Misfit Monday: When Facebook Sucks

I’m such a Looooooooser!

Have you ever felt like this: You’re cruising around on Facebook, clicking links, Liking posts, catching up on all your hundreds of friends’ statuses–oh, look, over there on the right, your friend just Liked something else. Your brother made a funny observation. Your friends’ baby said his first word–and it was “daddy,” your sisters’ kid just got a full-ride scholarship to an A-list college, your cousin just sold a novel–to a big, NY  publisher, in a three-book deal; your friend over there just sold a zillion copies of her self-published book (which means she’ll be making a cool three-zillion dollars come Amazon Payday), your friend from high school just hit the lottery…

and you’re ready to pick up your computer and toss it through the window??

While you’re sneaking that look at Facebook as you take a short break from the same job you’ve had for years, after getting the upteenth rejection from a publisher on the book you wrote that you were sure was IT, while your self-published book molders in the five-millions in the Amazon rankings, and your kid brought home a report card full of C’s, your other kid needs to be picked up from detention, and the electric bill’s past due because it was buried in the pile of crap that never leaves the kitchen table???

Yeah, I know, me too. OK, things aren’t quite like the above paragraph, but definitely not like the first!

And it’s not just Facebook–it’s Twitter, and blogs, and Tumblr, and Pinterest…


I’m not talking simple social media overload, I’m talking when it seems like everyone but you is doing great things, having great things happen to them, their perfect family, their awesome tons-of-money-making job, you name it. While you’re pretty much standing still.

In the old days, this could have been called Holiday Newsletter Syndrome, you know, when it seems every other Christmas card you open contains one of those newsletters where everything is wonderful and while you feel happy for your friends, you can’t help but feel like you’re a big, stagnant LOSER.

Of course, we don’t put the bad stuff in those holiday newsletters–or if we did, it’s something we gloss over and that was, of course, no fault of the writer’s–a death in the family, perhaps, “we miss her, but we’re getting through it.” And we don’t usually put that stuff on social media either, because who wants to read a whiner? “(Sigh) another rejection” or, “my publisher’s dropping me because I didn’t even come close to earning out my advance,” or “well, that’s nice for her; I sold a whopping three ebooks last month on Amazon.” It’s easy to tell ourselves  people don’t post stuff like this, but it’s still tough not to feel like a big, stagnant LOOOOOOOSER.

In the 2004-6 or so, I read a lot of blogs–industry blogs, and a lot of authors’ blogs, which back then, were “Follow me on my road to publication!” And over those couple of years, many of those authors did indeed sell to publishers. So many, eventually, that it seemed everyone was writing something like: “Oh, look! My contracts arrived today.” Or, “Squeeee! I got cover art and it’s beyoooooootiful!” or “I hit the best seller list again this week!”

It got to the point that with each blog post like that I read (and it seemed most of them were like that, for a while), I got more and more bummed out. It wasn’t that I begrudged those authors their succes; I just wanted a little of something like it for myself.

Finally, I realized it had to stop–not the successes, or even the blog posts, but me reading them. I unsubscribed from one blog after another, until I stopped reading blogs altogether.

Most of the blogs I read now are either strictly industry-focused, or they’re authors blogging about something besides writing. Some of them are further along than me in their careers, some are just getting started. Their blogs are fun to read, and it’s fun to cheer them on. Some of them come to my blog and cheer for me, too, and that means a lot.

And guess what? Facebook’s the same way. Sometimes it’s one big cheering section, other time’s it’s better to just step away, sometimes because of time constraints, sometimes when Holiday Newsletter Syndrome threatens. But I don’t stay away for long.

What about you? Do you ever get Holiday Newsletter Syndrome? Ever need to step away from Facebook, blogs, Twitter, whatever? Or does it roll off you, no matter how far along you are(n’t) in your career? Please tell me I’m not alone! And if you haven’t already, maybe Like me on Facebook? 😀

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

Another Answer, and Giveaway!

It’s Day Six of the Samantha Warren’s birthday bash Blog Scavenger Hunt, and there’s an answer to be found somewhere on this site! You may have to go back in the blogs a few weeks… or you may need to check out other pages on the site. 😀

Answer the questions by emailing Samantha for a chance to win prizes! Included in today’s prizes is a free ebook of Time’s Enemy! You’ll also be entered to win the free Kindle she’s giving away at the end of the week.

