New Habits – Project Thankful: Reason #220

Today, I signed into my email accounts to check my mail. Judging from the numbers of new emails I saw in my inboxes, I would say I haven’t checked my email in a few days.

This isn’t the first time I’ve noticed I haven’t checked my mail in a while. Every week, I seem to be disconnecting from email earlier and earlier. At first, it was on Saturdays; I would not check my email the following day (Sundays), but I would resume my checking emails again on Mondays. Then Saturdays became Fridays. And now, Fridays are bordering on Thursdays.

Don’t get me wrong. I have the “Mail” app on my phone synced to the primary email address I give for my work and school, and I check that quite a bit. The other accounts, however, I do not check as much. And I’m good with that.

When did this new habit of checking email less often, of being less concerned if the world is going to end if I do not sign into this account or that account to see if *gasp* someone sent me a coupon for 15% this weekend only?  I was looking over past “Project Thankful” postings, and I think my more relaxed attitude about email might just have something to do with this writing project.  Because the people and things I am most thankful for, the things that inspire me to write these posts, aren’t found in emails or inboxes or on the Internet.  They are found in a time and space know as Life, something that has existed before computers and Internet and even cell phones.  And Life?  Well, it will continue no matter how many emails I get.

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Project Thankful: Reason #206

Have a great weekend!

I’ve decided I’m taking the weekend off from blogging.  It’s going to be a beautiful, sunny weekend that is not going to be too hot.  The type of weekend meant to enjoyed doing any number of activities, none of which include being glued to the computer.

I think our culture emphasizes constantly being “connected” as in continually being online or technologically available via social media, text, even phone calls.  This weekend I will be connected, just not necessarily on social media.

Project Thankful: Reason #155

Right now, the little icon at the top of my screen that tells me how many people have viewed this blog within the past 48 hours is reading 0.  Whenever I see that, I consider it be quiet around my blog, the same way a shop would be if there were no customers or a slow day.  My blog being quiet allows me to regroup, to be more reflective in a way because it feels like no one is watching, a rather odd statement considering this is a blog, as in social media, as in the Internet.

I’m thankful for the quiet.  Sometimes, we need the quiet to find the answer we’re looking for, that idea to propel us forward.

Project Thankful: Reason #41

I look at the students.  Each one is different, individual, yet there is a similar thread among most students which could be labelled technology.  More specifically, a seemingly instinctive desire to possess and consume technology.  Smart phones, tablets, iPods…these and other types of technology dominate their lives.

As I look at these students, I can not help but be amazed at how different my own high school years were.  Electronic devices were not an issue among my class because we did not have devices such as what is on the market today.  The result of this lack of modern technology was that we learned how to get through the day without the help of smart phones.  We talked to each other in person as opposed to texting, tweeting, Snapchatting, and Facebooking one another.  We brought books not assigned to us to read.  Doodling could be found in our notebooks, on the margins, and on the backs of our worksheets.  Work was done in school because after school allotted for a few available hours to be spent wisely to avoid a severe lack of sleep.  We remained busy because there was always something to do.

The work remains among today’s students, and I do see that productive attitude illustrated by students.  What I also see among many students is a need to be entertained by electronics, a sort of dependence on electronics to get through the school day.

This post is not meant to bash technology or students.  The purpose of this post is to give thanks, and I am thankful.  I am thankful to have grown up without today’s technology.  That I had a cassette player, a boom box, a CD player, an album to store my CDs, a VHS player, a beeper, and change in case I ever had to use a payphone (which I did).  Oh, and the Internet?  That was a slow dial up with a good chance of randomly being kicked off; once on, IM was what today’s texting is, and you had to log off if someone needed to use the phone.

Why am I thankful to have grown up without today’s technology?  Because it makes me thankful for today’s technology.  And that I know how to survive without my smart phone (but would not like to). 

Why I’m Good Without Twitter

Despite the title of this blog post, I do in fact have Twitter.  Two Twitter accounts to be more exact.  I rarely log onto Twitter, however, and when I do my total time spent on the site is less than five minutes.

