Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Paper, Ink and Me

Paper, Ink and Me... we're all the same, this is what I learned this weekend. I went to our local State Park, just me, hubby, our dog, and our camper. The state park is only about 20 miles from our house, but it's on a beautiful river and has glorious huge trees that when the wind blows thru them they sound incredible. And we can have a campfire and spend time talking to each other, vs talking to ourselves at our computers, or talking to our computers to tell them how stupid they are. We take our guitars and play by the campfire, we do things we don't do at home, we could but we just don't. That's why I love camping. I took along a book I'd been wanting to read for about, ummm 5 years now.

Anyone that's been listening to me at all for the last 6 months knows I'm writing a book. I love my book, but I think, as we sometimes do with our children, it has become a reflection of me and I take it very personally if someone criticizes it or doesn't like it for whatever reason. I want my book to make everyone happy, and if it doesn't I somehow feel I'm not making them happy. It's all become very twisted and much too important to me, I recognize that. I know because I don't sleep, I forget to eat, I can hardly wait to get up in the morning to work on it some more or read the last re-write from the night before, when my eyes were glazed over with grogginess and everything I wrote sounded marvelous and inspired! (rarely the case).

In my last post I mentioned I had given the Introduction and the first three chapters to three friends to read and give me feedback. Then I perched myself on the edge of my seat and waited for them to call me to tell me it was the best thing they had ever read but they couldn't wait until the next time they saw me to tell me that. Hey, I'm just being totally honest here. But no one called and I went camping without knowing what they thought.

Well, the book I took had a chapter called "Get Over Yourself." I'm serious, you can't make this stuff up! The Burden of Arrogance was the subtitle. Now, I seriously didn't recognize that this chapter had anything to do with me (ok, anyone that has ever not been blind to their faults raise your hand).

This is the chapter that did it for me. The author says; "God hates arrogance. (and well He should I'm thinking). He hates arrogance because we haven't done anything to be arrogant about. (Are you ready 'cause here it comes); Do art critics give awards to the canvas? Is there a Pulitzer for ink? Of course not. They are only tools, so they get no credit for the accomplishments."

That hit me between the eyes and God showed me that I had forgotten that He is the one that gave me the stories I am writing, He created the people they are about, He put me in their lives at just the right time, He gave me the desire to write about them, and He gives me the Hope that the stories will bless others. I'm no different than the paper they are written on or the ink they are written with, we're all just the tools He is using to do what He does. Thank you Lord for once again reigning me in. You are faithful!

So when I went to church tonight and one of the friends I had given the stories to gave them back with praise and encouragement to go on and write the rest of the stories and I was able to honestly say; "Thank you Lord" and not get carried away with thoughts of my soon to be recognized greatness and fortune.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Cut, Revise, Snip, and Bleed

Editing is a funny business. I've been working on the stories for my 1st book the last few days. Oh how hard it is to cut something out, revise how it's written or snip a few words out of a sentence. Each time I hit the delete key I feel like I'm bleeding to death! But you know what? After it's done, and I go back and read it over, I like it even more! And I can't even remember exactly what it was I cut, revised or snipped.

I'm wondering if anything you write is ever really done? How do you know when it's perfect? I can think a piece is there, and then I read it again in a few days or weeks and see more cutting and snipping is needed. I'd love an answer to that question from a professional, published, or experienced author or editor.

Our Pastor gave a teaching a few weeks ago about how when we let God shine through us it's like brush strokes by God on the canvas of our lives. It so impacted me and I loved it so much I wanted to work it into my book and stories. So the title has changed. It's now (today anyway) called 'Heavenly Artwork On Exhibit' with 'Brush Strokes by God' as the subtitle. I rewrote the ending to the first three stories, revised my Introduction and printed three copies. I handed them out to people I trust to give me honest feedback and now I anxiously await their comments.