Have fun, and happy scavenger-hunting!


Don’t forget, there are fantastic buys on E-books at the Booklovers’ BuffetTime’s Enemy and nearly 150 other ebooks are on sale for $0.99 each. So stop by – there’s sure to be something you’ll enjoy, and you can load up without gaining a pound (or a kilogram, for our friends outside the US)!

There are Answers Hidden Here!

It’s Day Three of the Samantha Warren’s birthday bash Blog Scavenger Hunt, and there’s an answer to be found somewhere on this site! You may have to go back in the blogs a few weeks… or you may need to check out other pages on the site. 😀

Answer the questions by emailing Samantha for a chance to win prizes! You’ll also be entered to win the free Kindle she’s giving away at the end of the week.

Have fun, and happy scavenger-hunting!


Looking for fantastic buys on E-books? Then look no further than the Booklovers’ Buffet! Time’s Enemy and nearly 150 other ebooks are on sale for $0.99 each – there’s sure to be something you’ll enjoy at the buffet!

A Kinder, Gentler To-do List; Blog Scavenger Hunt

Last week, I was overwhelmed – and the holiday season was just beginning! My writing was suffering – there just weren’t enough hours in the day. It was stressful, and all I wanted to do was play computer games.

That was not acceptable. Something had to be done.

I looked at my to-do list, which had grown to epic proportions. Each day, there were more things on it than anyone could hope to accomplish in the time I had! I remembered an email I’d read – from the Flylady list, I think – that said we tend to put far more on our lists than we can possibly do in a day. I had a lot of things on mine that had been on there for months, and I still hadn’t gotten to them!

It was time to be ruthless. Anything that wasn’t really that important was gone.

This little button = less stress!

Other tasks – stuff to do when I had some spare time (LOL) or after New Year’s, when I planned to kick my book promo efforts up, went onto another, separate list.

Stuff I did every week, and had finally developed into enough of a habit that I didn’t really need it on the to-do list anymore, also went bye-bye.

My stress level immediately went down.

Now, the list has expanded once again, but a lot of that is one-off, holiday tasks. And a lot of those are easy, little things that don’t take a ton of time, but that I might not get to or remember if I don’t note them. And the weekly list? Down to four things at the moment, included in the above.

What’s your to-do list look like? Do you routinely put way too much on it? Or do you make one that’s more realistic – if you make one at all? Any more tips for managing that list? Please share!

Just for Fun

I am participating in a blog scavenger hunt, posted by one of my writer colleagues, Samantha Warren. Samantha writes fantasy, and is turning 30 today. To celebrate, she’s hosting a week’s worth of scavenger hunt fun and prizes. The grand prize is a new Kindle e-reader! There are a bunch of other cool prizes – one or two every day, including an e-copy of Time’s Enemy. So stop by and wish Samantha a happy birthday, and check out some of those blogs to see if you can answer a few questions and win!

ROW80 Update:

I did not post a Wednesday ROW80 update this week, as I had nothing to report. That will probably continue to be my pattern, as the Wednesday blog post update is something else I’m taking off my list.

I did meet my goal of getting Chapter 17 revised – wow, was that one a lot of work! – and I exceeded my type-in goal, and completed two chapters.

However, this pace is not satisfactory. So this week, I want to:

  • Finish type-in through Chapter 9. Type-in is something I can do while the TV’s on, and interruptions are much less of a problem, so hopefully this goal is within reason.
  • Get Christmas decorating done
  • Order Christmas cards
  • Figure out gifts
  • Begin online shopping, especially gifts that are needed sooner than Christmas for events, party exchanges, etc.

By the way, my overall goals have been shot to hell, a long time ago. I didn’t realize how badly until I just now looked up the original goal post. Stop laughing! Let’s just refine the goals right now. I just want to get this edit done, and out to the beta readers. That’s i! And I still fear it may be too ambitious, but I’m going to try, because readers are waiting for this book! If that’s not motivation, I don’t know what is.

How are your goals coming?

