behavior, call center, common sense, life lessons, technology

Technology In Lieu of Common Sense

“Uh-I don’t know what happened. I left the keys in the car and I shut the door and it locked.  The car’s not supposed to do that.”

In my secret non-author identity as a call center advisor, this is my most common call. Be it a dealer or customer, they’re always shocked that the car would have the sheer audacity to lock them out. After decades of human evolution when it comes to automobiles and locking the keys inside, you would think that we would have learned, but such is not the case. These so-called smart keys that are supposed to prevent such a situation have spoiled us.

Shockingly, most times they never blame themselves for locking the keys in the car or in the trunk. They’re angry and disgruntled, the victim of some form of trickery that the car has played on them. I even had one admit to pulling off on the highway to take a smoke and getting locked out.

Sometimes I just want to ask: What were you doing to get your keys locked in the car? Having a car that doesn’t have a smart key, I’m paranoid about getting locked out. I’m always aware of where my keys are when I get out of the car. And if it ever happens, I have a family member with an extra set, just in case. Maybe I’m crazy, but even with technology, I wouldn’t want to rely on a machine to save my butt in a jam.

Are we being dumbed down by technology, leaving common sense and our brains by the wayside? Are we getting too lazy to think, instead relying on Apps and computers to do it for us?

My grandmother used to carry an address book the size of a Yellow Pages in her purse, which she kept with her until the day she had her final stroke. Everyone from distant relative to close neighbor was listed in that book and she even kept a backup at home. Nowadays all our contacts are stored in our handy dandy smartphones. If your smartphone crashed, would you be able to remember your emergency contacts?

The same goes for driving. I’ve seen people pitch a fit because their GPS isn’t working. I know of people who get directions everyday for their commute. What happens when you can’t get directions?

What about something as simple as shopping? Do I really need to whip out my smartphone’s calculator to figure out what my discount at Macy’s will be?

I’m definitely not against technology, obviously it’s there for a reason. But every so often, maybe you might want to warm up those brain cells just to make sure they’re working right. It may save you a long wait for roadside because you locked your keys in your car.

 

 

 

Standard
Uncategorized

Five Mistakes KILLING Self-Published Authors

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Rise of the Machines Human Authors in a Digital World, social media authors, Kristen Lamb, WANA, Rise of the Machines

When I began writing I was SO SURE agents would be fighting over my manuscript. Yeah. But after almost thirteen years in the industry, a lot of bloody noses, and even more lessons in humility, I hope that these tips will help you. Self-publishing is AWESOME, and it’s a better fit for certain personalities and even content (um, social media?), but we must be educated before we publish.

Mistake #1 Publishing Before We Are Ready

The problem with the ease of self-publishing is that it is, well, too easy. When we are new, frankly, most of us are too dumb to know what we don’t know. Just because we made As in English, does not automatically qualify us to write a work spanning 60,000-100,000 words. I cannot count how many writers I’ve met who refuse to read fiction, refuse to read craft books, and who only go to pitch agents…

View original post 1,494 more words

Standard
audience, Author, Fiction, Indie Author, writing

Bursting the Bubble

One of our readers asked if we ever considered the possibility of hiring models to pose as our main characters for the cover of our books, The Body Hunters. We politely said no, it wasn’t something we would consider.

Reading is about imagination and fantasy. My vision of what Danielle Labouleaux and that fine hunk of a man, Aiden Stone look like may be different from my co-author’s vision of them, which is different from our reader’s vision of what the couple looks like.  Putting two models on the cover could be disruptive to the reader’s experience and may turn them off if the model’s appearance is not what they had in mind.

I confess that the same thing happened to me with a series of novels I read. The series was briefly turned into a TV series. Now the male protagonist got a pass, he looked like I would imagine his character to be. His female partner was not. The actress was blond while the character was a brunette. She looked Hollywood glamorous while in the books the character was a bit of a tomboy and an athlete. For whatever reason I just couldn’t fall in love with the show like I wanted and the changes in appearance may have been why. Now I’m afraid to pick up the next book in the series because I think the show may have ruined it for me.