On a side note: We went to a dance last night. What fun it was to just kick up our heels, be silly and have good old fashioned fun. A couple of guys from our church organized it, their wives put it together and did all the work to make it happen. Everyone had a great time. The majority vote was to do it again in December. Yay! The Mr. and I learned the basics of the two step. Two steps, sounds pretty simple I know, but it took a lot of work to get 'em down. We'll be practicing and be ready for December, you just wait and see!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Well, it's been a while since I've even been here. Not that anyone would notice, but I was on such a roll and had visions of entries every day. Then I got that darn cold and it laid me low. I'm just about over it now, I only have the annoying cough that always seems to linger too long.

I haven't done a whole lot since I was here last. I entered another writing contest, the weekly challenge on faithwriters.com, I did all the work that I had to do... and the rest of the time I either whined or slept. I haven't had a chance to read anything or do any more studying on social networking. To tell you the truth, I'm actually getting bored with it all... so maybe it's not the right world for me to live in and try and figure out.

I have 234 followers, I keep getting more whether I do anything or not. I've figured out that if I tweet about something I get a bunch of followers that are related to that subject. I've figured out the search aspect of Twitter and how you can search for certain key words and see who has sent out a message with that word in it. Like when I tweeted about how much I love Saturday, I got a whole slew of Seventh Day Adventists following me. When I write something about writing, I get fellow writers following me. I'm getting a lot of tweets about how to get mega followers quickly... so I'm sure this is just one of the simpler methods they are using. I'm also getting tweets about how to make money (of course it's always LOTS of money) on Twitter.
It's kind of interesting to me that the guys that developed Twitter haven't figured out a way to make money off of it but others have? Can we spell S-C-A-M boys and girls? And of course I have to keep blocking those poor girls that want to take their clothes off for me. I do feel bad when I block them, I say a little prayer that they will find something more productive and rewarding to do with their assets.

Well, I hope nobody minds if this blog changes gears a little. I'll keep writing, I just don't know about what for sure. It seems I'm not willing to put in the hours required to learn the whole Social Networking game and be a pro at it. It's not that I can't... I just don't want to. So there!

My heart is in writing, that's all I really want to do. Maybe I should work at seeing how I can make that pay for itself. My biggest problem there is I'm a writer that writes from the heart. "I calls em as I sees em" someone once said. Every time I try and read information on how to make money by writing I end up with a bunch of technical jargon that doesn't make sense to me. I wouldn't know a dangling participle if it knocked me over. All I know is what I want to say and how I say it is how it comes out.

There just doesn't seem to be a hole that is a perfect fit for this peg. I'll keep on keepin on, doing what I'm doing and let the Lord take care of the rest.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

It's just a cold! 9/9/09

Well, I got my web page updated today. www.pamelacalhoun.com I didn't realize how outdated it had become... it still said I was going to start a blog. I need to stay more on top of things!

I'm finding this is a lot of work, having an internet presence. Some days I can think of so many clever (in my opinion) things to say for my Tweets. Other days, like today, I can't think of anything and I'm tempted to put meaningless entries out there, because I've found that as I consistently send out tweets I get followers. I'm not seeing the picture of how exactly that works yet, but I know on the days I send the most tweets I get the most new followers. I'm up to 88 today by the way.

I sent my agent an email updating him on my progress developing an internet presence. I'm sure he'll be pleased. Don't be too impressed by the fact that I have an agent, he hasn't agreed to be my agent... yet. But I've chosen him and I do believe one day he'll take a chance on me. I am beginning to wonder though, if I have my own internet presence, and there are places like faithwriters.com that I can sell my book as an ebook... do I even need an agent?

Just in the nick of time I entered the writing challenge for the week at http://www.faithwriters.com/, If I haven't mentioned it, they have an awesome website where fledgling writers can try their wings in a safe environment and get lots of support and encouragement, along with constructive critisizm. They have a weekly writing challenge and I've entered every week for the last five challenges, so far I haven't placed but I sure do enjoy seeing the responses to my entries.