Wacky Words: Alas, I Digress

Another place you'll see ALAS and DIGRESS

Today’s going to be a short one, folks, but something that’s made me go “huh” for a long time: Are there certain words and phrases we only use in writing?

Of course, there’s jargon and the occasional formal term (especially legal) that don’t typically occur in spoken conversation, but I’m talking about ordinary, everyday English, and not words that have simply fallen out of use – they’re just not used verbally.

One such word is alas. I can’t remember the last time I heard someone say “alas,” or even if I’ve ever heard it. It’s not obsolescent; I’ve seen it in written form far more than I’d like. The same is probably true for any writer who’s tried the query-coaster of submitting work to publishers, agents or magazines, as the most common use for “alas” seems to be on the lines of, “Alas, we regret that this doesn’t meet our current needs.” Which is probably why “alas” is a word I’m not particularly fond of. 🙂

Another word – or phrase, rather – that I see written often, but seldom hear, is “but I digress.” Bloggers digress a lot! I try not to, but I’m sure I do. I just don’t tell you about it. 😀 Digression happens on a regular basis while eating lunch with my coworkers. No one ever acknowledges it.

Can you think of other ordinary words that you see often in written form, but hardly ever hear spoken? Curious minds want to know!

Dictionary photo by Dr. Marcus Gossler via wikipedia.org, Creative Commons license

I won an award! Just for fun, the Versatile Blogger Award

Okay, not a real award, like the Rita, or even the Wrters Digest 100 most useful blogs, but what the heck, it’s fun. You can play too, as long as you play by the rules (at least somewhat):

1. Thank and link to the person who nominates you.

Thanks to my writer friend, Stacy McKitrick! Stacy keeps a fun blog called Stacy’s Rantings and Whatnot, where she rants writes about TV, writing, sports, travel and whatever else strikes her fancy. Check her out!

2. Share seven random facts about you.

Hmm, this one was kinda tricky. I mean, I’m not that interesting. That’s why I make stuff up! So anyway…

  • Some stuff I like - and some I don't

    I hate, I mean loathe, green peppers and celery. I can deal with the latter if it’s cooked, as that takes out the stringy texture and mostly kills the taste, or I pick them out if they’re not tiny, but peppers tend to leech into the surrounding food upon cooking, which pretty much ruins whatever it is for me.

  • I bought a car. Turned out to be an alien robot, who knew? I ordered it a month before it even went into production. It came with new friends, who knew?
  • I can curl my tongue, and make the Vulcan “live long and prosper” gesture. It always surprises me that there are people who can’t do this, including my husband and daughter!
  • Despite my artistic background, I never was able to get into scrapbooking, quilting, knitting, crocheting, or anything like that. I do like sewing clothing, though – I wish I had more time to do it. I’ve made numerous sweatshirts, dresses, hats, slacks, bridesmaid dresses, and even a wedding dress for one of my college roommates. The dress outlasted the marriage, but she’s been happily married to husband #2 for over 10 years now.
  • I am a Dale Carnegie graduate, which came in really helpful when…
  • I met my husband at a bar. If not for DCC, I wouldn’t have kept talking when the mutual friend who introduced us be-bopped off to talk to someone else and left me at a table with him. I started dating him after I paid him $400 to fix my car. I figure I’ve gotten my money’s worth – quite a few times over, as we’ve now been married 17 years!

    My Earliest Memory

  • The earliest thing I can remember is going to get my dad’s new car – a ’69 Camaro – when I was 2-1/2. I mostly remember the weird look on my mom’s face when we went to the dealership, which I later found out was because she’d had no idea my dad bought a car! It’s still in the family, too – my brother spent two years restoring it, and it’s beautiful!

3. Pass this Award along to 15 recently discovered blogs and let them know about it!

Well, I’m only going to list a few, as most blogs I follow are mostly about writing. Some of these aren’t so new to me, either. If you’ve already received this award (or don’t do memes like this), you can repeat it, or ignore, no problem. Everyone else – these are some fun blogs I follow that aren’t all about writing, so check them out!

