Monday, March 10, 2014

Spring Writing Bootcamp

I am participating in this cool Spring Boot Camp that lasts from March until May

Here are my bootcamp goals:

  1. Write 300 words everyday on my new novel (24,600 words by May 31)
  2. Participate in A to Z blog challenge in April
  3. Make notes/conduct research/edit other writing projects.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

"Your Domain Registration Will Not Be Renewed" and Other Headaches

A while ago I received an email from Google about my domain registration "tademings.com" informing me that it would not be renewed because of expired billing information.

The credit card I used to purchase a one-year term for my website domain expired and so the auto-renew feature didn't work this year. I figured it would be an easy fix; I'll just go and update my credit card stuff so it has the current information. WRONG. In trying to sign in and change my billing information I kept getting rejected because the email I was using to sign in is not linked to my domain.

WHAT? The email that I use every day to log into my blogger account and write new posts on my website and all the things is not linked to my domain? But how could this be?

So, I looked all over trying to figure out what I was doing wrong. I read all the "help" pages related to domain issues and found, essentially, nothing helpful.

Finally! I found a forum somewhere with instructions on how to access my account--what Google doesn't want you to know (which I find oddly ironic considering they would get more money more efficiently if they would just let me update my billing information like I wanted). I managed to update my billing information in my "google wallet" (something I never knew existed--scary!) and I thought I had finally done it. I defeated the evil Domain-killing monster! But I received another email telling me that my domain would still not be renewed because of billing error and no auto-renew was established.

I had to start all over again, looking for someone who could help me. I even tried calling google services, but was only directed to an operator who wanted me to press 1 for what I wanted and then 1 for what I wanted again and then I was supposed to have a PIN from some website which I went to, but which was only more directions for how to got to this other website to get a PIN, which led me essentially back to a point where I had to sign in to the account with access to my domain--but I don't know what account to sign in with!!!! GAH.

It turns out that when you purchase a domain this magical account is created out of nowhere. So, the trick is figuring out what your actual "email" is of the many options (most of the places said that it would be either "bloggeradmin"@yourdomain (like tademings.com) or it would be your name (like Tiffany)@yourdomain (tademings.com). I tried all of these and it kept saying either that I was not authorized for this domain, or, my favorite and most frustrating of all, "this account has been deleted."

WHY IS IT DELETED?  I STILL HAVE UNTIL MARCH 27th TO UPDATE MY BILLING INFORMATION!!! I NEED MORE TIME. PLEASE DO NOT DELETE MY BLESSED DOMAIN.

After a couple more days of confusion, anger and frustration, I found another thing that had more weird loops to go through, secret codes to crack, and passwords to reset. And it was the trick! (at least I hope it was the trick). So, if you even run into this problem, here is a helpful blog that a helpful person made for those of us who cannot understand what the hell is going on with google sometimes.

And here is the most helpful forum of them all (because it helped me get to the point where I could actually use the above helpful instructions). So, what I did to make this information helpful was to replace my personal domain (tademings.com) with the one they were using in this password AND username retrieval thing: If you don't know your Google Apps username and password please use this link to retrieve them https://admin.google.com/beautifulthorns.com/ForgotAdminAccountInfo. Put your domain name in place of the highlighted domain and it will lead you to a magical place where you can discover what your brand new log in thing is. BECAUSE MINE WAS NOT ANY OF THE AFORMENTIONED ONES WHICH IS WHY IT TOLD ME MY ACCOUNT WAS DELETED! Apparently, Google updated all their domain accounts within the last two years (in which time you forgot the original account log-in anyway) making it seem impossible to get what you are determined to get. Now, the log-in is apps-admin@yourdomain.com ("yourdomain.com" being your actual domain like tademings.com and "apps-admin" being exactly what it is). 

phew! 


Have you had to deal with this horrible thing? 

I hope not. 
But now, my lovely domain will live on. 

Write on! 

Friday, March 7, 2014

Addressing Grief in Young Adult Novels

I attended a panel at the AWP conference in Seattle about addressing grief in books for children and young adults. Every one of the the panelists spoke about John Green's book, The Fault's in Our Stars. This is not a post about that book, but I just have to say, REALLY? For one thing, that book, while having some great characters and such, was not so great. The characters sounded just like John Green--have you seen his youtube videos? I have a hard time getting through one just because of his horrible, steady inflections. (YES I AM EXTREMELY JEALOUS OF JOHN GREEN'S SUCCESS, but that doesn't keep me from disliking the fact that all his characters pretty much sound just like John Green…).

Let's forget about that and move on to a really fantastic book: The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson.   This book was also mentioned in the panel about grief, though I was disappointed at the one tiny incident they focused on that had nothing really to do with the entire book that was her grieving. In the panel it was brought up that Lennie cut all these roses from her Grandmother's beloved rose bushes and then later, using the same garden clippers, cut up her own beloved copy of Wuthering Heights. First of all, anyone who has read the book would know that these two things come nowhere near touching the very weird way that Lennie actually acted out on her grief, which was making out with her dead sister's boyfriend. (um.. SPOILER ALERT! ? Maybe? Sorry).