It’s something to consider as an author when the time comes around to design your book covers. Sometimes letting your audience use their own imagination is the best policy. Besides, the actor I envision as Aiden Stone is a little too busy making movies to worry about a book cover shoot. : )

Standard
audience, Author, customer service, customers, life lessons, money, shopping, Uncategorized, writing

First Impressions

Last week my job ordered lunch for our team from an upscale pizzeria, Buddy’s. Another location of the same chain opened about two weeks on my street and I was wondering how the food would taste. Needless to say I was disappointed. Other than the lasagna, which was delicious, the rest of the pasta was flat and tasteless and the salad looked like someone just opened one of those instant salads you can buy at the grocery store. The restaurant which could have gained me as a customer failed to impress me, so I’ll be spending my money elsewhere.

The same is true for me and my relationship with Sonic restaurants. I tried them at first three years ago when one opened around the corner from me. I ordered a chili dog and got home to discovered a bun with nothing but chili in it which completely turned me off the restaurant chain. I haven’t visited since.

These restaurant’s loss of my business is the reason first impressions are important, no matter what type of business you run.  So go all out. Don’t be shy. Dare to impress your potential clientele. If you don’t wow your customer or your reader from the start, chances are you’ve lost them for good.

 

Standard
black women, cultural awareness, cultural understanding, diversity, life lessons, manners, race relations, racism, radio, values

If You Don’t Like What I Have to Say, Get Off My Blog!

I’m going to make some people mad, I know I am. Too bad and if you don’t like it there’s the door.

As a black woman, I have an issue with black radio. About a month ago, I was in my car listening to one of the syndicated, drive time radio shows. The day before a white woman had called in to complain that the show was basically racially charged. Everything she heard was ‘White people this’ and ‘White people that’ which I agreed with and she compared him to the last radio show which did the exact same thing. The host got flippant with her and since it was a replay from the day before I’m not sure where the conversation went after that.

The next day I had a discussion with my mother about it and she shared my viewpoint since it’s something she deals with everyday. As much as she loves the Tom Joyner Morning Show or the Steve Harvey Morning Show, she can’t listen to it in her office. She works with two white women and who wants an awkward situation when one of the radio hosts launches into a white people tirade or joke? The office radio is set to a pop channel, a predominantly white channel by the way, with no fear of a racially charged topic or someone feeling uncomfortable. The only side effect is that my mother knows more pop songs than what I’m used to.

As a people we want people to open the door and accept us, yet we put our own dividers up. Now we have our situations from time to time where we have to get organized and involved, I know that, but it’s not every single day.I even like the little known Black facts segment on the Tom Joyner show but the jokes concerning other races really have to go.  If a white radio station ranted about black people the way we talk about them, we’d be outside the building picketing with our pitchforks and torches with Al Sharpton and the Rainbow Coalition being flown in. So why do we feel we have the right to do that to other races?

If you want people to change, you have to start with yourself. If we’re not willing to take change seriously, why would any one else?

Standard
Uncategorized

When a Man Beats a Woman

Lani Wendt Young

The idolization of rugby players should never come at the cost of the women in their lives. We place these athletes on a pedestal and our adulation props up a sporting culture which seems inextricably linked with alcohol and violence. Our rugby players have helped ‘put Samoa on the map’ and there are those who have made immense contributions to our country – both on and off the field. There are many who are admirable role models for our youth and I have great respect for the work they do. But what about when a rugby ‘legend’ who now coaches and mentors the next generation of young men in the sport – is a wife-beater? Has abused and terrorized his wife over the years, throughout multiple historic world cup campaigns? And continues to attack her even after they have been divorced for going on two years? Domestic violence is a…

View original post 556 more words

Standard
audience, Author, etiquette, Indie Author, Social Media, Twitter, Uncategorized

What is Twitter Etiquette?

As indie author’s one of the most powerful tools for getting our name and product out there is social media. It’s been a learning process over the past year, but we’ve finally got it down. I’m not sure about Von, but my favorite social media tool is Twitter. It’s short and sweet, no need for extraneous content, 140 characters and you’re done. If I happen to find an interesting article or picture, I just click on the blue bird, it’s miniaturized to Shrinky Dink size and posted to our Twitter page, easy enough.

As our Twitter followers have grown over the past few months, so have our interactions, or Retweets. At first, we would send a Thank You tweet, thanking them for thinking of us, but we soon discovered that retweeting the retweeters content was even better to return the favor.  If an author happens to follow us then we make it a point to follow them back. It’s a good way to grow your network and interact with other people trying to do the same thing you’re doing.

I got quite a shock, one day while trying to thank one of our retweeters. I clicked on that author’s name to find a profile page full of nudity, whips, chains, and handcuffs. Okay, if we’re not comfortable even looking at this person’s page, do we have to retweet their material because they retweeted ours?

