Jumping to Conclusions- a true story of a coward

I am normally a rational person who debates all sides of something and who takes FOREVER to make a decision.

So what makes me jump to conclusions? FEAR.

I was in this basement last week checking on the equipment. Now basements are generally freaky places when they aren't finished, and this is one of them where the walls are kinda crumbly and shadows loom everywhere. So I did my thing and as I left, I noticed in the corner this greyish-brown round object that looked like an egg.

I ran.

I made this foolish crazy dash up the steps and slammed the door. Okay, now it sounds cowardish, but it is what it is. I ran because of an egg. But my first thoughts were, what the heck kinda monster lays eggs that round, that big and lives down here!? I was envisioning something alligator-snake-chicken-ish. I just didn't want to see it.

So after calmed, I Googled it. Eggs, round, brown, grey... got a nice list of potential suspects but none of them were really ROUND. So I sneaked back down the steps. Oh it was round all right. ROUND. I compared them again and settled on a very impossible hybrid bird-snake. Yup. I had a bird-snake in the basement. Possibly demonic because let's face it, nothing good would live in a dirty old basement.

I debated it for a moment and then realized the longer I debated it, the more chances that thing had of hatching. Oh. My. Gosh. I did not need two bird-snakes down there. So I found a box and a hammer. The plan was to roll it gently in the box and toss it outside. The hammer set my mind at ease in case at any time that simple plan went south. No idea what I was going to do with it, but I wasn't going down there again without it.

So I bravely rolled it into the box using the tip of the hammer (not my hands, that would be stupid). It was surprisingly light (or maybe I was foolishly strong?). From my experience, eggs are heavier than what this was. Regardless, I had it in the box. I shut it quickly and looked around for any other eggs. None.

So I ran up the stairs and straight outside. It was -36C out, but I didn't even stop for my jacket. I tossed it in the snowbank. It bounced off the hard snow like a ping pong ball. What the heck? So I leaned over it, much braver now that we were in sunlight and it was probably frozen.

It was a ball.

One of those hard ping-pong type balls infants roll around. Somehow it must have rolled down the steps and faded. No idea why I never noticed it until this week.

Still, I just freaked out over a ball a baby plays with. Sad thing was that not once did my brain rationally say, "Tanya, it's probably just a ball." Not once.

Ever jump to conclusions and live to tell about it? Your imagination ever get the best of you?

Are You Safe Online? Part2- COMMENTS

I really enjoy the workshops I host about online safety. We learn so much. So one of the big questions was:
 How can you be safe out there when you leave comments on forums, blogs, social media or when others are leaving comments on the things you post?  

During the workshops, we came up with a list of ways to get control of those comments. All these rules were summed up in two phrases:

TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR LIFE.
Follow the Netiquette: RESPECT OTHERS, RESPECT YOURSELF.

If others are leaving comments you don't find acceptable:
  • STOP following or sharing with people who make you uncomfortable.
  • NEVER associate yourself with people who might make you uncomfortable with their language, comments, discrimination, rudeness... Hey, they might be your aunt, your best friend, but online, they are out of control.
  • BLOCK, delete, and report if needed. 
  • DO NOT respond. It links you to them in searches and anything in writing is theirs. They can print it out, copy it, repost it, add it to your comments. (And yes, I have followers who use my "private" conversations with them in "public". It makes me very cautious of what I say.)
  • FORGIVE. Yup, we all make goofs. We found evidence that people can change their entire image. Let those past mistakes go. 
  • EDUCATE.
    • Yourself, your children, your friends, your parents. Everyone needs to be safe. If you can believe it, some made comments like, "Sure I saw her being stupid, but I figured after she got in trouble, she'd learn."
    • Know what the site is about and check it out so you understand how the comments should look. A forum that tears every single query to shreds, isn't going to do any less to yours. One that only leaves happy comments, will do the same to yours.
  • Watch for scams! Know what is real and what is a potential virus festival. 
When posting your own comments:
  • THINK before you share. Do people REALLY need to know this? Do they care? Is it important for them to know? Will they be upset if they don't know? Will it annoy them?
  • CHECK the settings before you post. Is this private, public, for certain friends only? 
  • ReCHECK 
    • Every time your application, device or the server makes upgrades in case things are reset to a default. 
    • Is a post suddenly getting a strange number of likes or shares? What's going on? Know your comfort zones and what to expect. Things can spiral out of control quickly. Deleting the source won't always fix things and once it's out of your control, the comments can turn into Meme's you didn't want.
  • UNDERSTAND. 

