Musings of a Creative

Blogmas, AOL, murder, and all the things…

How have you lovelies been? I’ve missed you! I was out sick (Boooooo) and then busy with birthday plans (Woohoooooooo), and now I’m slowly getting back into the swing of things.

Last week I blogged about my birthday spy mission, so I figured I’d save my “I was sick” explanation until this week.

But I have great things lined up, if you have a little patience as I work through them!

  • A collaborative Christmas eerie horror-esque story, which will then spin off into a monthly-ish series probably. (Still in the planning stages, so tbd.)
  • Editing my quirky psychological meta murder mystery so I can finally eventually share it with all of you.
  • Setting up an email newsletter for updates such as this. It’ll be the insider’s place, the first to see the book cover, a chance to be a character in a story, win my books, stuff like that.
  • Oh and hey, I’m learning about the publishing process more, lots of research. It may bore you to know I’m even researching Gmail because I’m trying to get out of my AOL email and into the 21st century. Not fun! I feel like a grandma, I’m so lost with this technology 🙂

I’m trying to figure out how to juggle all these things on top of blogging – which has always been a huge priority to me, and still is.

If you want to school this grandma on Gmail or join a holiday blogmas or be a character in my story or – hey, even hear how my mermaid curse has been broken – stick around. I’ll update you soon. You’ll always be my first and biggest fans, and my greatest community ❤

 

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Musings of a Creative, Relationships

The case of the sneaky birthday surprise

Top secret intel! Confidential

Report 10232017

  • Agent on duty: Aimster Birthday-Diva
  • Suspects: Traitorous Double-Agent Boyfriend and Messenger Unknown
  • Victim: Aimster Birthday-Diva herself
  • Kill date: October 23, 2017

 

On Saturday throughout 0900 and 1200 hours, I witnessed Boyfriend receiving a number of messages via the Top Secret Facebook Messenger app. This was the elusive Messenger who had yet to be identified. I tried offering to check his device for messages, but I was denied. He’s onto me. But I’m onto him.

Message decoded: My boyfriend was getting an unusual number of notifications from Facebook Messenger this morning. He’s up to something. My birthday is Monday. What’s he planning? He won’t let me check his phone… Darn… I’m right…

Perhaps at the orchard an ambush will be waiting. I’ll remain on alert.

Message decoded: We’re going to Tanner’s orchard for cider donuts. Who would he invite to surprise me? My family, maybe. Friends Yasmeen or Courtney? That could be the only plausible people. Right? 

At approximately 1300 hours, I thought I saw the culprit, the Arch-nemesis doppelganger-Aimster at the orchard, but no – her sidekick wasn’t there. It was a misnomer.

Message decoded: I thought I saw my sister at the orchard, but her boyfriend wasn’t next to her so it can’t be her. Confirmed: she turned around and, sure enough, it wasn’t her. 

At approximately 1400 hours, we left the orchard. No ambush there. I ventured to ask about the Top Secret app. It was no spy mission, he said. I must have been over-vigilant in my suspicions.

Message decoded: No one was at Tanner’s to surprise me. My curiosity got the best of me and I asked him, “Soooo what were all those Facebook messages?” He said it was his friends talking about a game night. Seriously? That’s what I was freaking out about. Sigh. Curiosity always gets the better of me. 

At 1630 hours we had a rendezvous with the Benefactors. We had to relocate our meeting by helicopter, so close to doppelganger-Aimster. The helicopter was shot down oh so close to her lair. I was wounded and separated from the Boyfriend, but we were reunited to make it to the final checkpoint.

Message decoded: We met my grandparents for dinner at Olive Garden, next to my sister’s workplace. When driving to my grandparents house for a game, Josh asked if we’d stop to see Anna right next door. “We have to meet the grandparents,” I said. “Any other time I would.” But we had to stop at Dollar Tree right next to Anna’s work for a birthday candle at least, Josh insisted. I ran to the bathroom and we met at the car. 

At the final checkpoint, it was a battle of the minds. I was separated from my cohorts once again.

Message decoded: We played Upwards (like Scrabble, but different.) I went to the bathroom again. (There really is no privacy in the digital age is there? I promise this has a point…)

Target locked.

Sunday at 1230 hours, doppelganger-Aimster intercepted my transmissions. “I have captured Boyfriend and demand a ransom. You have 30 minutes.” I agreed to the terms – my spidey senses were right about those messages yesterday! He is in cahoots! At 1300 hours, she arrived and released Boyfriend in no time at all. She had all she needed for her master plan.