Another question concerns serial retweeters. If we know they retweet our stuff almost automatically, sometimes several times a day, do we retweet their stuff multiple time also?

What about Followers who speak an entirely different language? Do I follow someone even though I don’t have a clue what they’re saying?

It’s not like someone wrote a handbook on proper Twitter etiquette. I hate being rude and don’t want our Followers to think we’re trying to snub them. So we had to make up our own rules.

If a Follower is into something risque that we’re not quite comfortable sharing on our page, we’ll send a thank you Tweet or retweet something safe they’ve retweeted from someone else.

For the serial retweeters, we retweet them once or twice. Anything more and you’re caught in a vicious, repeating loop.

The rest is just play it by ear and stick with our own judgment.  If we’re not comfortable with something, than the best course of action is to leave it alone. Over time you’ll gain Followers and you’ll lose Followers, that’s just the way Twitter goes.

 

Standard
behavior, karma, life lessons, retribution, self respect, Uncategorized, values

Whatever Happens to You, You Deserve It

The other night there was an especially upsetting episode of Sons of Anarchy. A person close to the main character, Jax, was killed off in an extremely brutal fashion. If you’re not familiar with the show, it centers around an outlaw biker gang and all the devious deeds they do. The show is supposedly an adaptation of Hamlet, where the biker club stands in for the kingdom.

Though in any other story he would be the villain, Jax’s character could be described as an antihero; a popular term for a bad guy we want to root for. During the six years the series has been running, we’ve seen Jax commit multiple murders, hurt people and even inject his son’s mother with drugs so she would have no hope in getting custody of him. Even though he commits these crimes, he claims to be a devoted husband and father to his two young sons who may be destined to repeat his mistakes. The viewer is supposed to sympathize with Jax, despite the heinous things he does because he is the center of the show.

Early in the episode he was warned by one of his friends that the troubles he may be having in his personal life, may be the result of his evil deeds in the past. Jax is shocked by this revelation. Why would his past deeds reflect on his current situation? Needless to say, the death of his loved one is the direct result of seeds he’d sown earlier in the season. What he did in the past eventually caught up to him, costing a woman her life.

Though it may be just a tv show, this is actually a situation I’ve seen over and over in real life. How many times have we seen the news story about the husband who kills the wife so he could be with his mistress and thinks he should get away with murder? Or the nutcase who makes it her point to go after another woman’s husband? How many people do we hear of lying, cheating, and stealing to get what they want no matter the cost? They have the attitude that they’re entitled to the happily ever after.

The thing that surprises me is their genuine shock  when God comes to collect or karma comes back to slap them in the face. Did you really think you could do all this damage and you wouldn’t pay for it? Even people who do everything right and treat everyone kindly have trials in their lives.

Be careful what you do because it just might come back to bite you.

Standard
behavior, brothers, daughters, death, dysfunctional families, family, fathers, grieving, Indie Author, life lessons, Mental Health, mothers, relationships, Uncategorized, values, writing

The Marrying Man

My Father

My Father

The innocent looking boy in the picture is quite the cutie isn’t he? He would live to be 87 yrs old before being called home, and while on this earth, lived quite an eventful life. He married 6 times, with only 2 marriages ending in death, my birth mother, wife #3, and wife #5. 

He worked in the auto industry for most of his adult life. He believed in Generous Motors until the financial collapse of GM’s bankruptcy broke his heart. Life changed around him and he just couldn’t understand the why’s. He refused to believe that after all his years of blood, sweat and toil to a company he loved, he suddenly had to pay doctor co-pays and worry over the possibility of his pension being cut. The latter thankfully never happened.

 I’d love to say in this post that he was a perfect father ect…. I’d love to say it, but truth was, he was blissfully unaware that he was a complicated man. He believed in simplicity and yet he convoluted his life so badly when it came to his family. With his last wife, he believed his kids should have just fallen all over the woman he loved, and love her just as much as he did, even as she was ripping our family apart.

This of course was his pollyanna, his utopia. Blood will always be thicker than water and the woman made sure that her grown child and grandchildren were to always come first in his eyes. At times I believe she succeeded and enjoyed rubbing my nose in it.

