suppose, it’s just simply the fact that allowing fear to rule is never a good excuse. There are so many things that we could fear (worry is a state of fear), but it’s better to face it, take it head on. Conquer it. You can learn to control your fear response. Make the judgement. Is fear really helping? Or are you just a slave to years of living in caves worrying about being crushed by Og’s new invention “hawk blurg rugbug” or, as we commonly refer to it, “the Wheel?” It’s just mind over…mind.

As I head out to LA, be assured that I’m not facing my fear.

I’m fearless.


Notes on Social Media or I’m not from the government but I’ll help anyway

As you would have known from my previous post, I am true neutral.

But, in honor of my favorite Avenger, Agent Phillip Coulson, I am going to offer you some help in an attempt to put some rampant Internet rumors to rest.

There is no need to fear social media.

What are my qualifications?

Well, I’ll start with my baffling Klout score. I have kept my Klout score above 40 fairly consistently since I joined about a year ago. Is this because I want free stuff? No. Well, a little. But, really, a big part of maintaining my Klout score is by not actively attempting to maintain it. If you don’t know what Klout is, it’s an analytical tool (that is not perfect) that can be used to understand how influential you are and what you are influential about on several different social media sites.

I am the producer for Everything Internet Radio, a show dedicated to bringing small business owners and entrepreneurs everything they need to know about keeping their business uploaded and updated. We have a podcast, too, if that’s of interest. Anyway, I have to keep my finger on the pulse of not only the Internet, but the social media realm. We have two guests per show and at least one social media/marketing firm represented per show. I’ve been listening.

I was the Social Media Manager for the DFW Writers’ Conference, running their Twitter and Facebook accounts. A volunteer position that I could regrettably only give a few hours a week to.

Lastly, I’m under 30.

Still not convinced I’m qualified to give you advice on social media?

Thanks for listening. I’ll see you next week when I post about something else. For those of you who care to stick around, here it goes.

A few things on social media.

1. Stop calling it your “platform”, “fan base”, etc…

What are you selling? Is it yourself? Because that reminds me of a different profession that has little to do with social media. When I stepped into my role with @DFWCon, they were working off bad advice. They had downloaded a program that automatically followed people with a particular hashtag, with the hope that these people would follow back out of some sort of honor based system of “Followback”. They had the same tweet going out once a day, just so there would be activity on the feed. I felt as though I were some captain coming out of hypersleep to find my spaceship drifting lazily through the void with a dull-witted automatic pilot, slipping my hands into the steering yoke to set everything back on course.

Why was this the wrong approach? Sheer numbers is not what social media is about. Social media is about building relationships. It’s about communication. What needed to change? We shouldn’t have targeted people in general, we should have tried to reach people interested in attending our conference. How? By interacting with our guest agents. James Rollins, our keynote speaker, was interacting with us on Twitter, talking about how he was excited to attend the conference.

Guess who follows James Rollins? People who like James Rollins.

Guess who should be attending our conference? People who want to hear James Rollins give a class/keynote address.

Is there going to be overlap?

Yes. A lot of it.

2. Patience.

Do you know how, in real life, when you meet someone, it takes time to build a rapport with that person? The same is true of social media. Rome wasn’t built in a day. You’re not going to start reaching everyone immediately, even if you want to. You know what also takes time? Learning the rules and shortcuts of the social network you’re using. Where does that @reply belong if you want everyone to see it? Not at the beginning of your tweet. When should I #hashtag? Depends. I like to do it when I’m being #ironic. What happens when I type the @ symbol in my Facebook status update? Well, try it and see. #evilgrin

My point is: Don’t get flustered. Look at it as a bright and shiny new tool, a new iPad, say. Here is this thing with potential. How you make it work for you is up to you. Relax. If there’s something you don’t understand, ask your followers. If that doesn’t work, or you have too few followers to get an answer, type your question into Google.

I could go on with tons of hints, but I’m going to stop after this next one. If you want to hear (read) more, let me know in the comments. Or not. I might do another one of these if I get frustrated at the fear-mongering again.

3. If you don’t want to do it, don’t.

Not sure if you want to blog? Try it out. Don’t expect a lot of comments. If you don’t like it, go ahead and delete the blog. No one’s going to get mad at you. No one’s going to call you a failure. It’s not that big of a deal. Remember that age-old joke, “Doctor, it hurts when I do this.” Stop doing it.

Anyone who tells you that you “have to” do something is lying to you. If you don’t get any enjoyment out of tweeting or reading other people’s tweets, you can get off Twitter. Those people who say, “You’re not on Facebook? What’s wrong with you?”…there actually might be something wrong with them. I’m not against trying new things. Many things deserve to be tried. But, if you feel very reluctant about doing something online, don’t. We’re all friends here. We don’t want you to feel uncomfortable.

Don’t confuse the addicts with people who think you’re funny, sincere, genuine. Sometimes, people want to hear what you have to say and when they ask, “Are you on Twitter?” be honest. They’ll understand. Maybe not right away, but point them toward this post.

Social media is not something to be feared.

It’s something that promotes communication and relationships. It helps people stay in touch. It celebrates the human condition.

Enjoy it.


My To-Do List

As I eyed a 6’0″ axe at the Renaissance Fair last week, I was struck with the thought that maybe I could wait on getting that new computer. My current compy is only four years old and in fair condition, but that’s four years at 2,000 words an hour. Some of the buttons are wearing off, sometimes it just gets obstinate and refuses to load anything, but it’s seen me through my first paid writing gig, a pilot episode, a Big Bang Theory spec script, three novels, two trips to Michigan, and a partridge in a pear tree.

So, I figure I can wait a year. Maybe sell one of those three books…

But, I digress. Back on point.

My perceived need for a new compy put me in another frame of mind. Way back when Lion came out (I’m running Apple; you can read all about my indoctrination here), I tried to update only to find it didn’t run Microsoft 2004. Those three novels disappeared. With hat in hand, biting back the curses on my tongue (I didn’t read the fine print), I shuffled my way to the Apple store and muttered, “Please, sir, may I have my files?”

They were nice it worked out huzzah yeah apple but NOW…the time has come for me to upgrade to Lion.

And do everything else before I move to LA:

 Save up money

2. Upgrade the compy

Find homes for my instruments that will not make the journey

3. Meet up and settle friendship communications

4. Acquire boxes

5. Measure how many of said boxes will fit in the car

6. Trial run with packing the boxes

7. Agonize over everything that doesn’t fit

8. Find a place to live

 Get a job

10. Have a major freakout, regret the decision, run around in circles, yell at my parents for no reason, talk to my cat about all the opportunities, decide to go anyway.

11. Order Not for Tourists: Los Angeles

 Add new categories to blog: TV Nonsense, Movie Nonsense, Los Angeles

So, what? Am I missing anything? Let me know, because I really need to shut it down and get going. I met with a friend, Ben, who used to live in LA working as a writer and as he described this place to me, I could see/hear how much he loved it, how much he missed it, and how much he hoped to go back to it.

While people have been telling my how much I will hate LA, I’ve been answering with “But it’s what must be done”. But, after meeting with Ben, I started to think, “Man, I could really love living there.” He was the first person to say to me “Just get there. You’ll see.” I understand that people are in awe of the choice, or proud that they know someone relentlessly pursuing their dreams, or afraid that something will happen to me. But, I think the profundity of Ben’s fascination with LA burned away the lasts wisps of doubt and fear.

I’m as prepared for culture shock as one can be.

Ben said, “You’ll meet a lot of people like you.”

And that’s interesting.

Because I like me.

I like me a lot.


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