Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Well I did it. Last night I actually deleted my Facebook account. Up until now I'd just disabled it so all the information would still be there when I reactivated my account, should I choose to do so.
I was surprised to find that six people had already dispensed with me as a friend when I returned. Six out of two hundred and sixteen 'friends'. One I think has already left prompted by my idea to leave, so let's say five. Five deleted me as a friend. Now either they might have left themselves or disabled their accounts or they were glad to see the back of me maybe lol? What if I'd only disabled it for a break? Did they think so little of me to get rid so quickly? I've deleted people with disabled accounts myself but only if they kept disabling them or were M.I.A for months.
I actually thought to look to see who the friends were who got rid. Who were these people who were so quick to delete me from their friend list? But then I thought no, if I do that, it might upset me. I'm far too sensitive to that sort of thing.
So in the end, I just deleted all my photo albums [just in case] and contacted one friend who I didn't want to lose touch with and we spoke in real time to exchange contact details. Others I know I can contact by different means or via friends.
But it makes you think that out of the two hundred and sixteen friends I had when I disabled my account just under three weeks ago, who were my real friends there?
One is in touch with me every day and I know we'll meet up again in the future. So she's a real friend. Another wrote me a letter saying he'd like to meet up again with his wife in the future. I met him on a pen pal site a year ago and he's proved to be a great friend who really cheers me up and if gets to read this, he'll know who he is when I mention a certain hotel that had sticky taped its skirting board when he came to stay in my home town. No, there was nothing going on with me and him, he and his wife stayed there a year ago and I went to meet them for a drink. He also travelled for a few hours to come to a meeting from York. This was at a social group gathering I used to run on Facebook. I thought the world of that he would travel so far for a meet up.
Other friends have emailed me and I met up with another for lunch a couple of weeks back since disabling my account.
I would estimate out of all my Facebook friends perhaps around ten were friends. That was less than a twentieth of my friend list.
Often people you don't know will add you as a friend and they might even be from your hometown. But the thing is you rarely get to know these people even if you add them as friends. Sometimes you don't even write on one another's walls. So what's the point in being a friend?
So last night I logged back into Facebook for the last time, deleted my photo albums, messaged a friend I wanted to keep in contact with, quickly scanned the newsfeed which was full of the same old same old and deleted my account. I do have the option to log back in within a fortnight and reactivate my account before it goes, wherever it goes to...maybe it's shot to smithereens and floats around in minute pieces around the universe. A testament to the life of Lynette Rees, who once baked a clown cake for her grand daughter's first birthday. The same Lynette Rees who spent far too much time on Facebook when she should have been writing instead.
The good news is I've now completed a first draft of my new novel. You can bet if I hadn't disabled my account three weeks ago, I wouldn't have made so much progress.
So 'Hello, real life! I'm back and I'm looking forward to getting acquainted with you again!'
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
I've said this before and I'll say it again...people need to take care what they post on social media networks. I've seen professional people posting inflammatory things such as racist/sexist posts. I've seen them get involved in long threads of arguments, practically to the point of bullying.
I've also seen people tagged in disgraceful photographs making themselves look like idiots.
They seem to forget that anyone these days can access these things. Employers often check out potential employees network pages before holding interviews. One teacher was called into question for showing her underwear on a boozy night out as she gyrated ungraciously around a pole in night club! Not the kind of thing her pupils or the parents of her pupils would wish to see.
And here's a link to an article in today's local newspaper with the title: 'Racist, threatening, embarrassing and compromising: The jaw-dropping Facebook and Twitter posts… by police officers':
Why do people feel they can act as they like on Facebook and other social media? It's crazy. Some have even been imprisoned over their Tweets if the issue is highly contentious and personal.
It's my third week off Facebook and I'm still not missing it. I've finished the first draft of my new novel and loving being away from mind numbing wall posts and threads of people arguing with one another.
It's fast losing its popularity with its privacy issues. Youngsters are changing to Instragram. Others are giving it up as they feel like I do, it wastes too much time and more often than not, achieves very little.