I caught a cold... that's what I get for leaving the house. I went to church last night and someone there must have brought a visitor that decided to come home with me. I'm always amazed that when someone else gets a cold it's "awww it's just a cold." But when I get a cold I remember how absolutely horrid they are. I'm very angry right now at all those Meth freaks that have made it impossible for me to get my 12 hour can't even tell you have a cold remedy. Anything that works has been pulled from the shelves because of abusers. That really is not fair! But I guess the good news is I'm building immunities.

I hope your day was blessed, see you tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

My Boss is Too Demanding! 9/8/09

I'm serious, she expects me to get so much done in a day. What does she think, I've got six hands and three brains? I just can't keep up with all she wants me to do... my head is spinning, my house is a mess, I've taken no time for me since, since, well I really can't remember since when. So that's it! I've made up my mind I'm putting my foot down! The insanity stops here and now!

Please excuse me while I step over to the mirror and have a little talk with her, will you?

Ok, now that that's settled I can tell you I didn't do much today. I did however manage to sign up with a website that is a spam site. If you get any tweets or facebook friends telling you to go to a questionable site and sign up... DON'T DO IT!

Even though I work for a company that pays me to identify spam websites I didn't notice any of the warning signs for this one until after I was already signed up with them. I'm actually quite embarrassed about that... so if you see me at the water cooler, please don't rub it in.

The Spam Site warning signs to look for are:
Do they give you a way to unsubscribe?
If you click on the links do they go anywhere?
When clicking on links do you end up with... well, ummm, I'm not going to call it porn (I don't want to send anyone there just to look at dirty pictures) but let's just say unrelated or questionable material?
And if you click on a link and get a page showing a lot of text, does it make any sense or is it all gibberish?

All of these are present on this website... we'll see what it is going to cost me in frustration and aggravation down the road. I knew better, I have no defense!

Update; I'm up to 83 followers! WooHoo! I've had to drop and block a few. I know I could just keep them for the numbers, but I do have my standards and I just don't care to see more pictures of Amber Flame in less clothing than she already had on in her mug shot. I had to drop a poor little boy that looked like a scared rabbit and kept telling me to be careful of sex offenders moving into my neighborhood. He posted about 10 times every hour and he was making me paranoid, even though no one new has moved into my neighborhood in years.

So all in all, I had a good and yet frustrating day, pretty much the norm for me. I did get to go to church tonight and enjoyed that thoroughly. I'm looking forward to what will be learned tomorrow. Have a good night all, sleep tight!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Whadya think... Does this look good on me? 9/7/09

I got an email from a friend. She said "go look at my new website." Of course I was interested in seeing what someone else had done and scurried over to http://www.workathomeandlovingit.com/ to see. It's a very well done site in my opinion, lots of good information. If you'd like to work from home but don't know how to get started check it out, she gives the pros/cons, things to watch out for, and links to many places that hire workers that work from home.

One area that her website missed, and I'll have to talk to her about this, is the work at home world of Virtual Assisting. Many companies need help with their company, but don't need a full-time employee, or don't want the overhead of one. They can hire a Virtual Assistant that works from his/her own office and provides support for their business. It's one of the things I do and a good company to sign up with is Virtual Assisting USA. You can check out my profile at www.virtualassistingusa.com/pamelacalhoun . Remember the gal I keep referring to; @salesdirector, the one that told me long ago to develop an internet presence? Well she did just that for Virtual Assisting USA and now they are scheduled to have a story about them in Women's Day magazine! Millions of people will be reading about the world of Virtual Assisting and how it can benefit them. Hopefully many will come to the website and hire Virtual Assistants for their business.

OK, getting back to my friend's new website, she has a section on Blogging and making money with your Blog? Really? Well now, that had certainly never occurred to me... remember my goal is to develop an "internet presence." She has a page, I'm serious, a whole page of websites to go to that will promote your Blog. So that's what I did all day today, went from one to the other trying to understand just what it is they are going to do for me.

