Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Just checking in...

Hello, Dear Reader!

I just want to thank you for reading my story 'Tis Charity to Show, and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I loved writing it!

I also hope you enjoyed my little rant on social media! Writing that was certainly a lot of fun!

I just want to let you know that I am starting the preliminary notes on a new story staring Star Trek's resident blonde bombshell.  I'm very excited about this particular story, and I'm counting on it to turn out well.

However, I need to give you a heads up on something.

This story might take a little while to develop.

As you know, I'm not one to rush on a story.  So, it may be a few weeks before it shows up on this blog.

Couple that with
a few challenging things that are happening in my life right now, time will certainly be something I'll need on my side.

So, here's hoping that you'll keep me in mind until my next Rand adventure appears on this page!

Thank you,

ProvidenceMine.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Why I Finally Took That Dump and Relieved Myself of both Twitter and Facebook!


Why I Finally Took That Dump and Relieved Myself of both Twitter and Facebook!


Author:  ProvidenceMine



You’re a new fan fiction writer.  You’ve just finished building your website/blog on a place like Blogger.com, Wordpress, or Tripod.  You’ve uploaded some of your stories and topped them all off with a little introduction about yourself, and the type of stories that you do. 

Now, all that’s left is to build a readership.

Of course, the logical thing is to continue working on your site, posting as much as you can, and maybe try to get your website/blog listed in one of those fan fiction directories.  That could take awhile though, trying to build your audience that way.

Hey, what about social media?  You know, Facebook and Twitter?  People seem to swear by them, claiming that these tools were responsible for the success of their blog, website, business or career!  Social media is supposed to get the word out on your product in a much shorter time period, right?   Why, you could get hundreds of ‘likes’ on your Facebook fan page and hundreds of followers on Twitter, which would surely equal hundreds of readers to your site, right?  All those people who follow you could be potential readers, equaling hundreds of hits to your blog, right?

Eh, not really.

Social media wasn’t the magic bullet that everyone made it out to be.

It was more like shooting blanks.

That’s not to say that my audience never grew.  It did.  Just not through any social media tools.  That’s why I dumped both my Facebook and Twitter accounts.

I didn’t need them, and I have no intention of giving any other brand of social media a try.

Dear Reader, let me take you on my own journey through social media, so that you may see exactly why I think social media is something that you can ultimately do without.

In May of last year, I opened a Twitter account on the emphatic advice of a relative who swore by her blog success through this particular tool.  I was a little hesitant, but excited nevertheless. 

Now, according to the founders of Twitter, one must tweet at least three times a day, because that’s supposed to be the best way to get a lot of followers.  So, that’s what I did.  I would sit at my computer, pad and pen handy, and brainstorm flights of wit in 140 characters or less.  I would even find things on the internet to retweet  (clicking the Twitter button under an article, picture or video on the web) back to my account, if I thought it was something that might be of interest to present and future followers.  Well, it took a little while, but it did pay off, having built a Twitter following of around 750 (I can’t remember the exact number anymore).  I even developed relationships—if you can call them that—with some of my followers.  At times, it could be fun.  I’ll admit it.  The only problem was that, for all the times I spent trying to build a Twitter following, I could have been doing a lot more writing for my blog.  In the false belief that Twitter would help build an audience for my blog, it became a preoccupation that, at times, took me away from what really mattered, and that was my writing.  In short, Twitter was time consuming.

Twitter was also lacking in results.  Eventually, I was able to obtain around 750 followers, give or take.  Now, I suppose I should have been proud of this achievement, especially since there were Twitter accounts that had been established before mine, but with a lot less followers.  I also should have been excited, as over 700 followers could potentially equal around 700 new readers.

Let me tell you all about the results of my hard work (LOL), laboriously tweeting and retweeting on my account.  Out of the approximate 750 followers I had on Twitter, I had obtained—guess how many of them became readers to my blog.

Three.

Three is a pretty measly number when you’re trying to build your readership, isn’t it.

 What can I tell you?   I followed the Twitter rules, and they didn’t deliver.  Needless to say, I was growing more suspicious about this whole ‘Twitter phenomena.’  Indeed, I was becoming really skeptical of social media in general, as Facebook was proving to be an empty promise, too.

I already had a personal Facebook account, so it was fairly easy to start a fan page for my blog, putting aside some of the technical glitches I had to endure.  According to the administration on Facebook, you had to receive 30 ‘likes’ in order to get access to your statistics, like the amount of visitors to your page.  Well, I must have been on this social media tool for over a year before I received 25 ‘likes’!  Believe it.  The difficulty I had in getting just 25 ‘likes’ was absolutely mind-boggling to me!  So, you can imagine how I disgusted I was when someone decided to ‘unlike’ my page, bringing me back down to 24.  Oh, dear.  It would probably be another five months before I reached 25 again.

