Thursday Thoughts on Friday

facebook-thankful-reactionOkay. This is just going to be a lot of rambling.

The new grateful reaction on facebook is the my favoritest thing since they took away the bulletin boards and buttons. I’m using it for everything. I’m really not all that grateful. I just like the flower.

Last night’s Big Bang episode surprised me, big time. But it didn’t shock me, which is the sign of great writing to me, when something happens that you didn’t see coming, but isn’t so out-there that it’s unrealistic.

Baby Groot makes me happier than puppies. Seriously. Also there’s a facebook page for Baby Groot. I loved Guardians 2 and baby groot was the best part of it. Not nearly enough of Chris Pratt dancing though.

I always knew that the Trump presidency was going to be this bad. I always knew it was going to be non-stop bone-jarring drama. But I never foresaw the President of the United States threatening the FBI director he fired–a man who was investigating said President–via twitter. There are too many words too describe just how terrible this is.

The city next door to us is in the middle of a man-hunt for a dangerous guy with a gun who shot and killed his girlfriend. I am not sure what I’m supposed to do with that information.

I got flowers for Mum’s day from one of my sons. The card says Happy Mother’s day, Mom but there’s no name. Now I have to text them and hope I don’t accidentally “shame” the one who did not send me flowers.

It’s going to rain here all day Sunday. For an introverted mother, that’s kind of a mother’s day gift. I think I’ll create a menu for myself.

And that’s all I got. Hopefully next week will be calmer and my brain will work better.

Thursday Thoughts, Trigger Warnings In Books

My coffee does not look anywhere near this good. I’d have to leave the house for that. It’s cold and grey here in New England and I am doing everything I can not to lpexels-photo-67514eave the house. There’s precious little food in the fridge, though and I’m currently wondering if my husband would be happy with ramen pride “casserole” with canned chicken. Probably not.

Also, I continue to be flummoxed by how wordpress decides to put pictures in its posting area. Also, I love the word flummoxed. I’m going to use it a few times today.

So, trigger warnings. This started in a facebook group as it seems a lot of my posts do these days. And that’s a grammatically terrible sentence, but whatever. It’s dreary today. Anyway, somebody said that he thought trigger warnings were ridiculous and people shouldn’t do them. Naturally, about 150 million other people jumped on to complain (it was really more like 10) about his complaint. Then, naturally, another 150 million people (probably more like 10) came back to defend his complaint often in pretty ugly ways. It  went downhill from there. If you have never seen these kind of things on facebook, good for you. You have good friends and have found that secret, loving spot of the internet that many of us are looking for.

Anyway, I had never even heard of trigger warnings in books so I was flummoxed by the whole thing, but mostly by the anger and vitriol. (See how I fit today’s favorite word in there? Man, I wish I had not found that coffee picture. Mine is pretty boring in comparison.) I was immediately resistant to the idea as I am about anything that says I have to do more work. But then I went to bed and thought about it for awhile. I came up with 3 points.

  1. Trigger warnings are a nicety, a courtesy, from a writer to a reader that lets them know the writer is concerned with readers’ well-being. Done well, it doesn’t give away the story, nobody is harmed and it doesn’t take up a whole lot of space. In that respect, doing it isn’t that big a deal (or a whole lot of work).
  2. Trigger warnings are another way to stop the wrong people from reading your book and then giving it a terrible review. If you warn them and somebody does give it a bad review, then it’s on them. Pretty sure anybody who reads the review will dismiss it at that point.
  3. Some people like gritty stories. A trigger warning might actually intrigue more readers than it loses. And frankly, I am not going to go any further down that road because it looks kind of icky.

Finally, not a point I made on that page (I can’t find the post anymore. It might have been taken down) but why not try to spare somebody suffering from PTSD the pain? There was a whole lot of anger over the idea of doing this, and for the life of me I can’t understand why. If you don’t want to put the warning in your book, then don’t. Why are you (not you personally but you as in the angry people) so enraged by people who want to spare other people discomfort or downright disabling thoughts and recollections? It doesn’t make sense to me, but a lot things don’t make sense to me, which is part of the reason I’m a writer. I’m trying to make sense of the world I live in. So far, it’s a bust.

Here are some basic thoughts on the subject: you don’t need to put trigger warnings on books that the reader should know, just by being a person in the 21st century, are going to contain some nasty stuff. Horror books, war books, serial killer thrillers and probably some gritty cop stories. Trigger warnings in other genres, like murder mysteries, apocalyptic and dystopian genres, like what I write, may or may not be useful. Some readers may assume that violence could happen. Others may not, so it can go either way.