If you keep visiting here you'll notice some changes as I experiment with different things they offer to put on my site, all for free. I've learned something about myself that I never knew before. I'm a visual learner. Tell me about it all you want, I won't get very far on the learning curve, but show me... ahhhh that's when it kicks in. So try as I might to learn this new language by reading (it's all making sense why I did so poorly in school now) it's not getting me very far.

I read each website, but because no one is speaking my language, and I don't understand theirs, I've decided to try things on one at a time to see if it's a good fit. I've visited many websites that have wonderful features that I would love to know how to incorporate... but when I ask the site owner, they either talk to me in puter language or they just don't answer.

Another component to consider, since I've chosen to use this free website for my Blog, is just how much can I actually expect it to do for me? There seems to be a theme that runs throughout the internet world... if you want free you only get the basics, if you want more you have to pay. Lots of places offer the basics for free and since my Blog is not making me money, (but what an interesting concept that is, eh?) we are going with free all the way.

Two places on this page I've added features. I'm not sure what they do yet, and the one on the bottom actually added a line in my menu as though it was an entry I made... I don't like that. I don't know how to get rid of the line so I'll probably just have to live with it, I don't know how to add this feature without it being there... I don't even know what the feature does or if I want it yet. Time will tell.

In the meantime... if anything I do sends you an automatic email from my email list, puts you on a mailing list or calls you at 3 o'clock in the morning, I apologize in advance.
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Sunday, September 6, 2009

To Link or not to Link, this is my question. 9/6/09

I'm getting a picture of the whole internet world standing side by side, arms intertwined, swaying to the music and singing "We are Family." Everywhere I go online, I'm offered the option to link. You've probably figured out by now that I'm not a big risk taker and one of my biggest fears is, I will choose an option, regret it, and not remember where to go to unchoose it. On the other hand I can see the beauty of all these links that automatically perform functions that could be a full-time job for a person.

Everyone agrees that if someone makes the choice to follow you, it's only proper and polite to send them a direct message and thank them for the follow. Well, that seems reasonable and I've done it faithfully. But there's a place called http://www.socialoomph.com/ that you can join, for free, and they will automatically send your personalized message to each person that adds you to their follow list. Now I ask you, how cool is that! I've gotten as many as 5 new followers in a day, this will save me lots of time.

So I've signed up and written my "Thank you for following me messages." Yes, I said messages, because you can write multiple messages and they will rotate them for you, so not everyone gets the same Thank You message. I mean, just imagine how impersonal it would seem if two peeps that followed you, from somewhere in the world, compared notes and realized you had sent them both the same message! This is a wonderful feature and now I have more time to be thinking up clever things to Tweet.

I've noticed a pattern in the Tweets I receive from the tweeters I'm following... very few of them ever say anything real. Mostly it's just advertisements; go to my site, look at me, look at my stuff, buy my stuff, read my stuff, rate my stuff. But there are a few that actually say things, such as... what they are doing, or what they like and don't like. Those are the ones I notice when scrolling through. So I've made it my goal to say only real things in my tweets. I don't believe it matters to anyone else, but it matters to me.

I'm told you should only advertise one out of every 10 posts, that's easy for me since I'm not selling anything. Every so often I will direct someone to this blog or to my website, but other than that I just try and say stuff that I'm thinking about, something cheerful and encouraging.

Another reason for my choice to say only real things is I've chosen to link my Facebook page to my Twitter page, (also done through SocialOomph) so everything I post on Twitter automatically goes to my Plaxo page and my Facebook page. I haven't figured out if this is a good feature or not yet. We'll see if my Facebook friends, (mostly friends and family) start taking me off their facebook pages because they just aren't interested in what I'm thinking at the moment. Personally, I think they should indulge me, after all I keep them in my Facebook even though they rarely say anything real. I do however know what color they would be if they were a color, what disney character they are and how their farms and gardens are doing.

