Posts Tagged ‘technology’

Funeral for a Flip Phone

Monday, October 3rd, 2016


Do you know what this is? It’s called a flip phone or “clamshell,” and was used by our ancestors near the beginning of the digital age. It was also my phone of choice up until this weekend, when I finally purchased my first iPhone.

Don’t laugh. Flip phones have some things to be said for them. They fit neatly into small spaces, and they don’t provide any of the Internet-related distractions that smartphones are so famous for. As a style statement, they’re so retro that they’re almost cool. Almost.

I’ve been putting off getting a smartphone for ages, even though all of my friends and colleagues have them. Even my 80-year-old uncle swears by his iPhone.

There were many reasons that I resisted trading in this baby for a smartphone; some good, some not so good. I’m not a fan of the way so many people seem attached to their smartphones to the point of neurosis. I mean, do you really need to check incoming texts at every red light? So what if the only replies I could text on my clamshell were “yes,” “no,” or “okay?” I feared adding one more distraction to my already cluttered life.

But if I dig a little deeper, I can see that the real reason I resisted trading in (well, okay: trading up) for so long was fear of change. In some ways, I crave the new and different. I’m always looking for ways to add more excitement to my life. How many people, for example, invite a parade of international students into their homes? But when it comes to life’s more mundane routines, I cling to the familiar, even when it no longer serves me. I remember a time, quite a few years ago, when I resisted getting a laptop because it would pull me away from the comfort zone of my home computer.

Now, of course, I swear by my laptop and seldom leave home without it. And once I get used to it, I’m sure I’ll feel the same about my new iPhone 4. (I know, I know, it’s obsolete; there are much more current versions I could buy. What can I tell you? I need to ease into things.) In fact, it has changed my life already. This post represents the first time I’ve used a phone to create an image for this blog.

I guess I’m finally becoming part of the digital age. In my own, tentative way. Small steps, baby. Small steps.

Crash Course

Friday, January 13th, 2012

The other day on the phone, my mom asked me what it’s like to be a published writer. My reply was, “It feels like I’m taking a crash course in everything!”

I wasn’t referring to the actual writing of the book, the submitting to agents, or the revision and editing process. Instead, my proverbial crash course covers everything surrounding the promotion process – and most of its lessons have to do with technology. First there was the setting up of my author website, which I happily farmed out to the talented Barrett Dowell. Then there was the creation of a book trailer, which was handled with grace and flair by Megan Bostic of Angsty Girl Video.

But some stuff, I’ve simply had to do myself. In the past year, I’ve mastered (well, to some degree, at least) blogging and using Goodreads, Amazon Author Central, and Twitter. I’ve set up a Facebook Author Page, organized online events and giveaways, and learned the difference between low- and high-resolution photos.

For a child of the sixties like me, none of this was easy. I look around me and see younger people who seem to have technological know-how imprinted in their DNA. These are the people who laugh when I say I’m struggling to import a YouTube video into my blog. If they only knew!

What’s my next challenge? Creating a Powerpoint presentation for an upcoming high school visit. I know, I know. Powerpoint is a snap; even elementary school kids can put together a slide show in a matter of half an hour. But for us old folks who weren’t raised on technology, this is complicated stuff.

There’s something to be said for having to learn a boatload of new skills in a very short time. I’ve had to set my fears aside and simply plunge ahead. And there’s a kind of satisfaction in knowing that I can post to my blog, update my Facebook status, and check my Amazon sales figures now without batting an eyelash. But I’m looking forward to the day when my crash course is complete, and I can go back to doing what I do best: writing books.

Have you had to take a crash course in anything lately?


101 blog posts and Goodreads giveaway

Friday, October 7th, 2011

Wow. I just realized that I’ve now written 100 posts for this blog (this is post #101). I can hardly believe I’ve been blogging this long, especially since I wasn’t at all sure I wanted to blog in the first place. But I’ve stuck with it, even though there was one period when I was on the verge of quitting. To celebrate, I’m writing today about the gifts my blog has given me and what I hope to gain from it going forward.

Skills: It’s a little embarrassing to admit, but before I started this blog, I had, like, zero technical skills. I didn’t know how to publish a blog post, much less upload a photo or add a link. I’m still not a computer wiz by any stretch of the imagination, but blogging has given me the confidence to try new things online.

Practice: I hesitated to start a blog for a long time because I thought it would take hours and energy away from my fiction writing. Instead, it has become part of my writing practice. I think of writing here as a warm up, a way to get my thoughts flowing and my fingers moving so that when I sit down to my draft or revision, I’m ready to dive right in.

Connection: The most important thing I get from blogging is a sense of connection to other writers. I don’t get many comments (more about that in a moment), but when I do, I feel so grateful that someone has taken the time to reach across virtual space and tap me on the shoulder.

So, what do I hope for from my blog in the future? Mostly, more of the above – especially connection. I don’t get many comments on my posts, and I’d like to see that change. I know some of you are reading, and if you saw how excited I get when a response pops up in my inbox, I know you’d leave comments, too. And I plan to give as good as I get. My life gets crazy busy, but I’m going to make more of an effort to leave comments on the blog posts I read.

Before I sign off, I want to let you know that I’m giving away two FLYAWAY ARCs on Goodreads! The giveaway ends Nov. 25th (the Friday after Thanksgiving), so you’ve got plenty of time to enter – but why not scoot over there now?

A quick question before you go: What would you like see more of on my blog? What types of posts are most interesting and useful to you?

Grieving the empty inbox

Monday, July 25th, 2011

Want to see something scary?

The other night I logged onto my hotmail account, and this is what stared me in the face: a completely empty inbox. Where were those dozen or so emails that I’d left in there to remind me of upcoming events? I investigated further and found that it wasn’t just my inbox that was empty. All the folders I’d created were gone, along with the emails I’d archived over the years. Emails from my agent about the sale of FLYAWAY, emails from my editor, emails from bloggers who want to interview me – all gone.

Then came the worst discovery of all: my contact list had disappeared. I’d been building this list for the past 20 or so years, and it included the contact information for friends, family members, and professional colleagues – not the kind of stuff you want to lose when you have a book coming out.

My first reaction to all of this was denial. I logged out of my hotmail account and then logged back in again, thinking the emails and contacts would reappear. They didn’t. I shut the computer down and started it back up. No luck. I went to bed and got up in the morning, hoping it had been a bad dream. It wasn’t.

My next step was to go into I-can-fix-this mode, aka bargaining. I googled the problem and tried contacting MSN – all to no avail. I learned that this sometimes just happens with hotmail accounts. Basically, you get what you pay for.

I proceeded on to anger, which unfortunately exploded at my husband. I mean, it’s hard to get mad at a computer without ruining it. Fortunately, Steven is pretty resilient. Then there was depression. I’m embarrassed to say it, but I actually cried over my dearly departed contact list.

Now, I’ve moved on to acceptance. Slowly, address by address, I’m rebuilding my contacts. And those emails I’ll never see again? Well, the truth is that I rarely looked at them anyway. There’s a certain kind of zen beauty to the uncluttered folders, the empty inbox.

Has technology ever let you down in a big way? How did you react?