Seriously, you’ve got to be kidding me.
I felt like a prisoner drawing tally sticks on my cell wall.  That’s a pretty good idea, I think, of how it’s like ( no pun intended) to be on Facebook.  Never mind the difficulty of trying to get my ‘Facebook friends’ to support my page by simply clinking on the ‘like’ button.  Out of the 56 ‘friends’ from my personal account (which, I’m proud to say, I dropped also), only 19 of them ‘liked’ my fan page.  And what cracked me up was the fact that some of the ‘friends’ who didn’t ‘like’ my fan page actually had the audacity to send me stuff that they wanted me to ‘like,’ or participate in, or sign.

Why, the nerve of some ‘friends,’ huh?

Now, maybe if I was able to bring readers to my blog through my fan page, then maybe all the trouble would have been worth it in the long run, except that the amount of visitors who actually came to my blog through Facebook, out of the 25( or 24) people who ‘liked’ my page was…

Can you make a guess?

ZERO!

Did they ‘like’ me?  Did they really ‘like’ me?

With ‘likes’ like these, who needs the ol’ kick in the ribs?

However, there was something that I found quite curious during my time on Facebook.  Many of the fan pages of independent writers would have as much as 300 ‘likes,’ but yet, when I actually looked at the activity on their page—the ‘likes’ to uploads, comments, conversations—these fan pages were like digital deserts!  Some fan pages had a little activity, but most had none.

Zip.  Nada. 

These fan pages earned a place of honor in the null set.

Remember your high school math, folks?

So, I started to wonder whether or not the amount of ‘likes’ one received on their fan page actually made any difference at all in drawing an audience to one’s site/blog.

Ain’t ‘likes’ grand!  Apparently, not these ‘likes.’

As for grand, it’s more like a grand illusion.

Meanwhile, back at the blog, my readership was indeed building.  While I never actually went viral, I did receive as many as 145 visitors, usually with a new posting, of course.  Sometimes, though, I could get that much when I didn’t have a new posting, which was always a pleasant surprise when I would logged in to check my stats.  While I didn’t always get that many readers to my blog, my readership was growing quite nicely.

So, what was going on?  What was the catch?

The catch was that they weren’t coming from social media!  They came from Google, Yahoo, Bing, and various links.

But not Facebook or Twitter.

Social media didn’t even enter into the equation.

So, what was the bottom line?

I didn’t need my Facebook or Twitter accounts.

Period.

However, I had a little problem.  I was hesitant to drop my accounts.  I was still stuck on the idea that social media was supposed to help me get a readership.  I thought that, perhaps, while it wasn’t helping me right now, that it would pay off in the long run.

But, wait a minute!  Social media was supposed to bring me an audience in much faster time than any ‘long run’ method, like networking, guest blogging, posting in fan fiction archives, or putting one’s web address in a fan fiction online directory.

Oh, boy.

Now, I was torn.

To drop, or not to drop my social media accounts?  That was the question, and an irritating one at that!

So, I started to do some research to see if anyone in that Vast Wonderland of Internet had come to the same conclusion I had.

Most of the articles that showed up in my search were, unfortunately, singing the praises of social media, and how to try to work without it would leave you behind in the dust.

Give me a break.

Then, as I was playing with more entries, this curious phrase, ‘social media is bullshit,’ popped right up.

Social media is bullshit?

I decided to check it out, not really expecting much, as leads like ‘social media is useless’ would come up with articles that were titled “Is Social Media Useless?”
Of course, the article would always end up telling the reader that it was the best thing since electric nostril hair clippers.

However, things were different this time around.  This time, I got more than some article or commentary. 

I got a whole damn book!

Social Media is Bullshit, written by a young man named B.J. Mendelson. 

The author actually had a whole website devoted to his book.  I looked it over, and I was intrigued.  This young man seemed to be saying what I had suspected about this social media thing! 

That it was bullshit.

Hype.

Without clothing.

Excited, I went over to my favorite online haunt, Amazon.com, and read all the reviews to his work.

Man, did I feel vindicated, like a wrongly confined mental patient who was rescued and then detoxified off of all those hallucinogens. 

No, Alice.  You’re not crazy. 

Did I order that book, you ask?  Quoting a former contender from up north…

You betcha!

I didn’t stop there.  I went over to my second favorite online haunt, YouTube, to see if Mr. Mendelson had any videos on his work, and he did.  I watched three of his interviews, a review of his book, and two lectures that he gave at colleges.  While I will not get into detail about the things he revealed on these videos, what I will say here is that he brought a harsh, glaring light to the social media myth! 