    • Don't take it to heart when your friends don't share your excitement at your good news or don't comment on the loss of you pet. They might not have seen it, they might be waiting to see you in private, or maybe they have other reasons for blocking you or deleting you. Their platform is not yours, you can't tell others how to control it, you can only control your image, your safety.
    • Know why you are on this application, device, social media, forum and ensure it responds to that reason. For example, if you want to fangirl and leave messages for your fav Rock Band, which forum is best suited for this? Should you comment under your real name? Know what you are on, evaluate why you are on it; educate yourself.
    • Remember that what you put out there--even if privacy settings are installed--is out there. Others will view it, share it, like it and the application might own it. Don't say things you don't want shared with the general public or future generations.
    • Understand how the site or the app you are on is making profits off you.
  • BE SUPPORTIVE of your friends when good things happen to them. It's nice when your friends are happy, isn't it? 
  • BE PROFESSIONAL: 
    • Remember comments are seen by everyone.
    • Be calm and professional when you respond.                
    • Check grammar, spelling and put out your best.            
    • Have proof to back up what you say if it is a fact.         
    • If you have doubts, have others you TRUST reread it before you post it.
  • AVOID fights. 
    • Settle these things in person not online. 
    • Explain or defend yourself only if needed. 
    • Keep it simple. 
    • Get someone else to explain it for you. 
    • NEVER EVER post in anger or sadness.
  • APOLOGIZE: If you goof, apologize and fix it. Remember to apologize on the platform where the goof was made. If you made an embarrassing typo on Twitter, apologize on Twitter not on LinkedIn. If your account was hacked on Facebook, let everyone on Facebook know, not on Pinterest.
  • STAND UP TO BULLIES. When you see bullying, stick up for your friends and end it by being positive, or simply report it.
What other things do you do to stay safe online?
Comment if you dare. lol.

My Be-Happy List

I have been feeling GREAT lately. No headaches and full of energy. Life is wonderful. But I know this is fragile. With work demands, writing pressures, headaches looming, life drama, my over dedication to my hobby, (passion, addiction, call it what you will), I fear a bummer day is just a breath away. It could be triggered by anything. So I figured, while I feel great, why not make myself a list of things I enjoy when I'm in this great mood, so I can run back and look at it when I need motivation? Hopefully, others will add to my list and we can all be stronger.

Here are the ways I hope to get over my bummer days:

Pay attention to others.
Nothing makes me feel better than helping someone else, but I keep it simple. I'm not out to be a hero, just help someone who is having a worse day than me. Sometimes, just helping a mother at the grocery store who is juggling too much makes me feel useful. Look around, we are all too busy, too tired... lending a hand is a small gesture that always makes me feel so good inside.

Play.
So winter gets too long around here. Which seems to get me down. But why should it? I can go skating, skidooing, read books, dig a hole in the snow and sit in it while listening to the silence. I can throw snowballs at my friends. You get the idea. Taking time to play is sooooo important in my busy life. It's how I recharge.

Write.
I stop editing to write. Editing is fun, but writing is healing.

Go someplace peaceful.
I always feel better after I go to church. It's peaceful. It makes me feel happy inside. I also feel better after a good bath. Nice smells, warmth... ah. Everyone needs comfort, and sometimes in these crazy days of juggling it all, it's how I find myself.

Surround myself with support.
Giving up is easy. Too easy. Why add to my list of things I have to do in a day? So why don't I give up writing to make time for something else? I married the right person. That's my simplest answer. I can say I'm stubborn, I'm determined, but in those moments of self-doubt it's my husband who lures me back to my desk with chocolate. No questions asked.

Reaffirm what makes me happy.
Best of all, I remind myself of all the things in my life that are so incredible. I remind myself that I am not supermom, super-employee or superwoman. No one demands greatness from me, except me, and then I'll go out and be great! Why not? lol

What gets you through your sad days? I'm sure we can add to this list.

A Peek Into Your Life- Stefan Jackson

 A peek into your life, is a segment spotlighting authors, specialists, and friends who brave my countless questions day in and day out. It's the best way I can share with you all, the many people who taught me the bizarre things I know, who satisfy my thirst for knowledge and adventure, and who keep me motivated.

I'm used to talking to Stefan Jackson in under 140 characters, weird I know, but we met on Twitter. We share that wonderfully daring publisher Elsewhen Press and somehow ran into each other. I think the first time I saw him he was choosing between reading Ghosts on the Prairies, New Mythos Legends, and Conan. Tough choice.

On Amazon
So a little bit about this sci-fi. It takes place in the future after some type of nuclear explosion changed a section of the shore to glass. I can't share more than that without giving away a plot twist. The world is very different yet kinda the same.

Welcome to a future where things like drugs, violence, and sex are a little more in your face... or maybe that’s just how Apollo sees the world. It feels like a happy world where everyone has a home, food, and plenty of time for... fun.

Of course, something big is going on and the action kept me turning pages. Apollo tells it like it is, in the moment. He is naughty, fearless, sexy, honest, and well... I won't give away all his secrets.

Jackson is creative in how he tells this tale and it results in a mind-blowing revelation. The twists kept drawing me, taking me by surprise. I enjoyed the thrilling storyline but the characters and themes that emerged still haunt me. Very enjoyable, satisfying read.

There are some other very different characters, and I say different because I have never met another like Nikki or Geek. At one point I was terrified of Geek. This guy is super nice and super smart, not to mention a little nerdy-hot. Anyone this perfect freaks me out! Plus, he seems to control the freaking world. Scary thought. But again, I won't give away his secrets because they layer into the book making it hard to put down.