On the other hand, genres that a reader expects to be “safe”–cozy mysteries, most romances, and probably young adult–could really use a warning if you’re throwing something rough in there. One of my historical romances has a kind of nasty rape scene at the end (the heroine has a flashback and her memories are horrifyingly graphic). I feel it’s needed in the story for the reader to truly understand her motives, but I’ve always been a little uneasy about it. I do not want to traumatize readers. Make them (you) uncomfortable now and again? Yeah, if it makes you think. If it helps bring about a conversation in your head about society or the people in your life or whatever. Sometimes the greatest clarity we have starts with uncomfortable thoughts or emotions. But I don’t want readers curled up in ball, unable to move because they are reliving some terrible part of their lives. I don’t want to be the reason for a 2 am phone call to a therapist or a trip to the ER. So that book will get a warning.

While writing The PostPlague Trilogy I have considered friends of mine who have been victims of domestic abuse. I have thought about people who have escaped really terrible regimes in other countries (or maybe non-regimes like ISIS) and how they would react to brutality of the world I created. I suspect some people would find Neri’s fight and her wins to be the comforting. Good conquers Evil stuff, yes you can win in your life too! But not everybody will feel that way and I would never, ever want to hurt a friend. I don’t want to hurt people who would be my friends if I met them either.

Each author has to make this decision themselves. Each author should weigh the pros and cons of losing readers who might have liked their books, violence and all, if they hadn’t been warned, compared to finding readers who re-live past horrors because of the book and end up hating the author for life. This is not a simple “left or right” decision. It’s part humanitarian and part marketing.

For me, I feel like The PostPlague Trilogy is by default violent. It’s pretty clear from the blurb that this is a brutal society and there will be some terrible stuff in the book. But readers still may not actually realize that. So I will, because of that, put a short warning in my books. Just as soon as I get off the sofa, get dressed and get out to the local coffee shop for that coffee up there in the post picture.

Thursday Thoughts, Website Challenges

coffee-cup-1239643-640x480This week, I’m trying to come up with a better website. I don’t know why I didn’t just stick with using this blog with a static page as a website, but nope, I did not want to do that. I think it had something to do with wanting more widget options, although how I could use those options I don’t know. I just wanted ’em.

So I found a video (I’ll post below) by a guy who seems to know how to do this well. He uses wordpress.org and the themes made for wordpress to do this. It seems a lot simpler than using dreamweaver, which I have done before and had to learn about padding and boxes and stuff.

Why do I always think things will be easy?

First I got stuck with hostgator. My domain name is with godaddy. My on-line/writing life is fragmented enough so I wanted to transfer domain names and have everything in one place. This, apparently, requires Knowing Stuff. I do not know stuff. I don’t know what DNS means and I honestly don’t want to know what it means. During one of 4 phone calls I asked because people were throwing it around like candy at a parade (bear with me. It’s early and I’m metaphorically challenged) so I asked what DNS stands for. Guess what? I don’t remember. I forgot before I got off the phone. They also like to say “propogate” a lot. It’s a word they like.

(Takes sip of coffee. Checks facebook to see if I made anybody laugh yet today.)

By the end of Tuesday I was in tears. Real ones. But finally, finally something worked well enough that I could work on the website. Also, I got the dedicated email account that I needed. I think it’s what a dedicated email is. It could be a wishy-washy email account. I haven’t used it yet, so I’m pretty sure it is. Still, I need it to do mailerlite automation emails, which I’m supposed to do, but haven’t because I am as wishy-washy as my dedicated email on my DNS thingy. In other words, if you’ve signed up for my newsletter, you aren’t actually getting any news. Pretty sure you are all right with that, though, for now, until I start writing my little backstory stories for the PostPlague Trilogy characters and sending them out (Did I say I was going to do that? Well now you know I intend upon doing that.)

I started work. By “work” I mean finding the Theme I want. This is not easy for someone who waffles between paper and plastic at the grocery store and always feels guilty about the choice. ie: Should I pay more money to Big Oil and continue to fund wars in the Middle East while destroying the earth with plastic that will not break down? Or should I choose paper and kill trees, rob the earth of much needed O2 from rain forests being destroyed? Either way I’m killing the earth. You can’t win on that one.

Anyway, like U2, I still haven’t found what I’m looking for. There are lots of themes. They don’t really explain what you can customize until you install and activate. Even then the customization is not always easily-knowable and I have no freaking clue what a slider is. People are excited about them, apparently, because they talk a lot about how great their theme is because it has a slider.

What I want is a page that lets me customize colors, will allow for full-width because I don’t always want sidebars, and a header/picture. Now sure why this is such a difficult concept. I’d think it’s what everybody wants. On the other hand, I’ve been on this earth for a few decades now, and I still always think I want what everybody else wants and am often flabbergasted that that it is not true. Why don’t people want to read about a dystopian world with a cool star symbol, and tattoos and a female heroine who cries a lot because killing people in terrible ways is upsetting to her, but she treks onward anyway because killing people is the only way to stop people dying. . .also, more women doing action-y things than men. Of course everybody wants to read that!

