I don’t like being played for a fool, but I think I’ve been played.
Like a honky-tonk piano.
Gather ’round kiddies. Maybe you’ll discover you’ve been duped too.
I hadn’t worked with email from my PC for two weeks except to put the KidLit Scoop together, which takes all day Sunday. At the time, my email was sketchy–hard to get into, logging me out, taking forever to load an email, timing out, etc. I changed my password twice, emptied my PC cache a billion times and managed to get done what I needed to get done.
By week three the whole email experience became hopeless. The server’s website urged users to report problems, but made it impossible to do so.
So I complained on Twitter.
Nearly immediate response from Yahoo.
I won’t go through the ridiculous suggestions they gave me to “fix” the problem. Suffice to say I spent days and days working on nothing but The Yahoo Email problem, taking and giving Yahoo feedback through Twitter DM.
I ended up with a the damn brand new iteration of Firefox–which, who wants the newest release of ANYTHING, before they have worked out the bugs? Had to set up all my marklets and pinlets and special thingies, some of which I lost because they don’t work in this new Firefox incarnation, and pick the icons and toolbars and skins in the new interface WHICH I HATE WITH A PASSION THAT KNOWS NO BOUNDS. But, I like it better than Chrome or the others. I know this because I downloaded other browsers to see if my Yahoo mail would work in them.
Oh, yes. I tried everything.
I watched for an official announcement of some sort from Yahoo that would give me some confidence that they knew what they were dealing with and would at some point repair it, but there was nothing.
Nothing in the news.
Nothing on tech blogs.
Nothing on Yahoo’s site.
But plenty of complaints in Yahoo Answers and on Twitter.
I really like my Yahoo. Been with them eight years. With a heavy heart I researched other email providers, because I just couldn’t lose any more work time.
I settled on Outlook. It’s got unlimited storage, huge attachment allowance, you can direct Gmail through it, all kinds of stuff. And I tweeted about my decision to leave Yahoo loud and clear, last night.
Today, my Yahoo email works. Pretty much perfectly.
After nearly a month of glitches building to outright unusability, it works.
I went back to this link my good friend Vivian Lee Mahoney sent about a hack attack on Yahoo. Supposedly in just the last several days. I’d dismissed it as the cause of my problem because I knew damn well I hadn’t clicked on anything. And my trials had started weeks before this past weekend. So I surfed links from article to article, reading comments and…
Here’s the deal.
There’s an asshole in Egypt who figured out a hack that allows him to get into Yahoo accounts without a password. What’s more, there’s a cottage industry in the Middle East, finding ways into big companies’ programs and selling the illicit information on internet boards. Furthermore, big companies know this, and the smart ones pay bounties to independent hackers who find holes in the programming and report it before criminal hackers can take advantage.
Yahoo does not do this.
But finally the problem has made it into the news, because the Egyptian posted a demonstration of how to actually do the hack on YouTube. Perhaps he didn’t like Yahoo pretending everything was A-OK.
Now the whole world is acting like it’s a new deal, like the hack to Yahoo just occurred this weekend.
All Things D thinks the current problem is the same as the November problem, still unsolved.
Yahoo ain’t spillin’ the beans.
But what they are doing is telling users to change their browsers. Turn off their firewalls. Clear their caches.
Pull the other one.
Yes, read that blog title carefully.
I had the strange need to voice my concerns (start a shit storm) about two different companies on Twitter these past few days: First Watch Restaurant and Dell Computers. Let’s compare and contrast the responses I got from these hive minds, shall we?
Carmen never comes to lunch with us. She usually eats healthy cost-effective food from home while the rest of us go nuts at various eating establishments.So we were super-duper thrilled she was coming with us to…First Watch. And oh, how convivial we were around the table.
Until the potatoes came.
The new, crappy potatoes.
They are mushy. And tasteless. And just. Blech.