Saturday, August 16, 2014
I just read a newspaper article entitled, "60 brilliant Welsh fish and chip shops you should be ordering your tea from tonight":
It was nice to see 'The Blue Dolphin' from my home town got a mention. The prize for the best name though has to go to 'A Fish Called Rhondda'! That name made me laugh out loud.
There's something so comforting about a fish and chip shop. It's familiar and warm inside. Wherever you go in Wales or Britain even, most chips shops are the same. Big silver fryers with glass cases displaying pies, pasties, sausage and rissoles. Cod, haddock or hake, is normally cooked fresh on demand and smells wonderful.
You're invited to sprinkle on your own salt and vinegar or the assistant does it for you.
Something though that apparently is peculiar to Wales and not so common in other places, though I wouldn't mind betting they do the same in the North of England, is to order a carton of curry with your fish and chips. I don't know who started that trend off, but we do it a lot here and yet, at home if I cook fish and chips, I'd never dream of adding curry sauce!
For me, it has to be the fruity curry sauce, the one with the sultanas and apples. That's the one I love with my cod and chips. Then breaking into the fish with my knife and fork beneath the crispy, golden batter, to see white flaky fish. Heavenly. The chips are usually cooked in a special oil that makes them crispy and tasty, I think various chip shops have their own favourite oils, giving their chips a slightly different taste.
Some Chinese takeaways in Wales also do great fish and chips as well as their usual special fried rice, Egg fu yung, and Chicken and black bean sauce, etc. There's one in Merthyr Tydfil called, 'Jen Chang', at what is commonly referred to as, 'The Bottom of Town'. This is opposite Caedraw flats. They do a respectable fish and chips and also a great Chinese meal. So it's a win-win situation if you go there.
And there's nothing quite like eating fish and chips at the seaside either, in the open air, as long as you can dodge the wheeling, diving seagulls that is, who have their beady eyes on your culinary delight as you try to eat al fresco!
Where is your favourite chip shop? And does it have an unusual name?
Thursday, August 14, 2014
I'm so glad that I was brought up in a time when there were no mobile phones, no social media and no Internet.
Back then, during the sixties and seventies, we didn't even own a house phone. We used the call box up the road and often had to queue for ten minutes for the privilege of using it!
These days people seem obsessed with their phones. It's almost as though they live their life through their iPhones, Blackberrys or whatever. Not only can mobiles make calls now, but there are texts, ways to log into Facebook, Twitter, Myspace. You can Instagram and pin pics at Pinterest. You can send photos to friends even video clips. Video conference even. When they can make me a cup of coffee or programme some robot to hoover the carpet, then I'll get excited.
But what people forget about when they're constantly checking their phones for updates and logging in to certain websites via their phones, is the here and now.
I remember when my children were young attending their Christmas school concert. One woman was so intent on videoing her little darlings that she was jumping up in her seat blocking people's views and asking to change seats with people.
She was not in the moment.
She was so intent on filming the event, she wasn't enjoying it and annoying other people at the same time who wanted to see their children live at a very precious time after queuing outside for twenty minutes in the freezing cold!
I'm not saying it's wrong to make videos. I have several taken over the years myself. But I'd far rather watch something live as it happens rather than worry about filming it. I see the same thing happening at rock/pop concerts too and often those clips when uploaded to Facebook or YouTube are of very poor quality sound and vision.
Something which I find annoying about mobile phones, and yes, I do own one, but am not on it obsessively, it's not even connected to the Internet, nor can I sent pics on it. All I use it for is to make calls, text and take the odd photograph. That's all I need it for...
The thing I find annoying is this... I find lately if I go out with certain friends, they are slaves to their phones. Constantly checking for texts, answering texts, answering phone calls that probably aren't that important, checking their Facebook accounts..."Wow she really posted that on her status? I'm going to post a reply now!" What about replying to me about the question I just asked you instead?
Why don't people just live in the moment?
I'm not saying I mind if someone occasionally checks their phone if it's that important, maybe they're worried if they've left the children with a baby sitter, or waiting to hear what time their lift is about to arrive, that's different. What I'm referring to is the constant need to check their phones and block out the people they're with. That's downright rude.
