Our Blabbermouth Friend

Today I am going to see Star Wars, and I can take my phone with me and check in, so people know that I am there, and where I am seeing the movie, and when I saw it. Data is sent to the Facebook Corporation where they now will associate me with Star Wars, and then will market Star Wars products on my Facebook later.

Daily, my email box is full of messages that are from blogs I like, places I’ve bought products from, and sales flyers that I was forced to sign up for in order to look at the products on their website in the first place. I maybe still get one or two emails a week from people I know personally.

When I shop on the internet, what I browse is saved, and later it shows up on my Kindle, so I know that all those websites look at my history, and see what I’ve seen, and then it is shared, so I could be marketed to.

“Hey, look Jen, isn’t that the Lemur Onesie you looked at on Amazon with your Mom? Don’t you want to buy it? Just click here while you are reading updates from your friends! It’s so easy. We want to make it easy for you to spend your money!”

If my husband paid more attention to my Facebook page, he might have seen the exact product he is getting for Christmas right there beside a post about where one of my friends went to lunch. He opted out of the Facebook craze and keeps a tight hold on his presence on the internet. I’ve given up that option because I want to sell some novels on Amazon next year, and I need to work the system to gain readers because that is the world I live in now.

So basically, as a person born in the 1970’s, I can get a bit creeped out by what is called social media, but what is in reality, marketing media. It’s like having a really know-it-all, blabbermouth friend that you’ve accepted will eventually reveal everything they know about you to the next person they meet. At first, I was shocked that so much of my info was out there, tangled in the web. Then I was appalled that it was being used to target sell products to me. When I learned just how many millions of people my blabbermouth friend had told that I might want a Lemur Onesie, even my bedside companion Kindle knew, I realized that it was too big and too late to stop the marketing machine now.

The teens of today probably check in and shop and see the advertisements and think that it is cool that their phones and tablets and TVs know what they want to buy, and remember what they watch, and might want to watch in the future. After all, it is just marketing. It’s innocuous isn’t it? Well, maybe the marketing machine is, but I think the blabbermouth friend might cause some situations that could range from awkward to serious.

So in the end, I’m blogging my thoughts to my blabbermouth friend and hoping it gets me more readers, so that next year I can sell some books and maybe make enough money to put up a fence in the backyard and keep the neighborhood kids from playing, fighting, and sledding back there.

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Write like you are knitting!

I need to figure out how to construct my novels using a knitting theme. Can I write my novel faster, better, more consistently if I think of it like a pattern, like a sock pattern?

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First you have a thread, the idea. This could represent the beginning of the novel. The foundation, or rather casting on enough stitches to start the story. The who, what, where, when and how that starts the action. Then I need to join the ends together to start knitting in the round. The catch if you will, the thing that grabs the reader’s attention and makes them want to read on down the cuff.

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Next is the ribbing. It can be one/one, two/one, two/two, three/two and so on, which sounds a little rhythmic doesn’t it? So the next part is establishing a pattern, the characters, the story moves along and builds one row on top of the other making a pattern that is designed to cling to the reader. Things happen at a steady pace, characters are introduced, interact, cause problems, fall in love, get angry, make decisions, feel frustrated. It is all building to the heel flap.

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The heel flap is the point when you stop knitting in the round and knit rows. It when the story takes a turn. It is a major problem, the main crux of the problem that your protagonist comes across and has to work through the rest of the book. You leave the other loops on the needle and work with just half the stitches. Those other story threads, the secondary plot points, the less important threads that have brought you to this point are on hold until the flap is completed.

Turning the heel begins by picking up more stitches around the flap. You’ve seemingly written yourself into a corner, the reader can’t be sure of the way out, but the author knows that each side of the heel flap can be and will be connected to the stitches on hold. One by one, the stitches are picked up and you join in the round again, making decreases on each side, resolving some of those secondary plot points, and making headway on the main problem. Soon you’ve got your heel completed.

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Next you continue on down the foot in plain stockinette stitch. There is a fixed length here depending on your foot size and it is smooth, no bumps, just finishing the length. At the end the problem is resolved in some way that makes sense. The pace here can tend to go too long and get boring, but the end is in sight and the characters are dealing with the results of their actions.