Well not yet, at any rate.

Finally I googled WordPress Themes for Authors. Yeah. Not helpful. I googled wordpress words because I want to know what they mean by sliders etc. Not helpful there. Apparently this is yet another thing everybody knows by osmosis and is something I will have to learn through trial and error, which is my most-hated and most-oftened used learning method. If I ever write a book about my life–which I won’t–I would title it Trial and Error, Mostly Error.

I also have to come up with either 1) a good picture or 2) a good header. I’m using Canva for that. Can I make a decision on that? Nope. I’ve tried putting the star symbol on a plain blue header and my name. I’ve tried using the ghosted virus symbol on a header with a train and wrote PostPlague Trilogy, I’ve tried ghosting a temple and putting the symbol over that. I love it all. I hate it all. I am driving Sir Tom–husband and collaborator–nuts. Two nights in a row he’s said, “It’s 9:30. You should knock off for the night.” That’s his way of saying, “I need to not think about this right now.” I answer with “I will in just a minute” which is my way of saying, “I am obsessed and will be doing this at 12 am long after you are a sleep.”

So that’s where I am. Those are my Thursday thoughts. I guess I should put the video in, huh? Also, I’ll add some of the headings and pictures I’ve come up with, because hey, why not? I have yet to commit to a shutterstock image so I haven’t bought one yet, so they say shutterstock.

Video. Okay, apparently I don’t know how to put one in. Also, I use apparently a lot. Also, also. Here is a link. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xiB0HPMy4GE&t=1137s

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ThePostPlagueTrilogy

Thursday thoughts

I just got back from my yearly physical. We discussed exercise, something I know I should do, something that truly makes me feel better in almost all aspects, and something I absolutely despise. She, like so many people, said that means I just haven’t found the exercise that’s right for me. The truth is, there is no exercise that’s right for me. I hate it all. I am a happily sedentary person.

She also kept talking about “classes.” I do really love this woman, and I enjoy going to see her. She is very good at her job, but she’s obviously an extravert. I told her I am an introvert and I didn’t want to go to classes because there are people. She said I didn’t have to talk to them if I didn’t want to. And this, right here, is where the gap between extraversion and introversion–or at least my kind of introversion–is so large that it seems impossible to bridge it.

I am not an HSP (highly sensitive person). I have friends who are, which is a blessing to me and sort of a curse to them. I am no more affected by loud noises than the average person, and messes and clutter bother me not-at-all. I am not particularly sensitive to
“loud” or garish colors, or smells. I am extremely sensitive to touch, but in terms of sensory stimulus, that’s the only place I’m “extra”.

Unless you throw people in the mix.

Garish clothing I notice. High voice, low voices, soft voices, loud voices I notice. I hear, I almost “see” tone changes. I note word choices. I am affected by smells. I take in every facial expression, every bit of body language. I pick up consciously and subconsciously all information and my brain tries to process it. This happens if I am see someone walking down a food isle in a store. It happens when I walk the neighborhood. It happens with every person I encounter. And the more people, the more information, the more stimulus, the more exhaustion.

I couldn’t explain this to her. I can’t seem to explain it to extroverts in general. Part of the reason is that I don’t want to come off sounding “special” or extremely observant or any manner of “superior.” That’s not how I feel at all. So I didn’t say that. I don’t say that to people. I’m writing it, instead.

And here’s the thing–I don’t know if I am actually more bombarded with these things than other people, or if they just handle it better. Does my NP go to a class and the same thing comes at her but she has some ability to turn it off that I don’t? Is it always working? Is this something I just need to learn to do? If someone has a secret he/she isn’t sharing, I would appreciate the information. Now. I mean right now, because I am terrible at turning “it” off. I could close my eyes to shut down the sight information, but I will still hear–movement, sighs, even the increase or decrease breathing patterns. And words, and speech patterns in those words. Accents and the choice of words and the hesitation or strength.

If you shut down sight and sound, then feel and smell will kick in. I can feel people approaching or moving away. Maybe others do too; I don’t know. I just know I do. The sense of smell will heighten. This is all why when I created in the PostPlague series the Social category the opposite is Observer.

And so, no. Classes will not make exercise better for me, because the more people there, the more I am bombarded with information. The less people there, the more I feel like I should communicate with the other members. It is not that I don’t like people. I do. A lot. I love social media because I can “be” with people but I have only the written word to work through as cues. It is much, much easier for me to have conversations without all the extraneous information and honestly, I can usually pick up feelings and emotions through the words people use. What they say. What they don’t. How long or short answers or comments are. How quickly they come. And it is all one sentence at a time instead of a barrage of other information. It will tire me out because of all the processing, but at a much, much slower pace.

And that’s this week’s thoughts.