Most mobile phone calls if we admit it are non essential. So often I hear people on their phones in the supermarket saying things like, "Do you want mushroom soup or tomato soup?" Or on the bus or train answering their phones in very loud voices so that all eyes fall upon them, "Yes, I'm on the bus [or train]. On the bus I said! I'm on my way home!" They bellow. Yes, we're all aware of it, we're on the bus with you but we're not SHOUTING about it!
This constant need to check up and check in, is it that necessary in most instances? Will the world end tomorrow if someone chooses mushroom soup instead of tomato?"
Answering unessential mobile phone calls or texting has even killed people as they find it necessary to do so while they're driving. Not only endangering their own lives but those of their passengers or other drivers/pedestrians. Very rarely is a call that important it has to be answered there and then. Maybe unless you're a doctor or paramedic and even then it's debatable.
Even the bus drivers are doing it. The other day I found myself speaking in a loud voice in front of other passengers to say, "The bus driver is endangering our lives doing that...that call can't be that important." Don't know whether he heard me but he put his phone down. Other passengers agreed. How can a bus driver keep proper control of a bus if his wife or other is on the phone distracting him?
One driver killed someone as he was busy sexting while he was driving a huge lorry. That was sheer madness that he felt the need to do that whilst in charge of a vehicle.
I'm glad for time being I'm taking a break from Facebook. So much time can be lost there. Although some of it was productive for me at certain groups like the writing group and the history group and some social groups, there were times when it wasn't productive at all.
Instances when time was wasted looking at other people's wall posts and photo shares. 'Share this Post', Often times, posts are shared and the photographs aren't authentic or there's no way to know if they are. Some posts claim that if you share them Facebook will donate a dollar to poor Johnny's plight. Really? I doubt it very much. Does Johnny's mother give you permission to share his horrendous pic of his skin condition on Facebook and is it really Johnny anyhow?
Far better to donate to a real charity. No idea how sharing a photograph that could have been grabbed anywhere off the Net will really help anyhow.
Sometimes I think it would be nice to go back to the days before mobiles phones, social media and the Net, but then again if we did, I wouldn't be able to post this...would I?
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
When Jesus was facing his own trials and tribulations he went to the Garden of Gethsemane which was at the foot of the Mount of Olives. He went there to pray, in amongst his solitude from people, he found peace and guidance.
He went there the night before his crucifixion. He prayed while his disciples slept.
Part of Jesus's prayer was: "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." (Luke 22:42)
Sometimes when faced with our own trials and tribulations we need to find that place of solitude and kneel down before HIM and ask him to take the cup from us to do HIS will and not our own. Amen.
I'm about to discover my own Garden of Gethsemane once more. It was there all along but I left it for a while.
I posted this pic of a bunch of roses on my blog exactly five years ago today. That particular blog post has been relegated to 'drafts' as it was very personal and although I wrote a lot about a particular incident back then, I decided to remove those posts which covered around two months of my life, from my blog.
On that day as I was going through some personal trauma I stopped on my way home to buy myself a bunch of yellow and white roses. White roses are my favourite flower. I found it comforting buying flowers for myself, it was a way of saying, "There, there, you've been through so much. Maybe these will help..." In fact, it was like something I might have done for a good friend.
I read that post again today and realise I need to buy myself those roses again.
The strange thing was after buying myself those flowers, other people started to buy me flowers too. Maybe I had put out a thought into the universe that I was worth loving and appreciating, who knows. But it really helped.
Sometimes we need to appreciate, love and value ourselves in the first instance, then we will attract the right people toward us, who will show their love and appreciation too.
Friday, August 08, 2014
I found one of the first articles I ever had published online this morning in a creative writing newsletter:
This reminded me of my early days of writing for publication.
Back then in 2002, I think I was just filled with enthusiasm and hope. I'd joined a large Yahoo online writing group called Momwriters who I learned so much from. Some were editors, publishers, authors, freelancers, whilst others were ordinary mothers with young children with an urge to write something and see it in print. If it were published and you got paid too, then that was the icing on the cake.
The group was very supportive and encouraging. We shared writing tips and writing markets. I saw some of those ladies go on to achieve great things. One called, Joshilyn Jackson, even made the best seller list. That was a thrill for me to see her book on the shelf at my local Tesco.