Well, that's about it for today. It's the weekend, I do need to give my brain a much needed rest. I continue to slowly gather followers. I can boast that there are 72 peeps in my social network now. You may laugh, but that number seems quite overwhelming to someone that felt very popular with 8. I even have a foreign follower, I can't understand anything he/she says, I don't even know what language it's in... but they are a part of my world and I love them just the same. "We are family...."

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Twitter 101... class begin 9/5/09

OK folks, here we go.... Twitter 101 is now in session.

Laugh if you must, but this is how basic it is for me. If you've already been through kindergarten and know how to hold your crayon you may find this extremely boring. On the other hand you may be amused as you watch the agonizing journey of me stumbling through the learning process.

After spending all week scanning through websites and documents on Twitter, my head was spinning and I was getting agonizingly confused. I decided I need to pick one instructional document and really study it. Of course I picked the one that my previously mentioned mentor sent me (remember the gal, @sales director, with over 4,000 followers,)... by the way, as of this morning I'm up to 64 followers!

This document she sent me is intense! It starts with a basic description of Twitter... paraphrasing: a bunch of people all talking at once, in short sentences. And again, that raises my question from yesterday; if everybody is talking who is listening?

OK, so I'm only 1% of the way through this document and it gives me three links for recommended reading. The first one, which tells me all about Twitter, how it started and how they are trying to figure out a way to make money off of it, is filled with everything Twitter.

Start by signing up for a Twitter account it says. Hey, I've done that, so already this website is making me feel like I'm ahead of the game. After all I have an account AND I have 64 followers! In case you don't have one, that part is simple. Just go to twitter.com and fill in the blanks. You can have more than one twitter account by the way, which I didn't know, and some people actually have many.

Next you may want to choose a background. They have some twitter backgrounds to pick from right on your twitter page, up at the top if you click on Design. But I went to another website that someone actually tweeted me. TwitterBackgrounds.com has over 4,000 free backgrounds to choose from and then also offers the option of paying a fee to have your picture and other information put on your background. I see many custom twitter pages so I'm sure there are lots of options out there to search out... but I don't want to get bogged down on this process so I pick one from the free column and move on.

This webpage is chock full of everything twitter. Maybe you should just check it out for yourself. http://www.webdesignerdepot.com/2009/03/the-ultimate-guide-for-everything-twitter/

Meanwhile I found out about FF = Follow Friday. Follow Friday means that all day on Twitter, peeps post names of other peeps they are following. Sounded to me like a great day to get lots of followers. For some reason it didn't work that way for me... and I ended up with a couple of followers that I didn't want following me. So I learned how to Block! If you don't want to follow someone, you can simply unfollow them, but if you don't want them following you either you can block them. Just click on their name and when you get to their page you'll see an option in the right panel to block them.

After I did this to a couple of very foul mouthed tweeters I read that you can actually report them because cursing is not allowed on Twitter. I like that rule and next time... if I can just remember where I read that and see how to do it!

Oooops! I just dropped to 63 followers. Was it something I said?

You can follow me if you'd like... @shadycovegal

Friday, September 4, 2009

Who reads this stuff? 9/4/09

Here's my problem... I don't understand why they had to invent a new language to explain the new technology!

I'm trying really hard to understand all I'm reading about Social Networking and how everything ties together, I'm getting that, I really am... don't have a clue how to do it, but I do understand the concept now! Every time I go to a website that is supposed to educate me on something like "tweaking your tweets" or "fancying up facebook" it is filled with so much technical jargon, that the website is useless to me. They sometimes offer help by sending me to another website to explain the terms used, but they are explained in more words I don't understand. It's very frustrating!

Whenever I voice this complaint to someone, they generously send me a link to yet another website explaining things, using words I don't understand. My daughter used to have a hampster that ran inside a wheel for hours at a time, but never got anywhere... I'm feeling his pain!

