Friday, March 18, 2016

My Journey from Windows to Apple

For about a decade, I only had computers with the Microsoft operating system. I worked in tech support, where my job was to troubleshoot Windows XP and, later, Windows 7. Despite the numerous crazy problems I saw day in, day out, I was living by this philosophy:



Then I became a full-time freelancer. I invested in a "really good" Sony Vaio laptop. You know how they say some cars are just lemons from the start? That was this laptop. (Even Shelby was sad about it.)



Apparently Sony didn't really feel the need to make its hardware work with Windows 8. It probably had something to do with the fact that the company was fed up with selling computers, since they sold their computer division off about a minute after I bought this laptop.



I've complained about that Sony piece of crap laptop a million times on this blog, so I'll make it short. Blue screen of death once a month, which meant completely reloading the thing using something called "Assist." That process was easy--but it meant losing everything. So all of my files had to stay on one of these:



After about a year of that nonsense, I realized I was losing money. My freelance work is my living. If I have to spend the day fixing my computer, I can't meet my client's deadlines and that isn't good for business. On top of that...



I knew it was time. I just needed a laptop that would work. Every day. Without needing tech support. For at least four years. My decade of experience with Windows products had taught me that will never, ever happen, especially with Windows coming out with a new operating system every 15 days. There was only one solution...



It's been one year and four months with this computer and I've had not a single problem. Not one. NOT. ONE. It hasn't even frozen up. No viruses, no blue screens of death, no scrambling to find the control + alt + delete combo, then pounding the keys 20 times to no avail before reaching for the power button. None of that.



The funny thing is, just ten years ago I regularly told people that Macs were mostly for graphic designers and video editors. Regular people didn't really need to spend the extra money. But when I attend a writers' conference, it's very rare that I meet someone who doesn't use a Mac. Among my full-time freelancing buddies, most use Macs. 



It seems to have gone much more mainstream since iPhones have taught us the benefits of having your software designed by the same people who designed your hardware. Maybe Microsoft frustration is sending more people Apple's way.



I'm sure most of you have Windows and never have problems, but I'm just glad to have a laptop that works every day. I spent ten years fixing computers and I'd like to spend the rest of my life just writing!

How do you handle computer problems?

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Introducing Under a Purple Moon by Beverly Stowe McClure

Purple is one of my favorite colors, so I knew I'd love the cover for this one from Beverly Stowe McClure the second I heard the title. We're celebrating the release of Under a Purple Moon. Here's the cover. Scroll down to read all about it!





Blurb:

No Love in the Garden of Eden...

Eden Rose has learned to deal with her mother’s criticism that she can do nothing right. What she can’t deal with are the arguments between her parents. To escape their angry words, she finds refuge in an old abandoned house. She always returns home, hoping her mother will love her one day, even though Eden’s not sure what the word love means. 

Three other teens with problems also hang out at the Old House. Meeting Murphy, Toby, and Josh changes Eden’s world, and she begins to have faith in herself. Perhaps she can do something right, after all. 

Thanks to the boys, she begins to understand the meaning of love. But will it be enough to save her broken home life?

Bio:

Most of the time, you’ll find Beverly Stowe McClure at her computer, typing stories little voices whisper in her ears. When she’s not writing, she’s snapping pictures of wildlife, flowers and clouds. To relax, she plays the piano. Her cats don’t appreciate good music and hide when she tickles the ivories. Beverly is a member of the SCBWI and teaches a women’s Sunday school class at her church. She’s sometimes known as the “Bug Lady.” She’s not telling why.




Author Links:


Buy Links:

Nook | Kobo | Amazon Amazon UK iTunes

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Laugh Tracks and Live Audiences: Ruining Sitcoms for 60 Years

Most of us weren't around to see the original airing of the first mega-popular sitcom:



I Love Lucy and other early sitcoms used live studio audiences to help viewers feel as though they were viewing a play in a theater. The tradition never really ended, but studios did come up with a way to get that laughter without the expense of a real audience: laugh tracks.