The old-recipe potatoes are one of the top reasons we go to this particular restaurant. So when we got back got to the coffee shop, I repeatedly tweeted our displeasure of the NEW POTATOES to the @First_Watch twitter account.
Still waiting for a response.
ON THE OTHER HAND…
This morning I went to the Dell website to read the FAQs for some help on a battery charging problem with my laptop. When I couldn’t find a solution, I took to their chat. When I was VERY FRUSTRATED with their level of help, I started tweeting derisively.
IMMEDIATELY, two Dell representatives asked to assist me. I chose one. She stayed with me on Twitter DM until we found the problem. It took quite awhile. QUITE AWHILE. But she was patient and encouraging and stuck with it. She is shipping me an ac adapter toot sweet.
That is what Twitter is for–a two-way conversation. My customer service rep is obviously Indian, and conversing on Twitter made it SO MUCH easier for both of us, as our accents didn’t get in the way.
So I am commending @ShibaniAtDell for her supreme professionalism and knowledge. I will definitely update you guys on the outcome of this whole she-bang, but I hope this turns out well.
Because honest. I have really, really loved my laptop.
You’ve seen this guy:
Great advertising campaign, right?
Baby, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
Sunday night I was editing the Never-Ending Sunflower Scoop, like I usually do. I tend to get punchy whimsical around about then, and I tweeted this:
A frazzled woman having a little fun, okay? So my Twitter-buddy, Kelly Fineman tweets back:
Oh, *giggle giggle*, two ladies entertaining themselves as they drudge away at their laptops late at night.
The next day, Kelly discovers…
How did she let me know?
ON TWITTER, OF COURSE.
Really wish I’d had my Flip at the Ol’ Sekrit Writing Location as my buddies and I scrambled to get a look at the clip. And our mouths fell open.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Old Spice is ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT.
As far as I can tell, their Product Spokesman is answering questions and bantering with people from Twitter and Facebook, but they are also trawling Twitter for people who ARE JUST TALKING ABOUT OLD SPICE GUY, NOT TO HIM.
Get the difference?
Through this one humorous, 40-second clip on YouTube, Old Spice has lured dozens of people into talking about their product who would not have done so, without it.
And we did talk about it! Whose fathers wore Old Spice, the fact that they have more than one scent now, whose husbands wear it now.
Pray the Old Spice marketing department only uses its brainpower for the public good, because it is comprised of geniuses.
I am pounding my brain to figure out how to apply this to marketing our books. PLEASE. COMMENT. I BEG YOU.
Some day, I will write a novel about the most frightening species in the rogue’s gallery of monsters, mutants and deviants:
I have always DESPISED dolls, from my earliest memories. They are like, totally creepazoid. They look at you with those dead soulless eyes, like they’re planning something. Waiting for you to fall asleep.
Oh, make no mistake. They’ve got you dead in their sights.
There’s even one on Twitter. And she doesn’t even TRY to hide what she is:
I could never understand those other kids who carried their little babykins around, lovin’ on them, cooin’ at them. They were friggin’ pieces of plastic that smelled funny when you left them out in the sun.
Tell me that doesn’t look like a dead thing.
I guess the thing that makes them so disgusting is that they’re NEAR alive. If they were outright fantasies like a Muppet, or, of course, actual babies, they’d be adorable. But this pseudo-quasi-almost-living being strikes me as kind of blasphemous.
So watch out for this little gal on Twitter:
That’s right. They’re part little girl, part plastic, and ALL PSYCHOPATH.
It took me a while to find my voice. In writing, I mean. Let’s not go all melodramatic. People hate that.
I’m in the gooey middle of an experiment called Tweet Mystery of Death. It’s a 6-week “play” of sorts on Twitter. A critique buddy of mine identified the character I play without my telling her.
She recognized my “voice” in my tweets of in-character dialogue. Even though I’m playing a young, male go-fer for a movie star. With an unhealthy yen for bananas and a penchant for blackmail.