One of the pieces of advice the online world (aka Google search) gave to me when I was getting ready to publish my e-books was to expand my social media presence, including creating a Twitter account where I should tweet several times a day.  At first, I tried the Twitter thing.  I followed people and some people followed me as well.  I would tweet to promote my books with the occasional tweet about my day thrown in there as well.

What I’ve found is that I’m good without Twitter.  Yes, it’s a way to promote my books, and I did use it as such.  After a while though, my tweets felt to me like flashy, stiff billboard advertisements or infomercials.  And that’s not how I want to feel about anything I write, be it a tweet or a Facebook status.

I’m more of a blogger than a tweeter when it comes to social media.  For me, blogging is a better way for people to get to know me and to get to know my books if they are interested.  It also helps that I’m not confined to 140 characters when I blog.  More room for writing.

Help With Kindle Formatting For Your Manuscript

Last night, I was reading a post on thinkinglazy (thinkinglazy.wordpress.com) about how the blogger has decided to publish their story on Amazon Kindle.  As I was reading their post, I had a déjà vu moment because around this time last year was when I really thought more about publishing my books on Amazon Kindle.  After conquering my fear of heading out into the great unknown – the Internet – I published both books on Kindle the end of last summer.

When I decided I was going to publish on Kindle, I began doing my research on manuscript formatting.  My head felt like it was spinning worse than on an upside down rollercoaster.  There was no red, bolded section on the Kindle formatting guides I found that read: The Way You Wrote Your Manuscript Is the Wrong Format, You Will Have To Completely Reformat It This Way.  Instead, I was left searching for simple instructions that did not make me feel like a total tech loser on how to format my manuscripts so that they would not look extremely distorted on Kindles.

In all my research, I found one site that was the most useful.  It’s an article written on the site WOW! Women On Writing, and it is appropriately titled “How 2 Format Your Manuscript for Kindle and/or NOOK.”  This is the link to the article: http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/46-How2-FormatManuscriptForKindle.html

I hope it helps!  As always, best of luck with your writing!

Making the Internet My Minion

Lately I have been having an energy burst when it comes to writing and doing the things writers should do in terms of tweeting, blogging, and over all just trying to reach out to the audience more.  At first I thought it might have to do with some planet entering a moon phase or some other astrological explanation, but I think the reason behind this focus is more ordinary: I do not like my job.

No, not my job as a writer.  I have been working as a substitute teacher for the past year and a half, and to say that I thought my life would be different by now is putting it mildly.  Substitute teaching was the first job I was able to get out of college (thank you, economy) and no, I do not want to be a teacher nor did I go to college to become one.  I was an English major who wanted to get a job writing for a newspaper or magazine.  Because I wrote a column for my college newspaper and was the assistant editor for Arts & Entertainment for a chunk of time, I thought when it came time to apply for the job I wanted I stood a good chance.  Oh what they do not tell you in Career Services.

Despite not getting the job I thought I would post-graduation, I came out of my first year substitute teaching being able to say that I enjoyed my job.  Then a lot of somethings happened.  As I mentioned in my last blog post, I fully realized I want to be a writer and started taking steps towards having the life I always wanted.  I also realized come the start of the school year that somewhere along the line I outgrew substitute teaching.

The first year I subbed provided me with a platform, the space I needed to figure my life out and to actually answer that age-old question of “What do I want to do with my life?”  As I started my second year I am currently in, I felt like substitute teaching has morphed into this dollhouse; when I was younger I had this pink dollhouse that I thought was so huge, but when I was older I looked at it and it was not as big anymore (in fact I felt big looking at it).  Unfortunately the economy is still such that this is still the only job I can get (and believe me, I searched for others and applied).

Instead of letting my dislike fester, I decided to channel my frustration into my writing career.  I am finally getting good about tweeting, blogging, and not dragging my feet to actually sit down and, well, write.  On Twitter I am tweeting every day now, and more than once at that.  I created author pages on Amazon and Goodreads that include my biography.  I am spreading the word about my books, bringing out my inner marketing persona (she wears black stilettos I would otherwise be too afraid of wearing out of fear of breaking my ankle and is the equivalent of mental dynamite in board rooms).  In other words, I have made the internet my minion in building my writing universe.