159 Russians

I’ve been invaded. 

You may have noticed that I haven’t been posting much in the past few months or even in the past year. Excuses: Depression, Black funk (possibly related to our Commander in Cheat). So, I wasn’t paying much attention to what the Russians were doing on my website.

Yes, RUSSIANS!

No joke. 

When I sent my last post out 10 days ago, I used my mail service, MailChimp. I designed my email, and hit the send button. And Voila, you got an email from me. The next day I went back into MailChimp to check on how many people opened the email. 

Be aware…I can see who opens their email. 

Much to my surprise my mailing list had grown from 108 subscribers to 267. The email addresses looked legitimate. Funny thing though, 155 didn’t have normal first or last names.

Oh, hi there, 5cbccba1dea9f  5sbssba1deade. Nice to meet you. Where are you from? How did you come upon my website to sign up?

I’ve learned about REDACTING lately. Email addresses of real people are redacted above.

On MailChimp you can check the profiles of your subscribers. In all these years I’ve never clicked on anyone’s name, because I already knew all my subscribers. But I don’t know who Mr. 5sbssba1deade is. So I clicked. Language: Russian. So I checked more names, all 155 were Russian. Then I clicked on their locations—Austria, Moldova, Netherlands (I didn’t check everyone). Then I started deleting people. 

I was bumping off the Russians! 

I am an Assassinator.

But the Russian Invasion kept me up all that night. Why me? What did they want with my blog?

Theory 1. They’re trying to learn casual English, so that when they invade our social media to try to steal the next election, they’ll sound like us.

Theory 2. They’re simply malicious hackers.

Theory 3. They’re Bots. Robots. One of the Bots included her photo—she’s very scary. I wonder if her image was stolen by the Russians?

After deleting 155 Russians on Easter Sunday, I woke up yesterday and there was a new one. And as of this moment there are four more. 

Yesterday I wanted to contact MailChimp tech support, but since I wasn’t a paid subscriber to the service, I wasn’t allowed. My mailing list is under 500, so I’ve had a free account for the past ten years. 

So I signed up…for $10 a month I can get tech services. After an hour or two yesterday, and a small amount of hair pulling and desk pounding, I figured out how to contact them.

Just this minute, as I’m writing this, I got an email response! 

Chimp says what I have is “Spambots.” I don’t think it’s contagious. Measles are going around because some stupid shits don’t vaccinate their kids.

Solution (but not to the measles problem): Chimp said I did good by deleting the Russians. Now I need to add something to my signup form to block them.

So… to my writing friends, if you have a mail service, check your audience.

And if you find Russians lurking in your space…wipe them out.

Observation

On February 28, I was the guest author at my friend Gale Cunningham’s book club. They’d read my novel, “Intentional” and had smart questions and interesting comments. It was fun. 

Then Gale brought out a little book I’d done years ago with photos from my series of paintings of fabric. It got some “ohhs” and “ahhs” and someone said, “Wow, you can paint and write.”

One of several small books I created on Blurb.
https://www.blurb.com/b/609580-images
One of several small books I created on Blurb.
https://www.blurb.com/b/609580-images

And my response was that I’m really bad at science and math. I could have added foreign languages, sports and a lot of other things that other people are very good at. I know, you shouldn’t have to apologize for being good at a couple things, or rationalize away their value by telling what you’re bad at.

But I did it, and what’s done is done.

Meanwhile, I’ve been thinking about the similarities between the two things I am good at…art and writing, and basically I think it comes down to observation.

Photo by Lukasz Lada

Seeing: as an artist you see details, that tiny edge of yellow in the pink sunset, that a particular shadow is made of blue and green and purple and not just variants of black. Details. And then you take those visual details and arrange them into something new and interesting. In writing, particularly in fiction, you’re observing the visuals (that tiny edge of yellow in the pink sunset), but also behavior, and interactions between people; then rehashing, embellishing, reducing, enhancing, and reimagining what you observe into something new.

Is this what makes me sensitive to details in everyday life—that wrinkle in the bedding that I have to straighten? Noticing. All the time noticing. The loose hair on my shoulder? 

Or maybe it’s a bit of obsessive-compulsiveness.

I used to be good at dancing too (I don’t think it has anything to do with anything).

So, tell me, what are your strong suits? Bragging is encouraged here…

When Clouds Look Like Mountains

I was on the treadmill looking into the distance at low gray clouds. They looked like mountains. So I moved myself from Detroit to Denver and was on a treadmill there, looking out at the Flatirons. Treadmills are really boring, your feet move but you don’t go anywhere, so your brain (mine anyway) takes off at a trot.

So I’m thinking about what things look like and what they really are.

Continue reading “When Clouds Look Like Mountains”

Autumn Fantasy

Here’s how my brain works:

I’m out in the front yard blowing leaves and thinking of a scenario. Leaf clean-up is something John usually does, and when he gets home from his office (Panera), he’ll see the piles of leaves along the curb and say, “Oh, wow! You raked the leaves.”

To which I’ll reply, “No, two college guys came by and offered to do it for free if I’d have sex with them.”

He laughs.

“That’s not funny,” I’ll say and pout. “Why would that be funny?”

Continue reading “Autumn Fantasy”

I voted

“Vote early and vote often,” John likes to tell me. He thinks that’s funny.

We voted early 7:45 a.m. (just once each). We got up, and walked a half-block down to our community center. It was bustling with voters—some with their children. There were twice as many voting stands as there was for the last presidential election, or actually, any past election that I can remember. My friend, Jody, an election official was busy-busy.

I felt scared (about the outcome) and exhilarated at the same time. I voted: colored in all the boxes with my choices on my paper ballot, then feed it into the vote-reader machine. I stuck my “I Voted” sticker on my jacket.

