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Twittery for Writers

Posted on March 31, 2009. Filed under: blogs |

A couple of months ago, when my blogging mentors recommended that we bloggers-in-training join Twitter, I signed up with doubts.

  • It’s for kids.
  • It’s for kids who text on Blackberries.
  • It’s a time suck.
  • “What I’m doing” is nobody’s beeswax!

It’s where “posts” are “Tweets.” And I’m a “Tweeple” identified with an @ sign in front of my name. And I have all of 140 characters to make a statement.

That includes spaces and punctuation.

When I posted about a neat marketing book I’d read on the train home from NYC, I was dumbfounded when the author started “following me” (signed up for my feeds.)

Come to find out, you don’t have to have a cell phone that texts to use Twitter, you can do it over the Web.

I see people my age on there, and some are fellow writers.

It’s not a time suck, as long as I use some common sense. I may Tweet three times in a day. Sometimes, I even have mini-conversations with some of my Tweeple. I also post my latest additions to The Horsey Set Net. (I’ve got a few horse Tweeple.)

And I’m careful about what I Tweet about. Nothing truly personal that I’d blush about. But Twitter is not just about “what you are doing,” but what you are thinking. What you find interesting and want to share.

And some people have been tweeting about needing a good book to read.

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Slow and steady

Posted on December 14, 2008. Filed under: blogs | Tags: |

My other blog is almost five months old now.  That’s pretty good, since I wasn’t going to get it online until after November.

It doesn’t have a lot of readers yet, but the readers I have enjoy it. Some of them “don’t read other blogs,” as they tell me via email. And they don’t know how to post Comments, they say — and that’s why they email. They like that it doesn’t take long to read. It’s a break in the day for them.

And that makes me happy because that’s exactly how I want my site’s readers to feel.

I designed it like Peter Jackson reportedly designed Hobbiton for “The Lord of the Rings,” as a place where people would want to go on holiday.

So it’s a pretty place. A diversion with pretty pictures and sometimes funny, sometimes playfully snarky prose.

Anthony Bourdain is another influence. DH and I watch “No Reservations” faithfully. We like his mix of irreverence and poignancy.

Most of the other blogs in its niche are more how-to’s. Or they’re a diary. p. And some are just places for people to jeer at other people.

Even though mine has an animal at its center, it’s not just about the animal. Or a journey with the animal. It’s sort of a journey to the animal.

Huh?

So, I think that makes me a travel writer.

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Equus – How did he manage that?

Posted on November 20, 2008. Filed under: blogs, horse stories | Tags: , |

Over on The Horsey Set, I posted a review of Equus. What I didn’t cover is what inquiring minds want to know about the practicalities of staging.

How did the 19-year-old Daniel Radcliffe manage to remain “uninspired” during his simulated sex scene with the lovely Anna Camp’s character?

After all, Radcliffe is a teen-age boy, a walking hormone. How did he manage to remain impotent, live and in-the-buff, as the script demanded? Especially with an equally live and in-the-buff girl paying a lot of attention to him?

Maybe he used some kind of Method actor technique? Or some kind of a ninja-yogi-Jedi mind trick? (“These are not the droids you’re looking for … “)

But my friend and I detected a more practical technique.

The theater was very, very cold.

Right after intermission, we felt a distinct chill.  The kind of chill that tenses you up and makes you shiver. The shift was sudden. As if they’d cranked up the AC to refrigerator levels.

Plus, we were seated in the mezzanine, high above the stage, up where science says the warmer air should have risen. So, that tells me that the stage must have felt like a meat locker. Pardon the pun.

Not to take anything away from Radcliffe’s focus and talent as an actor, but the production took no chances by hedging their bets with science.

Problem solved.

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A New Start to the Day

Posted on September 23, 2008. Filed under: blogs, writing | Tags: , , |

This is how my mornings used to start.

Around dawn, Max the cat would come get me. He would whimper or meow. Or knock knick-knacks off the dresser. Or chase one of the other cats in a hissing screaming yowl down the hall.

So, I’d get up but not be able to go back to sleep. I would go sit at the computer to see what was waiting in my Inbox.

No more.

I’ve been reading Tim Ferriss’s lifestyle management book titled “The Four Hour Workweek.” In it, he says that we should not start the day with email.

He recommends a bunch of other techniques, including only checking email twice a day. ::gasp!:: And to avoid the news. (Yeah. Right. Dude, it’s a US Presidential election year – and hurricane season.)