Another mystery I can't explain is how tweeting produces the results it does. You can't argue that it doesn't get results, the proof is in the puddin', (whatever that means), but every time I read someone else's blog, or send a private message asking them how they can handle 762,973 followers... I keep getting the same answer; "oh, I don't read tweets!" So my question is this; "Who is reading the tweets and why are they so effective?"

I've increased my Twitter following from 8 to 55 peeps. I've got three followers on my blog, if I count myself. It's a slow and painful climb so far, I will continue on and master this, my goal is to one day be able to confidently offer my services as an expert in creating your internet presence. Why should we both have to go through all of this? Eh?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Look at that... I'm following myself! 9/3/09

I have one follower... and it's me! LOL

Actually if you picture a dog chasing it's tail... that's about how I feel right now. Everything I am attempting feels so elusive, like I've almost got it... but, but, wait a minute... what was I looking for again?

So Twitter seems to be the foundation of Social Networking today. Who'd a thunk? I imagine that whoever came up with the original idea never dreamed it would become what it is... I speculate that it was birthed out of the text message phenomenon that took over our cell phones, someone saw (there is always someone that will notice what is happening and come up with a brilliant way to 'do it better'), and so that someone came up with Twitter.

I imagine that "someone" saw it as being very popular with the kids, they seem to need to have a continuous connection with each other. I remember in the old days... there she goes again... but I remember when you ran into a good friend you could actually spend some time "catching up" on what's been happening in each other's lives. Whatever, those days are gone. "I'm sitting on the patio" (have you seen the commercial?)

Ok, I get all that, kind of... but now this is where it gets tricky for me. Twitter has become the hub of social networking. I was told this months ago, right after I started my Twitter account. I had eight followers and felt very popular. I went in every few days to catch up and see how everyone was doing. Sometimes there weren't even any new postings. Oh well, everyone must be busy, we do have lives after all.

I was told; "get followers" by someone that had seen the light and knew where this whole Twitter thing was headed. She "got" social networking. Well of course, I didn't listen because why in the world would I want dozens of people in my little twitter world that I didn't even know? That seemed crazy!

Now, let's zoom ahead about 3 months. I talked to an agent, (a publishing agent, because what I really want to be when I grow up is a writer) and he said; "If you had an internet presence that could help promote your work, then I would look at it." He further defined that by "internet presence" he meant over 2,000 Twitter followers, 3,000 Facebook friends, a website, a blog with over 1,000 followers (I have one follower, only 999 to go).

Flashback to 3 months earlier when I was being told "get followers!" I quickly zoomed over to that persons Twitter page... 4,576 followers! Kick me... kick me now!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Social Networking... the joy the pain!

Have you noticed? It's not our world any longer... I'm talking to those of you that are, ahem, over 30... 40... 50, ok, let's just stop there. I remember a day long ago (ok, this is really going to give my age away) when my grandpa was watching a baseball game on his little black and white television. I asked him; "Gramps, why don't you get a color television, you'd enjoy the games so much more." He just grumbled something about how this had been good enough for all these years, don't see why we need to change now. By the way... just so you don't start wondering how I'm keeping one foot out of the grave, color television had been out for quite some time when I asked him this.

I remember thinking; "Boy, I hope I don't ever get that old, stubborn old coot!" Well, yep, you guessed it, here I am! Technology has passed me by, I'm stumbling along trying my best to keep up with the world I live in and I feel like it's leaving me in it's dust.

My newest challenge is to learn "Social Networking." It's the cutting edge method of advertising and promoting for this time we're in. I want to be able to say to you; "I'm competent and capable of leading your company to success through my efforts that will take you into the world of Social Networking and develop your internet presence."

Maybe next week I can say that... for now I'm studying, reading, attempting to slay that grumbly old voice that constantly keeps trying to say; "I don't know why we had to change everything... it seemed to work fine the way it was."