There were cookies and coffee in the lobby. One of my friends from the Gym (in another room in the Community Center) told me that the cookies with the M&M’s were really good. He was there with his trainer and after voting he was going to do a 45-minute workout. He’s 90.

Our very cool Gym. We are soooo lucky.

John and I walked home eating our cookies.

I was wired, not from the cookie with the M&M’s (sugar rush), and I hadn’t had any coffee yet. I needed to be with people. “Let’s go out to breakfast,” I suggested.

So we did.

For a Tuesday morning the restaurant Toast was packed, so we sat at the counter. Most of the people wore “I Voted” stickers. I wanted to go around and hug everyone in the place.

A black man sat down two stools away. He wore his sticker and I pointed at mine and gave him a thumbs up. Then we had a good chat. His name is Mark and he’s praying for the election outcome, I showed him all my crossed fingers.

Crossed fingers, thumbs and wrists.

Then a young blond woman sat on the stool between Mark and me. I didn’t see a sticker, and asked if she voted.

“Not today,” she said, and my happy balloon popped.

But then she told me she had absentee voted. She’s from Portland, Oregon, and getting her Masters degree at Cranbrook.

Oregon has respect for its citizens. They make voting accessible to everyone, everyone gets mailed a ballot, and they can vote or not as they choose (they can also vote in person).

What a good idea.

But, if I voted by mail, I wouldn’t have had that cookie, and I probably wouldn’t have had such a good time chatting with nice people…Citizens of the United States of America!

PS. Want to share your voting experience? I hope it was as easy and pleasant as mine.

 

Save the Date

This Sunday! This coming Sunday! October 28th!

It’s coming up fast. I’ll be at Leno & Lulu’s fabulous store taking part in their Books & Authors Event. I’ll have a stack of books to sell (the ones I wrote, of course), and some nice FREE bookmarks to hand out.

96 W. 14 Mile Road, Clawson 480176

11:00 till 5:00

If you already have my books, come anyway…Check out this great store, they have lots of unusual and interesting things. It’s a fun place.

So, please stop by and say hi, I’d love to see you.

A Dirty Word

On Tuesday night I was a guest at Linda Borowski’s neighborhood book club, where fourteen women gathered in a comfortable circle. They had bought my novel A Bird in the House a few weeks before, and so were prepared with thoughts, questions, and comments. They listened to me talk. We drank wine. It was a really lovely evening with genuinely kind and interesting women.

At the beginning there was some discussion about the opening sentence of the novel…“Two women—one old, one ancient—sat on plastic chairs on their front porch.” Continue reading “A Dirty Word”

Making Cuts

There’s a rumor going around that old women shouldn’t have long hair. I’m taking issue with that idea. How else do you hide your old neck?

There’s so much an old woman can do with her long hair:

  1. Hide sagging breasts,
  2. Put it in a bun and carry a cane to entice Boy Scouts to help cross the street,
  3. Crochet a sweater out of the strands that fall out of her head and grace her black sweaters,
  4. Put it in pigtails and pretend she’s in her second childhood.

Continue reading “Making Cuts”

Write Something!

There’s a post-it note on my blog intro page. Write something” it says. December 11 was my last post, so I guess it’s time. Shall I write a catch up post? How I spent my summer vacation, although it’s winter. It’s been tough, but not terrible. Maybe I haven’t been writing because whining isn’t interesting to hear or read.


Continue reading “Write Something!”

Paper Trail Books

There’s a new bookstore in town. And guess what?

They have signed copies of both of my books, Intentional and A Bird in the House! So if you have a deep craving for one of my novels, or you can’t figure out what to get your Aunt Mable this Happy Holiday season—head over to Royal Oak. Dave also has lots of other peoples’ books, including Annis Pratt’s newest novel The Battle for the Black Fen.

Small Business Saturday is tomorrow. So if you like the idea of having a local bookstore, visit Paper Trail Books and buy something. Anything. Let’s keep them in business.

Paper Trail Books
Hours are 11am until 8pm
Seven days a week
414 S. Washington
(next door to Cafe Muse)
Royal Oak, MI 48067

But, Wait! There’s more…
Don’t you I think I should make myself available for late night TV commercials?

 

NaNoWriMo

November is National Novel Writing Month. Figuring I’d be confined to quarters for some of the month, because of the dratted nose cancer being removed on November 1st, I signed up for NaNoWriMo.

I’ve committed myself to writing the first draft of a 50,000 word novel during the month of November. Thousands of writers around the world take part in this craziness. You’re allowed to work out the plot and characters before the start of this month. I didn’t do anything.

Continue reading “NaNoWriMo”

Book Launch Party This Thursday

It’s on my calendar…. I’m coming!

Thursday, October 26th
7:00 pm
Birmingham Unitarian Church
38651 Woodward Ave, Bloomfield Hills, MI 48304

The books have all arrived. Whew! Wouldn’t it be scary to have a book party and no books? Am I stressing? Oh, please…it’s just a party. People I like will be there. There will be treats. There will be beverages. I get to talk. I like all that stuff, so I’m not stressing…much.

Continue reading “Book Launch Party This Thursday”

Count Down

Everything has a time frame.

  1. October 2, Monday: THE novel will be available on Amazon. I know—you can hardly wait.
  2. Around noon today: I’ll go get meatball subs to take down to the trailer for the Bogner Boys. I know—they can hardly wait.
  3. October 9th: Deadline for the Kirkus Review of A Bird in the House, a novel, but it came early. AND it’s a good one. I didn’t have to wait.
  4. November 1st: Mohs surgery on my nose. Remember that scary spot on my nose? It’s basal cell carcinoma. I can wait.

Details…

Continue reading “Count Down”