I now close off my email program before bedtime so that I won’t be tempted by its siren call in the morning. “Who sent me something??? Anything good????” Hmmm???

So, I get to work with the horse blog or even the novel. But, then, I realize that I need to open Outlook to get a URL stored in an email storage folder.

To continue being productive, I have to open my mail.

So far, I’ve been able to delay the inevitable until mid-morning. I can’t seem to stop at just looking for what I need. I am compelled to hit “send/receive” to see what came in while I was sleeping.

And so it begins.

But one thing I hadn’t anticipated is that I rarely get anything over night that truly needs immediate attention in the morning.

Who knew? 🙂

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Joining the Equus Posse

Posted on September 3, 2008. Filed under: blogs, writing | Tags: , , , , |

Yes, I’ve joined the bajillion newsies making bad puns about Daniel Radcliffe (yes, Harry Potter) soon to appear nude on Broadway in Equus.

Not only that, I’ve bought tickets, too. I go in late October.

I’m a little suprised that I did. I had considered the ballyhooed nude scene So Much Hype. So many young stars decide to torpedo their childhood images with a blatantly adult role.

And nothing does that so thoroughly than playing the unstable former (I’m assuming he got fired, considering what he did in the backstory) stable boy in “Equus.”

And that’s another reason why I wasn’t eager to go at first. I’m squeamish. I know that they won’t “go graphic” when they dramatize the crime that Radcliffe’s character committed.

If you don’t know what the play is about and you’re squeamish, too, skip this next line:

The play is about the stable boy’s psychotherapy sessions after he had blinded six horses with a hoofpick.

Gulp.

Good Gawd, Rhonda, why do you want to see a play about something like that?!?

Good question. And I’m still figuring it out. I had been researching for the blog post and I thought, this looks like a damn good play. Maybe even a bona fide dramatic event. And I live close enough to go.

I picked my companion with care. Another horsewoman, a sister English major and a fan of serious drama — and, with a click of the mouse, we have tickets.

So, I finally got my post up to the blog, my pretty little blog with the rotating header photos. Each click brings up a different photo of the ten available. Trick, huh? I had carefully selected stock photos according to composition, emotional content and color scheme to insert into the WordPress theme.

Anyway, while I was working on this post, I went over to The Horsey Set Net to check the link. Imagine my surprise — when you consider the play’s synopsis — to see the close-up photo of the paint horse’s eye pop up in the header on the “Equus” article.

Arrrgh!

Poor taste and bad luck can happen when you least expect it.

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FTP Follies – learning as I go

Posted on August 21, 2008. Filed under: blogs, TheHorseySet.Net, writing | Tags: , , , |

I’ve neglected this blog as I wrap up BISW (or, more accurately, Book in Eight Weeks) and fine-tune the look on The Horsey Set Net .

I think I got about 64 additional pages done on BISW. Not exactly a book, but it’s good progress and I forged ahead into the dreaded Act III. I now know it’s not going to bite me. Right now, it doesn’t have to set the world on fire, either.

As for THSN (the horse blog), working with WordPress.Org has taught me a lot of lessons. I love to learn new skills, so I’m trying to do everything myself. Sometimes to varying degrees of effectiveness.

I didn’t go with this blog’s theme after all. I went with another free theme called Amazing Grace. I wanted the option of banner photos, so I wouldn’t have to come up with as many images for posts. So, I’m downloading stock photos to replace the ones that come with the theme. I’m about halfway through the process.

Since I’m using my own domain name and had to go through WordPress.org, I have to use FTP. A File Transfer Protocol program.

That FTP makes me nervous. It’s too easy and I feel like I’m gonna screw up all the time. It works like a split screen – half the page is what’s on my computer here in CT and the other half is what’s on the website at my host in LA. I drag files from my computer to drop onto my web host. If the file names match, Voila!

If not, if there’s a typo, it’s, “What happened?” And if I can’t seem to find the file I need to replace, it gives a new meaning to the term “hunt and peck.” Which now is more like “hunt and click.”

Is it this one? Click. Nope. What about this one? Click. Uh, no. etc. Ad infinitum until …

I call in DH, my own personal live-in IT guy to help me figure out where I went wrong. Only he’s more of a hardware dude than a software dude and knows less about WordPress and blogs than I do. We managed to trial&error the new theme onto THSN. And he helped me figure out why I couldn’t find another file.