I absolutely loved the way that Lennie is devastated so badly that she is then consumed by this intense need to make out with anything and everything--including the spoon at the breakfast table. It was a refreshing, funny, and complicated way at looking at grief which is why I think it was so successfully done. All the characters in the book were grieving (except for that one guy, but everyone else pretty much was) and the great thing about it is that they all grieved in their own unique way. I think that's a very important concept to keep in mind. I got this feeling with the panels that people want specific guidelines and instructions for how to use or implement certain plot devices (like grief or death or loss), but there is never one answer. One character will react in a totally different way than another character will even if they experience the exact same sort of loss (except it could never really be the exact same, but you get the idea, right?).

The sad thing to keep in mind, too, is that grieving is a process that takes years. When my dad died two years ago, everyone wanted to offer their condolences. They wanted to help me along in my process of accepting my loss and moving on and yada yada. The irony of loss is that while we may go through many of the same sorts of grieving "steps" like anger, denial, depression, etc, it may take years before we are in a place where the real sadness of the loss sinks in. When my dad died I was so angry with him. I had accepted his death before he ever died and I wasn't sad over it. But I was angry. Every now and then I see a photo taken in his kitchen or something reminds me of his house or his hair or his smile or how he sat in that ugly chair with the dirty pillow to drink his coffee. And in those moments I feel a little bit of regret, a little bit of longing. I wish I had drunk a cup of coffee with him--I wonder if that would have made our relationship any better somehow. Like maybe we would have both been more comfortable with each other if we both had a cup of coffee in our hands. I don't think that we ever fully recover from our losses (at least not the major ones--like that pink teddy bear I had when I was 6; oh how I loved that little teddy bear) but maybe our losses become a part of who we are. The memories that we could have had and the memories that are real come back to us at the thought of a semi truck or chemo therapy or a 60's era Dodge truck.

During the panel at AWP, a girl asked a question at the end about how a writer can really write about grief when they haven't experienced it. By grief, I can only assume she meant some BIG grief/loss such as losing a close family member or having your parents divorce or something that seems like a BIG DEAL. But the truth is we experience loss all the time, and, though we may not really recognize it, we go through the  grieving process all the time. We lose pieces of ourselves every day. A lot of people miss high school like crazy. Graduation is the mark of a new beginning, but it's also the mark of a loss. Friends move away. We move away. We get gym passes and then we cancel them even though we had a really awesome trainer friend and our muscles got so tough. We have pets and sometimes they get run over because we live on a highway.

Sometimes our loss may not be something that others think we should grieve over…but, here's something to show that we ALL (even the brainiest and most "protected" or "sheltered" of us) experience grief of some sort:

Grief doesn't have to be big. And, if our characters are experiencing grief that might seem bigger than anything we've really gone through (like losing a sister or a parent or a child), it doesn't mean we are disqualified from writing their story. We all know what it's like to feel loss. And, like Carol always said, it's a great thing when we borrow emotions and use them in places where we might need to use a little more imagination. Maybe I've never been to the moon, but I can imagine it and draw from other experiences and emotions to write about what would happen if one of my characters were to go to the moon. What makes for strong writing when it comes to grief is detail. It's about the little things--memories, twitches, ticks. It's about coffee, and root beer mixed with orange juice, little debbie snacks, pencil sharpeners, cigarettes, lug nuts, and the water spigot on the top of the million-year-old refrigerator.


How do you mourn?

Write on!


Monday, March 3, 2014

AWP Conference in Seattle


Imagine burnt hot-dogs mixed in with extreme b.o., car exhaust, and sewage sprinkled with wafts of chocolate and sugar, and you have the busy streets of Seattle. In this big, beautiful city everything seems to be so normal while being so strangely wild at the same time. Trees painted blue and strung with white christmas lights, people of every age and color and type tromping up and down the wide sidewalks past used bookstores and vegan restaurants and fancy, expensive places like Anthropologie. No one really seems to belong there together and that's exactly what makes them belong there--together.

Seattle is an experience. Expensive parking. One-way streets. Extra-long busses. And that city smell (see description above). What I loved about it was the people. All speeding up and slowing down, waiting at stop lights and cross walks, sitting on benches, running down the sidewalk--all in a sort of flow that only exists in large cities where people must move, breathe, and exist simultaneously in the same place.

The actual writing conference itself was no different (except the smells were a bit less potent) than the outside, city world. A wide variety of people--writers, poets, teachers, agents, editors--walking and running, and idly waiting on the escalators to get to the next panel or reading or lecture. All of them old or young weighted down by the free canvas bag with a 300 page schedule and various pamphlets and other items (candy bars, bottled water, wadded-up tissues, jackets, notebooks, menus from restaurants down the street) that only spacious bags tend to accumulate.

Many of the classes were crowded. Some of them because the rooms were simply too small, and the topics too interesting to pass up. People filled the chairs and sat on the floor, leaned against the walls, stood in the doorways--all the things you can think of to break fire-safety codes. The people were eager to learn, to ask questions, to meet other writers (but mostly to find out who was an agent or an editor). They were also exhausted and struggling to stay awake, antsy to leave and get something to eat. Some of them came and left as they pleased, not caring if anyone found their abrupt exit offensive.

AWP is the first writing conference I've attended that was so BIG. The classrooms spread throughout all three to six levels of three different buildings. Every person seemed so different, too.

I'll end right now by saying that I very much enjoyed the conference…though I think I enjoyed Seattle and hanging out with my mom more than anything. Up next will be an essay inspired by Pike Place, and a maybe a summary/discussion or two about things I learned from the panels I attended.

Have you been to a conference lately? Or a new city? And what did you think?

Write on!