Then, the book came in the mail.  I sat down and read it voraciously!  While the author focused mainly on business and not-for-profits, he did touch upon individuals in the arts who were trying to spread the word about themselves( of course, this didn’t include fan fiction writers, LOL).  Mr. Mendelson’s book, which went into even more details than his interviews and lectures, blew me away!  It served as the catalyst I needed to finally grow some balls and dump Facebook and Twitter!

I took that plunge and never looked back, nor have I joined any other kind of social media tool.  When I dropped those accounts, it was like a fat chain was sawed off my ankles!  It freed me to do more of what was most important to me—writing!

So, my humble advice to any fan fiction writer considering social media?  Well, if conversing with an audience you already have is what you want to do, then knock yourself out.  However, if you want to attract more readers, or gain a readership if your site doesn’t have one yet, then here are the things you should do:

1.     Keep on writing!
2.     Post as frequently as you can without compromising your work.  In other words—no rush jobs!
3.     Try to find a site where you can guest blog, maybe even review other fan fiction works.
4.     LOVE what you do!
5.     Don’t, DON’T waste your time with social media!
6.     And, if by chance you happen to be on social media, and you have the same sneaking suspicions that I had about it, then do yourself a favor and dump the damn thing!

I’m so very glad I did!
 










Friday, November 1, 2013

'Tis Charity to Show Chapter VIII Part 3




‘Tis Charity to Show
Chapter VIII
Part 3


It was the large, strong, warm enveloping of Rand’s hand that lifted her tenderly out of her prolonged lethargy.  She opened her lids slowly to the shock of fluorescent glare that pierced laser-like into her eyes. 

“Of course.  Sickbay,” she thought groggily.

Her body felt like one long sandbag, even turning her neck was a struggle as she tried to look into the face of the man who was holding her hand.


“Janice, honey.  How are you feeling?  Talk to me.” 

His voice was so gentle, like the strokes from his thumb gliding back and forth on the back of her hand.  Rand smiled when she saw Khobran’s face emerge from the harsh pool of light.  Even though she was still weak, that look of adoration on her young lover’s face, coupled with his hand wrapped around hers, fortified her.

“Khobran,” she whispered.

Her voice was thin, hoarse.   Khobran leaned in, reaching out with his free hand to stroke the lines of her jaw, her hairline.  She closed her eyes, rejoicing in how the tips of Khobran’s fingers made her skin tingle.  Tears started to brim behind her closed lids, and she took a long, deep breath of quiet exuberance.  Oh, how she had missed this!

“Oh, Janice! You have no idea, in this known universe, just how much you scared me!   You literally looked like death standing on that transporter platform!” 

Rand opened her eyes.  “I looked like death, huh.  Thanks for that,” she chuckled.  “God knows I felt like death.”

“Well, you look a lot better now.  It took a few days, but the medical staff was able to bring your color back.  You’re still a bit thin, but you’re filing out at least.  How do you feel?  Weak?”

“Like a lead paperweight.”

“Mm, you poor thing.  Don’t worry.  Dr. McCoy says you’re getting better.  You and the rest of the landing party.”  

“Even Riley?”

“Yeah.  They’re operating on his face now as we speak.  The damage was pretty miserable, but Dr. Truth is confident they’ll be able to rebuild it to its original appearance.  Spock really did a number on him.”

You ain’t kiddin’!  Thank God of Dr. Begay!  He prepped Riley up real well.  He’s a good doctor, and, unlike some other doctors I know, a real nice guy,” she quipped.

“Hey, Dr. McCoy had all of sickbay working overtime to get you all back up to speed, so lay off him,” Khobran chided gently with a light squeeze on her hand.

“I guess you can be a good doctor and an asshole, too,” Rand snorted.

They chuckled, Khobran’s being soft and deep, while Rand’s was a bit strained.  Afterwards, there was a silence that grew between them, though it wasn’t awkward.  The expression on Khobran’s face grew more serious.  

“It was really scary for me, Janice!  When the ship tried to make contact with the landing party, all we got was static!  The captain even sent a shuttlecraft down to Tijus after awhile when all attempts to reach you failed!  But, the strangest thing happened.  When the craft reached the planet’s atmosphere, there was some kind of force field blocking its way!  Some glassy, amber colored force field.  It was as if that planet, or something on that planet, was determined to keep you down there!  It was really creepy!  I can’t tell you how frightened I was!  I couldn’t think straight the whole time you were down there!”

Rand didn’t even bother to hold back the tears, letting them flow down her cheeks.