That’s not to say he didn’t love us. I think he just assumed we knew he did, and felt he had to outwardly show it to her children more. He had to prove to the new wife his loyalty, and I believe she exploited it to a high degree. I know in later (rare) private conversations with him, he later felt trapped in that loyalty, but felt powerless to do anything about it.

I loved him to a fault when I was young, and I do have many fond memories of him. My most valued memory is the father/daughter dance at my wedding. It was one of the few times I really felt connected to him, that he cared and was happy with my choice of partner. he loved my husband and thought highly of him. He even defended him against my husband’s own father. Yet another father story for another time.

 After wife #5’s death, my brothers and I struggled to reconnect with him, feeling that for the first time we could have had that long awaited, and unencumbered relationship with him. 

Not so much.

 I quickly realized that he was the ‘marrying man’, when he announced at 73 yrs of age, that he was seeing yet another woman. This was literally months after wife #5 died. It was like a sickness, he just couldn’t be without a woman whom he wanted to give control over his life.

As an adult I began to see the pattern emerge. I don’t know much about wife #1 and 2, except with #2, he had 2 boys that he let another man adopt because he didn’t want anymore animosity and fights between wife #2 and #3, besides he had young children with #3 and another new life. 

With wife #4 he had no children, and after a contentious relationship, ended up leaving her for wife #5. With wife #5 he gained 4 stepdaughters that he truly loved. It was inexplicable to me that he also dropped them all by the wayside when #6 came around, though later he would believe wife #6 when she said it was their fault and they abandoned him. It’s that ‘why didn’t they worship #6 like he did’ kind of thing. Through rose colored glasses of love and obsession, he failed to see #6’s jealousy and that she pushed us all away.

The 4 girls would never be able to have any semblance of a relationship with him again, with only one of them being able to see him once before he died. Wife #6 made sure of that. She also made sure my brothers and I were tossed out of the picture until she finally relented to having me around. 

This was an eggshell walk for me, treading water carefully as to not upset the balance that allowed my continued visits. My brothers just gave up.

Now here’s the weird part, as time went on he just couldn’t understand why things were the way they were. He couldn’t see his role in the drama. Sensing that he was losing his touch on reality in his last years, I let it be and decided instead to try to persuade the brothers to make up and just be a family before he passed. It didn’t work. I spent years on this fruitless endeavor, arguing and pleading with them to no avail. I swallowed so much pride I was drowning in my own tears.

I was with him that weekend at his home, watching his chest rise and fall with each ragged breath, hanging on to life with him in his few moments of clarity, in-between  blissful pain free naps. I held his hand, stroked his hair and prayed for a peaceful ending, letting him know he wasn’t alone. 

I watched as the funeral home came and zipped him up in a body bag and carried him out on a gurney at 5am, after hospice came and declared him what we already new him to be. 

I sat in the funeral home alone for calling hours, my husband having been taken ill that day. I was surrounded by wife #6’s family, very few I truly believed loved him, and senior center friends of his I didn’t know. My family was nowhere to be seen. It was totally awkward sitting there. Many of his ‘other’ family didn’t know who I was, since I was never spoke of by #6. I felt like it was me, not him, that was the ghost in the room. Only one of #6’s family offered a condolence to me, thankfully it was #6’s daughter, who was gracious enough to put aside her own grief to see that I too, was hurting. I dreaded the funeral the next day.

Then a miracle happened. The 3 step sisters who were still alive (1 passed away 2 yrs prior)  and their spouses and children, who’s hearts were also broken by the man lying in the casket, had made a last minute decision and showed up at the funeral, swallowing their pride with me, shedding tears for the relationship they remembered with him, not what for what it became.

I don’t want my readers to get the wrong impression about this post. It’s not a bash my father for the last time kind of thing. He was, after all, a funny man with down home, countrified kind of humor. He enjoyed playing his music and was quite an accomplished singer and guitar player. He played in many bands and gave generously of his time to playing for the ‘old’ folks at the senior centers and nursing homes in his seventies and early eighties, before his health demanded he stop. He was beloved by his friends as an affable, kind man, who would give you the shirt off his back. Like I said, he was complicated without ever realizing it.

There is, of course, a huge amount to tell of his life that would have to be classified as fiction, because, well, truth is stranger than fiction. I just wanted to share this more for me than anything, to help reconcile on digital paper my feelings of undying love for this man and simmering disappointment of what could have been.

If any of you have had a parent like this feel free to comment and tell me about it. I’d love to know I’m not alone.

 

 

 

 

Standard