It was a feeling of a 'can do' attitude back then. Nothing seemed impossible. It was quite easy to find markets and provided you had the skill to get published online and in magazines, so much the better.
However, following 911, when the twin towers fell, I noticed a change in the market. Websites offering payment no longer did so, or some offered less payment or none at all. I've no idea really whether that was coincidental or not. I suppose 911 must have had some impact on the economy.
I remember the day of September 11th 2001 so well. It was a cloudless day with blue skies on both sides of the Atlantic. I came home from work and walked the dogs and when I arrived back at the house, my husband arrived home a little later, this was just after 2 pm I think. He said there's been some sort of plane crash into a tower in New York, I just heard it on the car radio. It sounded awful but it sounded like an accident at that time.
However within minutes of hearing the news, we switched on the television to see another plane had crashed but this time it was into the second tower. It was like watching a disaster movie unfold on the big screen, so surreal and spooky. It was at that point I think that the world realised it was not an accident at all. It was deliberate.
At the time people were discussing this at the Momwriters Yahoo group. Now don't forget this was well before Facebook so we didn't tend to get instant threads with people joining in live on Yahoo groups like we do on social media these days. But a phenomenal amount of messages were pouring in and even the moderators were allowing them to be posted immediately. In that group ALL posts were moderated so they could take some time to appear. Hours later usually.
I was hearing of people who had narrow escapes, hearing about people whose friends and family were missing. People shocked to the core. People on foot near the scene. It was so strange to share the grief in some way when I was so far away from it all.
One Momwriter lost ten friends in one of the towers. Can you imagine that? Ten of your friends gone. It's unimaginable.
At the time I was running an online E-zine called Positively Woman and one lady shared a story there her husband wrote. It was of how he escaped from one of the towers and what it felt like being out in the street afterwards. It had all started off as an ordinary day for him and ended up as Armageddon.
It was definitely a day that shook the world. I had an article published about it at the time at the Canadian website Suite 101. People posted lots of comments. There was even one from a pilot's son his father flew airplanes for American Airlines. I remember friends contacting me from all over the world afterwards saying, take care, hold your loved ones tonight, sending our love to you from Australia, or wherever.
I think what came out of it all was that after that horrendous tragedy which cost so many lives, we held our own loved ones a little closer and thanked our lucky stars we still had them.
Thursday, August 07, 2014
Thea Horton was recently interviewed by a journalist about her book, The French Letter King. Her grandfather, Tommy Horton, had a condom factory in Merthyr Tydfil and was way ahead of his time. Read the complete article here:
Wednesday, August 06, 2014
It was ten years ago when I got 'The Call'. Now those in the publishing world understand that it means you got that exciting information from a publisher that they wish to publish your book! Many years ago it was more likely to have been a phone call or a letter. Though nowadays, it's just as likely to be an email or even a text wouldn't surprise me!
Anyhow I'd got 'The email'. I was so excited. It was my first novel, the first one I'd ever written 'The End' on. The first one I'd revised and edited and then followed all the publisher's guidelines and submitted for possible publication.
The publishing world moves at a snail's pace. My novel entitled, 'It Happened One Summer' had taken around 9 months to complete. As long as it takes to create a baby. In fact it was my baby.
I ended up submitting it online to a publisher in the US. Most of the romance publishers in the world are situated there. It was a small press but they'd published lots of novels and had a good online presence. I even knew a couple of authors published there.
However they did insist on a $45.00 set up fee. Being a small operation it had it's overheads and the person who printed the books was a separate operation. So I thought, fair enough. They weren't charging hundreds and even thousands of dollars like the big vanity presses did.
Fast forward two years. Yes, a full two years later my book was slated for release and that's not unusual in the publishing world. I had decided to donate all the proceeds to a charity I was working for and a big book launch was arranged with the mayor, other dignitries and the press. So, imagine my disappointment when the first batch of books arrived at my door all the way from the good US of A and I opened them to see all was not as it should be.