The Evil Jim Winter – Edged in Blue

Athena Grayson

Michele Stegman – Thoughts from a Writer’s Block

Catie Rhodes – Full Tilt Backwoods Boogie

Julie Glover

My Town Monday – a group of writers who collect links from the comments – fun facts about places all over! Anyone can participate, so if you’re looking for blog topics, MTM is a good way to get them – and share!

Woman carrying a basket of bread and vegetables photo via Microsoft Office Clipart

Feed Me! Or, the basics about RSS Feeds for non-technical folk

Last week I took a wonderful class on social media taught by Kristen Lamb, which included discussion on blogging.

At one point, I asked a question about RSS feeds, and discovered that a lot of people have no idea what they are. And of those who do, some say RSS is on its way out. (Not sure I agree, but that’s another blog post.)

Simply put, RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication.” An RSS feed is basically a dump of recently-posted blogs (or other content) in a specific format that’s easily readable by software or web applications called feed readers. If you are on someone’s blog and you see a link to “Subscribe,” chances are it links to an RSS feed. On many blogs and sites with frequently updated content, you can identify an RSS feed. RSS feeds are often identified by the standard RSS image: Subscribe to RSS Feed

What’s great about RSS is it’s an easy way to keep up with multiple blogs or other content that’s frequently updated by collecting all the new content in one place (and only the new content, unless you specify otherwise).Typically, they let you categorize your blogs as well, and provide links to save clips, email, Like on Facebook, Tweet, etc. A popular feed reader is Google Reader.

Google Reader

Google Reader

You can keep track of, and read, all your blogs here. If you want to read your blogs on a tablet or phone, there are probably a variety of apps available, for free or low cost.  An RSS Feed Reader has been built in to the Internet Explorer web browser since version 7.

 Internet Explorer's built-in RSS reader

So why is RSS important?

  • The main reason is, it’s a convenience for your reader, and you want to make your blog as easy to get as possible for your audience.
  • It helps you get the word out when you have new content. RSS feeds are indexed by search engines, and readers who subscribe to your feed know about your updates as soon as they open their feed readers.
  • Readers who otherwise might not be able to view your blog, can often read it in a feed reader. Where I work, anything slightly resembling a personal page or entertainment is blocked. But Google Reader is not. OK, I admit it – I read blogs at work. Hey! I’m not goofing off – I read them during break and while I’m waiting for slow software scripts to run. And thanks to Google Reader’s email feature, if I see a blog I need to comment on (or read other readers’ comments), I email it to myself so I remember to do that later.

What can you do

  • First, make sure your blog is set to generate an RSS feed. Most (if not all) blogging software automatically generates an RSS feed by default. Some programs let you choose whether or not to generate a feed (sometimes called “publish” or “syndicate”). I can’t see why anyone would choose not to do this, since most of us write blogs to be read!
  • Make sure there’s a link to your feed on your blog’s home page, preferably on your blog post template too. This makes it easy for readers to subscribe by adding it to the IE reader simply by clicking on it. Many other readers like Google provide a bookmarklet you can add to your Favorites or Links bar. In most WordPress blogs, the RSS feed link is part of the standard META sidebar widget. Most Blogger templates include an RSS link (sometimes called Atom feed) either in a sidebar or a footer.
  • Please, publish entire articles! WordPress blogs give you the choice to offer either Full Text (the default) or Summary. Other blog software may offer something similar. See reasons to do this under “Why is RSS Important,” above. I find it a real bummer to run across an interesting/useful/funny blog I want to follow, only to find only short excerpts in its feed. Sometimes I’ll subscribe anyway, but I don’t read all the articles, since I can’t do it from work. Oh, and if your reason for only publishing excerpts is that you hope to entice more people to click through and comment? Doesn’t work. Once in a while, I’ll save one to read later at home, but more often, I just skip them altogether.

So if you were confused or unsure about what that “Subscribe” is on blogs, now you know – and you may have found a more convenient way to keep up with them!

If you have more questions about RSS feeds, feel free to ask in the comments. I’m not an expert, but I’m a technical person – if nothing else, I can probably find you some links.

Do you use RSS feeds? If not, why? If so, what feed reader do you use, and what do you like about it? Do you follow blogs by some other technology/means? If so, please share! I’m always interested in learning about new tech.