Over the years, the use of laugh tracks and live audiences has been controversial. Some network execs believed it was essential, forcing TV comedies like M*A*S*H to use them even when producers felt they shouldn't. However, the 90s saw the debut of the single-camera sitcom, which took the audience out of the picture completely. Some of the most successful comedies of the past 20 years have completely gone without forced laughter, including this show (considered revolutionary in the no-laugh-track genre):



This show:



And one of my all-time favorites:



Unfortunately, once you get used to NOT having laughter with your comedy, it can become annoying. Most of the time I ignore them...after all, I grew up on canned laughter. But sometimes a studio audience is just SO obnoxious, it takes you out of the comedy and makes you listen to the audience instead. The one and only time this has happened to me is with this show:



That show's live audience laughed at everything. Ev-er-y-thing. Someone walks across the room? Laughter. Someone says, "How are you today?" Laughter. That happens with a lot of these shows, probably because of the little sign all these shows have directing the audience when to laugh:



What gets me about That 70s Show is the cheering. If you've ever watched a Disney show or an old episode of Saved by the Bell, you already know that when two characters do something the audience likes, they scream and cheer.



But on That 70s Show, they cheer at even the slightest drug reference. I do mean "slightest." I don't even get what they're cheering about half the time, which I take as a good sign. But I wonder if anyone does.



I think I've figured it out, though. I think they handed this out to the audience before every show:



Have you ever been annoyed by something on a TV show you're watching? Did you stop watching as a result?

Monday, March 14, 2016

What Led Me to Poetry? Guest Blog by Lidy Wilks

Today I'm welcoming Lidy Wilks to my blog, but I'm also featured at the Unicorn Bell blog, so be sure to check that out!

I met Lidy not so long ago and I love her blog. So I was excited when I saw she had a book coming out. Today, she's here to tell us about the experience of writing poetry. Lidy's also giving away a $10 Walmart giftcard in a raffle linked below.

Take it away, Lidy!

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What Led Me to Write Poetry?
by Lidy Wilks

I first started writing poetry by writing rhymes. In the beginning, it was more for fun and it allowed me to delve deeper into my love for all things Halloweenish. It wasn't until later that I started to write poetry as an outlet and for inner reflection.



It all started when my mother transferred me out of the Catholic private school and into a public school. Changing schools had a huge toll on me. Granted, my mother could no longer afford the tuition, so it was off to public school. But as an introverted person, having to start all over again was something unfathomable to me. I had to leave behind six years worth of friendships and teachers I liked and respected. I didn't want to go and the school begged my mom to keep me enrolled until graduation in two years. Sad to say neither of us had no control over the matter. 

So I’d transferred in the 7th grade and my brother who was already a student there, had his own set of friends. So couldn't hang out with him and I'd much preferred to stay by myself. Discovering new worlds with every book I read. I was a flesh and blood cliche of ‘quiet as a mouse.’ And with my personality I hadn't made any friends for a long while. Who knew that it’d get me in trouble. Yet unbeknownst to me, I had made myself an enemy.

I don’t remember the girl’s name. But she was a fellow classmate and took pleasure in bothering me every chance she got. Even throwing paper balls at me during class once. Well, that day I had enough and I finally threw some back. But that was when she crossed the line. She read my words when she hadn’t the right. It was that day she became the second person I disliked most in the world.

Eventually, I found out why she hated me. She assumed herself that I thought I was better than everyone. Little old me, who was quiet and behaved in class, did the assignments and passed all her tests. Call me crazy, but isn't that a job of a student? Respect and listen to your teacher, do the assignments, etc. At least that was how I was brought up. Oh well. 




Looking back now, I guess you can say I kind of owe her. If not for her and not transitioning well to my new school, I wouldn’t have started writing poetry to figure out why people are the way they are. Why the world is the way it is. Writing poetry wasn’t just for fun anymore. It became the medicine relieving my aches and pain. To make me understand things I never knew or noticed before. And made me smile again. Leading me to write “A Rose Is A Lovely Flower.” My first published poem in my junior high school yearbook. To writing and publishing my first poetry chapbook. To writing and one day publishing my first full length poetry collection. And many more.




About the Book:

Debut poetry chapbook Can You Catch My Flow? captures the everyday ordinary events of the human condition in poetic snapshots. No matter the walks of life, the reader is sure to find themselves within the lines.

Bio:

Ever since she was young, Lidy Wilks was often found completely submerged in the worlds of Dickens, Louisa May Alcott, Sweet Valley High and Nancy Drew. She later went on to earn a Bachelor degree in English with a concentration in Creative Writing, from Franklin Pierce University. Where she spent the next four years knee deep in fiction, poetry and creative non-fiction Lidy is the author of Can You Catch My Flow? a poetry chapbook and is a member of Write by the Rails. She currently resides in Virginia with her husband and two children. And an anime, book and manga library, she’s looking to expand, one day adding an Asian drama DVD collection. Lidy continues her pursuit in writing more poetry collections and fantasy novels. All the while eating milk chocolate and sipping a glass of Cabernet. Or Riesling wine.

Links:



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