Sometimes luck fills in for skill. And with any luck, I won’t have to call him in to bail me out so often.

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Fadtastic Blog Renovations

Posted on July 28, 2008. Filed under: blogs, Uncategorized, writing |

Yes, I’ve re-decorated the blog.

Actually, I’m trying out this WordPress theme. It’s called Fadtastic, and it’s one of the free themes. Once I get my horse blog up, I plan to use this theme until I can afford some blog-designing artiste to wave the magic mouse and transform it into a unique virtual place.

Until then, I like this one. I like the cheerful colors and the clean lines.

I didn’t forget about the horses. Nyuh uh. Got me a domain name, some hosting, picked me out a free theme (this one), been planning content. I intend to launch it this fall. When it’s up, there’ll be a link right here, if you’re interested. Stay tuned …

But, first, I want to play with this theme for a while. Get a feel for how it works. Already, I see that I need to write an “About” page. So, this blog is a great place to practice.

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Confessions of an Occasional Blogger

Posted on June 12, 2008. Filed under: blogs, Uncategorized, writing | Tags: , |

I seem to be falling behind with this blogging thing. My last entry was three weeks ago. Uh oh.

However, the novel I’m writing is making excellent progress. I have no idea how authors, especially those with the book-a-year contract, juggle both. The longer I do this, the more impressed I am with that end product, a book that’s a satisfying read.

I have a feeling that I overthink my blog topics. I have about seven unfinished drafts that I couldn’t get off the ground, let alone post in a timely fashion, so they’re outdated now. A prime example is a post about my pre-Belmont thoughts on Big Brown.

Also, for some topics, I have another venue in mind. I don’t want to debut them here under my basically, intentionally anonymous personal blog. So I save them. I hope they don’t end up like the magazines on my coffee table, the ones I insist I intend to read but secretly fear that I’m just hoarding.

Plus, part of me likes the idea that I have a relatively anonymous venue in which to post thoughts and interests. But that defeats the purpose of the promotional author blog. Although our little circle here is kind and generous, I wonder if I might be too thin-skinned to be a blogger, like a NYT best-seller who discontinued her blog after getting crisped in an accidental flamefest. I think I’ve managed to build a shield over my fiction for critique purposes, but maintaining that facade takes a lot of energy. I’m not sure I’ve got the strength just yet to extend my mental shield to works on the blogosphere, too.

So I’m comfortable here with our little circle and feel a bit guilty that I don’t contribute more.

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WordPress Changes

Posted on April 10, 2008. Filed under: blogs, WordPress | Tags: , , |

I know it’s been a few days since I blogged, but dang! I come back to tap out some posts and see that my Dashboard looks different. I feel like Rip Van Winkle waking up — and missing his 8-track when everyone else is wearing an iPod.

Come to find out, I haven’t posted for ten days. That might do it.  I’ve been off busy working on a pair of articles for the Sisters in Crime Guppy newsletter, plus my upcoming “I’m Legit” website.  A day in the blogosphere must be like a “dog year.” Sheesh.

One thing I miss in this new version is the word count. I like to write short posts. Now I have to judge it visually, I suppose.

Maybe I need a trip to the new FAQ. I’m sure they updated that, too.

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RSS to the Rescue?

Posted on March 9, 2008. Filed under: blogs, writing | Tags: , |

Squirrel in Our Backyard

Photo by Rhonda Lane

I try to keep up with my favorite blogs but it can be tough. Real Life gets in the way of Virtual Life.

So, it’s RSS to the rescue. Because I don’t check my Google and Yahoo accounts often, I have it sent to my main email. Apparently not all blogs do that. So, I just click on over to the over to the blog itself where I do my reading. A post from several days ago, especially on a busy daily blog, may catch my eye so I might comment. But then I get a knuckle-rapping message for being late.

My virtual tail drops between my legs as I slink back to where I feel more welcome. Maybe there’s something good to be said for blogs not posting every day? A little laid-back atmosphere?

So, I RSS when I can. But then there’s something else I miss in RSS posts — the fancy design layout (theme/template) that so many bloggers pay such good money for.

Those layouts, to me, are like a restaurant’s decor. Yup, I go for the food and the fact that someone else does my dishes, but I also go for the atmosphere. Otherwise, I’d just order takeout and eat at home in
front of the TV. Some RSS feed posts do show up with some design elements, but I still feel like I’ve pulled up to the Chili’s To-Go window again.

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