His voice is different from my WIP’s MC’s voice, an admirable teen who has had a lot of bad breaks. Yet you can still identify that author’s voice as mine, too. Just like my non-fiction pieces, @mermensing tweets, blogs, grocery lists…
So what is voice?
Part of it has to be sense of humor. While my sense of humor will change slightly for each character, in the end it still has to make me laugh too, so there will be similarities.
Syntax, sure. Whether a writer uses a lot of passive sentences, inverts the subject, “ing”s or “ly”s. Goes choppy. Or uses long, flowery, flowing discussions that seem to run on and on and describe every single detail until there’s nothing for the reader to imagine for him or herself because the writer has covered every stinking thing that could possibly occur to the reader to think about. I have a writer friend that likes to describe exactly what her characters look like, so a police sketch artist could draw a wanted poster. I like to throw in a few key details, and let the reader fill in what they think is good-looking, or ugly.
Word choice. Here ya go. This is probably the key way to figure me out. I admit that I have favorite words: detritus, flabbergast, bubble, jitter, harridan, smirk, boobs. (YA here, okay?) I always have to do that word search thing to make sure I haven’t put “detritus” in my MS 42 times. (This is a separate issue from “weasel words” like: well, just, started to, etc.)
I can hear all you Sweet Young Writers out there saying, “How do I get me some Voice?”
Well Grasshopper, snatch the pebble from my hand.
Or better yet, get a blog.
Because the only way to “get” voice is to write it out of you. The harder you try to get a voice, the less natural your voice is. Bad voice is formal, artificial, stilted. Good voice is–you. In the old days, you would fill 100 notebooks. But now getting a voice is more fun. Get a blog, and write.
Make your goal something just out of the range that you’re comfortable with. If you’re sure that you can do 100 words, make it 200. If you’re sure 200 words will be a snap, make it 300. DO IT EVERY DAY. Pick a subject and go. For a beginner, LiveJournal might be the best choice, because you can link easily with other writers, support each other, have a dialogue.
And hey! When you get started, come back and tell me about it–in your own voice!
SHAMELESS PLUG: HAVE A CHEAP THRILL AND FOLLOW ME AND A HALF-DOZEN OTHER KIDLIT WRITERS AS WE ADLIB OUR WAY THROUGH AN UNSCRIPTED MYSTERY/COMEDY: TWEET MYSTERY OF DEATH ON TWITTER. WE’VE JUST COMPLETED THE FIRST OF SIX WEEKS. WE’VE GOT A NING WITH SYNOPSES AND OUR BIOS HERE. THE BEST WAY TO WATCH US FALL APART UNFOLD IS FOLLOW @coffee_boy ON TWITTER AND FOLLOW ALL THE PEOPLE COFFEE BOY’S FOLLOWING. PUT THEM ALL IN ONE COLUMN ON TWEETDECK AND YOU WILL HAVE ALL THE TWEETS IN ONE PLACE LIKE A SCRIPT.
For me, every Friday is Write With Your Friends Day. Maybe not as productive as my solitary writing days, but oh, so much more fun. And necessary to keep me from boarding the Grand Funk Railroad.
Our day starts in a college library, where we don’t have interweb access.
And we have to pretty much be quiet.
It’s kind of fun to toil away, look up occasionally at the other writers’ faces as they wrestle with their muses. Some eyes roll toward the ceiling. Some out the window.
Do I look like that? Like I’m passing a kidney stone?
We all have different typing styles. The spurters. The slow but steadies. The bangers. The light touchers.
Say. That sounds kind of dirty.
Back to the YA.
In the afternoon we zip over to the coffeeshop where we nosh and work on things that don’t need so much, uh, concentration. Like Twitter.
Yes, yes, yes, I’m back on the Twitter thing. You may notice that I have crossed from Twitter consumer to Twitter provider. I can’t help myself. It diddles my highschool note-passing receptor.
So another Friday is tucked neatly under my writing belt, and while my output may have suffered a bit today, I am primed for maximum production the other six days of the week.