In fact it my was my son who noticed it first. He was 14 at the time and he looked inside one of the books and asked, "Mam why have they spelt your name wrong at the top of each page but it's correct on the cover?" I thought as my son was a bit of a joker, he was teasing me. But when I looked I could see he was telling the truth.
I checked book upon book and they were all the same. My surname was Rees on the cover as it should have been but Reese inside. I immediately contacted the publisher explaining my dilemma this was to be a big charity event at a local castle. There press would be there for heaven's sake! I got no satisfaction from the publisher at all. They were very blasé about it all. They didn't even offer a few free copies as a gesture of good will.
It was the first print run and all they said they'd do was make sure the spelling was correct for the next print run! I was mortified and had to go to work and explain the situation. It was decided to go ahead with the launch anyhow as it could take weeks or months to ship more books over from the US.
The launch went very well and all books sold out. There wasn't even one left for the mayor and some others, so more were ordered. I kept my fingers crossed that the next batch would be as they should and they were, though they took a lot longer to arrive and there were hundreds of them. The postman almost broke his back getting the sacks down the steps outside my house.
While this was going on I had a follow up book called, 'Return to Winter' accepted by that publisher, who I shall not name for legal reasons. There has already been a double page spread about this published in a national magazine. It was an article I wrote a few years ago and the editor discussed the merits of naming the publisher or not and we both decided against it, just in case it should come back and bite us both on the bum!
There were so many things I wasn't happy about with that publisher, including poor communication, that I asked to pull my book from them and also the second book due for publication, even though I'd signed a contract. After a lot of bad feeling from them I got them to release me as an author, though they probably could have fought it but it was a small operation it probably wasn't worth the hassle to them. And maybe I was a thorn in their side as I'd warned other authors about them at their online group. There were others there too who felt like I did and maybe they were worried we'd join forces. Several left after I did.
Anyhow I heard of a new publisher in New York who had just set up and I sent both books there which they immediately snapped up. They were great to work with and they gave me free copies of my books and didn't charge a bean. I had a good experience with those.
Of course ten years down the line, I've learned a lot and been published with other publishers since. I suppose the moral of the tale is, if it doesn't feel right, don't do it. And even if it does at the time, you can probably do something about it. The first publisher and the second publisher were like chalk and cheese. The first was unprofessional but still exists today with mixed reviews about them. The second has gone on to achieve a good reputation and now has lots of authors on their books. I was one of the first in their new stable of authors.
For anyone who has written a novel and wishes to send it somewhere I advise you to do your homework and find out as much as you can about that publisher beforehand. It might just save you a lot of aggro in the end...
Tuesday, August 05, 2014
I've been away from Facebook now since last Thursday evening. That's almost 5 full days...
So what have the negatives and positives been thus far?
Well it's definitely been a very positive experience for me. I've been writing up a storm. I wrote 4000 words of my novel in progress on Sunday alone. I doubt if I'd have done that if I'd been tempted to log into Facebook on the weekend. I estimate since deactivating my account, I've clocked up around 10,000 words. That's around a 1/6th of the first draft of most of my novels. Imagine how quickly I could write if I carry on like this? My productivity could soar through to the heavens!
I've also been reading a lot more too and have read one complete novel and I am in the midst of reading another.
I've also been enjoying reading and contributing more at romance writers' forums and reading articles about writing romance, online, etc. Better than watching arguments arise on people's walls and in groups on Facebook!
My only vice is still logging into the Interpals website occasionally to speak to the quirky characters there, but I might even abandon that soon.
I'm not constantly leaving what I was doing to check in at The Book any more.
Am I feeling happier? Yes, I think I am.
I think too if you leave a social media website that has been a big part of your life, then when you leave it even for a short while [as I did a couple of years ago] you rapidly discover who your real friends are. Those who have other ways to contact you, will! They'll email, phone or text you, or even as in one case, write you a letter!
All the others who don't seek you out are mere acquaintances. If you don't have their contact details, you've chosen not to ask. Others who do want to keep in touch but don't have contact details for you, will ask those that do.
They will CHOOSE to seek you out.