“I spoke to Mr. Spock in the other ward.  He told me what went on down there, or the basics anyway.  The basics were enough for me, quite frankly.  The very thought of you down on that forsaken planet, going through all that while that thing was feeding off you makes me ill!”

“It was pretty awful, Khobran.  I honestly didn’t think we were going to make it!  That thing held us prisoner, tormented us by hurling our unresolved issues in our faces…”  Rand choked up, unable to finish her sentence.

“I know.  Spock told me about that, but not in any real detail.”  Khobran hesitated for a bit.  Finally, he took a breath, preparing himself.  “You know I have to ask you this, Janice.  Was our argument among those ‘unresolved issues’ that came to the fore down there?  Be honest with me.”

Rand closed her eyes and nodded.

“So, it’s fairly safe to say that I was partly responsible for your ordeal,” he said, his voice slightly cracked.

His fault?!  Rand opened her eyes, his statement having a sobering affect on her.

“Your fault, Khobran?  I don’t understand…”

“Oh, come on Janice!  You and I know that if it wasn’t for the argument  I started…”

“Khobran!  Listen to me!  Listen very carefully!  You can’t blame yourself for what was happening to me on Tijus!  Don’t be ridiculous!  You weren’t even down there!”

“But…”

“Khobran, if it wasn’t our argument it would have been some other unresolved issue!  Do you know that I was a relentless nose picker as a child?  Could you imagine how my nose would have looked liked at the end of the mission?”

Khobran looked at Rand incredulously, as if not believing that his girlfriend could actually make a joke out of the ordeal.  Rand gave him her best deadpan expression and wriggled her nostrils, like a rabbit.  Khobran shook his head and laughed, in spite of himself.  Rand laughed too, a little more robust this time, but still weak.

“Seriously, though,” she said after the laughter subsided, and her tone grew more somber.  “It’s just as much my fault. Frankly, I should have trusted enough in our relationship to tell my family about you.  I was just too damn insecure from all those past relationships.  You have to believe me, it had nothing, and I repeat, nothing to do with any kind of shame…”

“Janice, I know,” said Khobran softly, tracing the thumb of his free hand along her lips.  “I had time to think while you were down there.  I know you, I know you too well to honestly think that you didn’t want your parents to know you were involved with an Orion.  I know about those jerks you’ve been involved with.  I can understand this need not to ‘jinx’ anything.”  Khobran cradled Rand’s chin between his thumb and forefinger.  “I really hate what they did to your trust.  If anyone’s to blame for our quarrel, it’s those losers!  I promise that you can trust me, Janice.  If that means I have to keep reassuring you of that fact, then I will!  I love you so much, Janice!  I’ll never let you down.”

Khobran stroked Rand’s lower lip with his thumb, his touch light, feathery, enticing her to pout it just a little.

“I love you too, Khobran,” she said, her voice quivering slightly as the tears began to peak again, for the third time.

Khobran leaned in and brushed his lips to hers, kissing her delicately before pulling away. 

“You’re still very weak, darling.  So, that means I’ll have to restrain myself for awhile.  I can’t wait until you’re in top riding condition again,” he said slyly with a cock of his brow. 

“Mm, good riding condition, huh?  Be careful what you wish you, big boy!  You’ll need an ice pack by the time I’m finished with you!”

“That can cut both ways, sweetheart!”

He leaned in for another soft kiss, but this time, he added a little tongue for good measure.

“Khobran, honey.  When I’m back in ‘top riding condition’, we can contact your parents so that I can apologize to them and explain my behavior.  Then, we can contact my parents so that I can introduce you to them, OK?”  she proposed between kisses.

 Khobran pulled away.  At first, he didn’t say anything, he just gazed at her, his large violet eyes swelling with tears that threatened to fall.  His smile was sweet, slightly crooked, boyish.

“Oh, Janice!  Thank you for that,” he said empathically.

He stroked under her chin, along the length of her neck with his fingers until he reached the hollow of her collarbone. 

“Get some sleep, Janice.  I’ll see you later, all right?  I want you to close your eyes now.”

And she did, as Khobran continued to stroke along the lines of her face until he reached her forehead, stroking it gently from one temple to the other, lulling her into the most peaceful, gratifying sleep that she’s had in days.



                                                  THE END


  BASIC OUTLINE:  Started on 2/21/12  
                                    Finished on 3/21/12


DETAILED OUTLINE:  Started on 6/12
                                            Finished on 8/7/12


DRAFT ZERO:  Started on 8/11/12
                             Finished on 11/1/13            


FINAL DRAFT:  Dates as chapters appeared on ProvidenceMine’s Star Trek Fanfic Site.