Finally, the toe section needs to decrease into a reasonable number of stitches to be grafted together. The plot dwindles, the protagonist is in a new phase, a new head space and they have accomplished their goal to spite the turns that made them think they wouldn’t survive. The reader is left with a few stitches woven together to create a solid end.

I hope this helps some of you out there who are stuck like me, probably on the cuff or the heel flap.

What has been going on….

So, from the last post to the end of January, I’ve been preparing my writing sample packet for the graduate program I want to start next fall semester. It was a lot more stressful than I thought it would be and I have to thank my friend Becky and my hubbie for helping me out proof reading and giving very necessary opinions on the content and tone.

After that was turned in, I have started to focus on doing crochet classes at the local yarn shop. I am doing this for 2 reasons: I need to get out and meet more people and be more social because I am starting to feel like Emily Dickinson and I like to do knitting and crochet projects. I am in another create with yarn phase when I feel internal pressure to be in a writing phase.

I want to finish the book I’ve been working on for 13 years now. I am always trying to figure out why I don’t work on it. Why don’t I work on any writing? Then when I sit down to write, something unexpected and great sometimes pours out of me. See next post…

Back to Normal

I’ve been absent from the blog because I have been studying for the GRE and now I have taken it and am pleased to report that my scores are sufficient to meet the requirements of my school. Whew!  It was difficult for this illogical 40 year old brain to get up to speed on a standardized test, but to spite the logic needed, I passed and that is all I wanted.

Part of me wishes that I had gone on to grad school when I finished my BA, but things didn’t work out that way. I had friends who did and teachers who recommended that I continue on, but I kept thinking that I didn’t need a masters degree to write. This is a true statement, but what I do need a master’s degree for is a job.

I may yet finish my novel before I go to grad school, but that doesn’t mean I will make a living from it or even get it published.

While I enjoy writing, it is one of those things that you do alone, so over the years, I’ve learned that it is not good for me to be alone for too long. I become as reclusive as Emily Dickinson and short of wearing white all the time and writing poetry about death, my depression sets in.  My writing gets better with company, when I am in contact with the world on a regular basis. And this is my first step towards my goal. 

 

Peanut Butter Cookies

When I was six, we went to visit my cousin, Karen, in Stillwater, Oklahoma on a saturday in the fall. She lived above someone’s garage and attended OSU. Her apartment was basically two rooms and a bathroom with a foundation of green shag carpet over floorboards which served for the roof of the uninsulated garage below. The furnishings were typical of college apartments, the discarded beige couch with rough wool upholstery, a plaid covered bean bag chair, and a mountain of stuffed animals including a Winnie the Pooh about my size.

As we entered I smelled them, she was baking peanut butter cookies. As they baked, they smelled strong, like being in a peanut factory. But she forgot to take them out and in minutes, they burned and the smell went dark, burning leaves, a campfire, and burning butter with hardened black bottoms.

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She stopped talking and squealed, “Oh no! The cookies!” Then ran off to the kitchen area and pulled them out. “I always burn them. Sorry Jen.” She looked at me sadly with her long straight hippie hair and big owl eye glasses. I looked at the cookies, golden hash marks on top, dark brown bottoms like they’d been dipped in chocolate. For all I knew, that is how they always looked. Karen was the first person to make them for me. And I liked cookies like cookie monster likes cookies.

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“They look good.” I said. “I’ll eat ’em.” I bit into the first one. It was hard, like peanut brittle, but still soft on the top. The burnt part tasted bitter, but the top was sweet. I loved them.

Later, when I was married, my father-law-loved to bake. He made perfect peanut butter cookies. Each hash was pressed evenly and perpendicular to each other. All were round and uniformly the same size. Never burned, because he sat there and watched them bake. They were wonderfully delicious and I knew without a doubt they were the best homemade could be.

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Grocery store cookies have a strange taste to them. I am sure it was something that keeps them moist and chewy, but I’d rather eat them hard if they are going to taste funny.

My favorite way to bake them is with a Hershey’s kiss in the middle. And that is just what I did. This little group of cookies is going to work with the hubbie for his holiday luncheon at work today.

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Mushrooms are fascinating

This gallery contains 3 photos.

Every morning this summer during my morning walk with my dog, Zoey, I encountered these mushrooms. They have such an interesting texture. The tops look toasted and remind me of the color of popcorn and the texture of marshmallows toasting … Continue reading