After all, for someone like me whose name is plastered all over the Internet....[my articles and stories have been published online since 1999 so I'm a bit of an Internet Whore] I'm not too difficult to find. My email address will be there somewhere in amongst my articles on various websites or on my personal blogs/websites.
A Google search for my name throws up around 254,000 results. Most of the 'Lynette Rees's' are me. There's a Lynette Rees in Australia who's a successful photographer and there's one who is some sort of quilter, one is a poet, another some sort of researcher on TV, another a lawyer. There was even one who was a belly dancer back in the old days when I first got online! But the majority of the hits are for 'Lynette Rees the girl from Merthyr who happens to be a writer'.
Sometimes I wonder if the photographer from Australia minds we have the same name as it must be annoying for her to see the writer from Wales taking over most of the pages at Google. But I had an online presence way back when....so I got there first I suppose.
So what have the negatives been being away from Facebook? None really. The only thing I miss is posting songs from You Tube and discussing them like some Hippy Internet DJ! I do miss some of the people though, but like I said, I'm easy to contact and I have told two friends to pass on my email address should anyone want it as we share lots of mutual friends on Facebook.
I wonder if I'll be speaking this way next week and still think it's better to be away from it all? Will I be straining at the leash to get back to Facebook or will I not give a jot?
Watch this space...
Saturday, August 02, 2014
I've been away from Facebook now a full forty hours. Yes, I can be that precise.
For time being I've just deactivated my account to see if I feel any better. And guess what...I do.
You see I'm not one of those people who only log in now and again. I am a full blown Facebook addict who can't resist compulsively checking her inbox, newsfeed and groups.
Some of the time I've spent there has been useful. I made some nice new friends who I've met in real life and kept in touch with. I set up a writing group that inspired and motivated me to write new novels and complete unfinished ones.
The trouble for me was, I was wasting far too much time there. I'd sometimes ask myself where the time had gone to. Another day without writing a chapter of my latest work in progress.
And OMG please don't talk to me about the drama on Facebook!! LOL
I was being a bit sarky there. So many people seem to look for arguments and quarrel over the pettiest of things. They also say things they wouldn't dream of saying to your face in real life. They hide behind their computers and class themselves as 'keyboard warriors'. Keyboard worriers more like as most of them couldn't punch their way out of a wet Echo and have so little going on in their lives that they want to cause mayhem and mischief on Facebook.
Let's be honest if they had more going on they'd pay scant attention to little things.
And of course, are these people real friends anyhow? Some of them will friend you on Facebook but walk past you in the street. Others will friend you in real life and ignore you on Facebook. What's that all about?
I have made some nice friends on Facebook, I've also lost real life friends over it too. Which is a shame but I think what happened was they showed their true colours online. Things I hadn't noticed about them before became magnified on the Book.
And the other thing of course, is Tagging. I don't appreciate being tagged in photographs showing up on my page before I've seen them, for the world and his wife to see. Of course there is an option to stop that now and I did that.
For me Facebook has so many privacy issues. Have you noticed if you inbox someone, key words are chosen from your messaging and appear as sponsored ads in your newsfeed? I remember one day a male Facebook friend messaging me, asking me a question about the book, 'Fifty Shades of Grey'. I thought, what's he asking me that for? Then he told me he'd seen one of my posts from that group appearing in his news feed even though he wasn't a member.
Facebook encourages stalking. I've had people follow me onto other people's pages and make comments, even though those people were not their friends.
And when you think of it, does anyone really care about the mundane things people post on their statuses? The things we don't need to know about, like how they got drunk last night and woke up with a hang over this morning. Or what a great time they had at a concert last night. No, not really. Quite frankly, I'd rather watch paint dry. Yet people seem to post these things as if to prove they had a great time. But can they really be having a wonderful time if they're not in the moment and constantly posting updates about the concert? Surely if they were enjoying it that much, Facebook would be the last thing on their minds?
So then, are people using social media to make it sound as if their lives are better than they really are? I think so in a lot of cases. I felt far more popular on Facebook than in real life sometimes.
This will be an interesting experiment to see how long I can resist. I might even be back there Monday posting, "I've just put out three lines of washing and baked a cake..." on the other hand I might just get on with my real life instead.