To view Stefan's Facebook Page.
Where did you get the idea for Glass Shore?
The short story from William Harrison, Roller Ball Murder (1975).

Roller Ball Murder illustrated that entertainment is business and commerce transcends government. Also the September 11th Event and subsequent conspiracies and administrative programs by the United States.
There are many cool themes in this book that touched me and got me thinking. The one theme; that no one holds ultimate power over anyone or anything emerged slowly as Apollo grew. Was this theme intentional or do you find themes emerge naturally in your writing? Yes, power is an intentional theme in Glass Shore. It’s the base. The constant. The river to the sea; and that sea touches every beach. The meaning of power is on our terms. The individual determines who receives the gift. We bestow and remove power. (And you danced with this theme in your brilliant novel, Ghosts of the Prairie.) We are all Power. Some realize this via beauty, physical talent, intelligence, or violence. Unfortunately most reject it. Willingly pass it on to others. In Glass Shore, many fight for power, and one character took it by removing hostility. (Thank you Sun Tzu for the Art of War.)


My favourite character was by far Apollo. His raw way at seeing the world had me hooked. Who was your favourite character to write and why? Nikki. She’s a libertine on a mission. She pushed the story. Everyone was an opponent to her and consequently I learned about my other characters. Yet the story is presented as Apollo’s tale. He loves her and he tells us why. Again, it’s all about Nikki.
  

What song reminds you of this story? Led Zeppelin – The Rain Song.

What do you find inspiring to listen to while you write? I listen to jazz and film/broadway soundtracks. Two works that I played over and over: soundtrack from the film, Pi (1998) and Music from the Soundtrack "New York": A Documentary Film (1999).


What are you currently working on? An anthology titled: Tiny Towels for Fat People. Disjointed storytelling, graphic display. I want to work with artists, but I have created this piece and placed it on YouTube

Title: When I See Your Face. I created this forty-secondvignette in iMovie. Utilizing original art from my wife’s mixed media collection.

Music: My Death Will Be Spectacular. I began with a Casio CTK-720 then tinkered with the song in GarageBand. And yes, I have a cameo in the piece. I’m the man with the odd head. I like this production. I may work other stories from Tiny Towels like this. The stories in this anthology are not of normal structure. I want the reader to complete the event and fill in the backstory. The tale should read differently to all, depending on your life experiences. I have a completed script for a dark fantasy story called Recoil. And closing in on a rough draft for another speculative fiction novel with the working title, Absolute Chaos.

Wow! That's creative stuff.


What advice would you give writers looking for a crit partner or beta reader? For me, the best critiques are from groups, forums and such. Unknowns. 


What is the most interesting fact you discovered while researching for an idea? I wanted to create a new weapon for the story and decided on using a chemical. I came across a pesticide called diflubenzuronAfter reading the study, the backstory flowed like water and my weapon – Debbie – was as easy as rain.
 
Where do you do your best writing? Home, at my desk. I’m a morning person. I like to write as the sun is rising.


How much time do you spend writing in an average week? Not enough!


What book would you recommend as "this is a book every writer should read”?  I have two:

Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck.

The Jungle – Upton Sinclair.

Do you have any novels you shelved? Tell us about them. A horror novel about a man (John) that kills others based on their evil aura. A sight only he possesses. The story really goes south when John encounters Eric. Eric kills based on smell, and John smells evil to Erik. Yet, Erik does not look evil to John. I lot of blood and out of control characters. I’m just not feeling it. So it’s in the unfinished pool.


Do you over-write or under-write? Over-write. Over-write. Over-write. Over-write.


What one thing did you learn that you wish to pass on to other parents?  Be active with your family. Play, read, talk, eat, watch TV, listen to music, play games (video, board games) – be active with your family. My daughter wanted to play basketball, and so I’m an assistant coach for her team. My wife teaches my daughter how to sew and other crafts. We travel all around New York (city and state). We go to movies, plays and concerts. Not only do I have fun with my family, these experiences enhance and define my writing. My art.


Where is your favourite place to read?  My kitchen in the morning.  


What is the best thing about where you live? The ethnic diversity of Queens, New YorkThe borough’s 2.2 million residents as 50 percent white, 24 percent Asian, 21 percent black and 3 percent mixed race. Of the 71 percent who identify their race as white or black, 28 percent picked Hispanic as their ethnicity. Today, almost half of Queens residents are foreign-born and 56 percent speak a language other than English at home.

My wife is Greek. My daughter speaks, writes and reads the Greek language. How’s my Greek? Well, I can order water and ask for directions to the bathroom. :)


Based on your experience or research, what is a great place or time to travel to or visit? Why? I’ve had the opportunity to travel to my wife’s home on the island of Chios, Greece, in the fall. It was amazing ten days. Then we spent a weekend in Athens before heading back to the States. So Greece in the fall, that’s my suggestion.


What do you do for a living? Logistics coordinator. Book publishing.


Thanks for the peek, Stefan! You have some very interesting things in the works! While he's here, under my power, do you have any questions for Stefan Jackson?