Message decoded: Sunday afternoon, Anna called and said, “Okay, I don’t know how to say this, but I’ve been talking to Josh, and it’s about your birthday so I can’t tell you more, but I need to come by and talk to him.” I knew it! He was messaging her! I confronted him, he blushed and said, “I was caught in a lie!!!!!” I told him it’s okay as long as they’re conspiring for me and not against 😉 She stopped by and only spoke with him for 30 seconds tops. That was quick. Now what…

Target engaged.

Monday at 0800 hours, the Boyfriend was called on a mission far far away. I had my own mission, so we packed our stock of weaponry. “You have the code?” he said. “Yes,” I said and punched in the code. Since our mission was complete, we removed all evidence of the lair.

Message decoded: Monday morning, I had to get to work. He had to return to the land of Wisconsin, his home goshdarnit. When we were going back to the apartment for a second load of stuff, he asked if I had my key, I said “Yes,” and opened the door, no prob. Nothing special there, just your run-of-the-mill, me opening the door thing. Our pumpkins we’d carved were rotting, so we threw them in the dumpster.

1200 hours: I tell the other secret agents of Traitorous Boyfriend and doppelganger-Aimster, the Secret Messenger. What could the ambush be? Why the ransom demands?When will the attack occur? Today is the kill date, but with after-effects for a week. No telling when the ambush will happen.

Message decoded: I tell my coworkers of Josh’s secrecy, conspiring with my sister about my birthday. What will the surprise be? And why did they need to meet for 30 seconds when they could have just talked over the phone? Today’s my birthday, but we’ll have a dinner together next Sunday, so maybe whatever it is won’t happen til then. Who knows…

1300 hours: An epiphany! He had asked if I had the code, when he always punches in the code. Perhaps he transferred his code to doppelganger-Aimster yesterday. The lair has been compromised! Alert alert! I prepared to be ransacked, and then reminded myself not to get too worked up. My code was safe and secure. My lair was safe and secure.

Message decoded: I had wondered why they needed to meet, and I suddenly realized… He always has the key to the apartment in his pocket, so most the time I don’t worry about having the key. But he asked me if I had the key. Which meant maybe he didn’t have it. Maybe he gave it to Anna so she could sneak in with balloons or something. He couldn’t give her the key through the phone, of course they’d have to meet. She’s going to be in my apartment! Why would he do that? But ooh, what would I find? Wait now, let’s not get ahead of ourselves, I’ll probably get home and open the door and be disappointed because I psyched myself up for nothing… It’s probably my overactive imagination… He probably had his key buried in the luggage… Silly me…

I return to the lair at 1700 hours and find it ransacked with a secret message. Doppelganger-Aimster has struck! Nowhere is safe! We’re all DOOOOOOOOMED!

Message decoded: I returned home that night and found a secret message (she actually did use our sisterly secret code to write it, that’s not my spy imagination story thing), dinner, dessert, and breakfast. I’m starting the holidays early and pigging out! 

I went undercover and questioned the culprits. I found every step of their plan and all it’s foibles and triumphs. Mission accomplished.

Message decoded: I asked Josh “How were you going to get the key to her?” He was thinking after Olive Garden we could stop at her work, but I didn’t go for it. However, I did not suspect when he asked, it sounded totally legitimate. Then when we were at Dollar Tree, he thought of running it over to her while I was in the bathroom, but he was worried I’d catch him in the act. Then when we were at my grandparents, and I was in the bathroom (again), he thought of giving it to my grandparents but thought (again) I might catch him in the act. He thought of hiding it in the pumpkins, which luckily he didn’t, because I insisted they were rotting and to throw them out. That would’ve been a flop! I asked if he thought I really did see Anna at the orchard, and he said no. Anna asked if they should have talked longer so I’d be less suspicious, but I don’t think that affected my suspicions. Anna talked about being stuck at work when he was so close and yet so far. How all these attempts to meet up were failing, so she decided to move things along and try for a hostage negotiation – err, I mean, a meet-up that I’m aware of – figuring it wouldn’t ruin the end surprise. She was right. I loved it. It was quite delightful! And I had to share the story with all of you blog readers 🙂 

Mission accomplished. 

This message will self-destruct in 5… 4… 3… 2…

Musings of a Creative

Close encounters of a mermaid kind

I found definitive proof that I have been cursed by mermaids.

But wait! I can’t share the secret here, it’s much too easy to track. You have to go look at my guestpost elsewhere to hear about my mermaid encounters and the curse and what will soon take place. Go quickly, read, before you miss my enchanting take on life, the universe, and mythological creature conspiracy theories 😉

After all, it’s near easy to prove something exists; it’s near impossible to prove it doesn’t.

Musings of a Creative

The other side of TSwift’s video

I’m not even a huge fan of Taylor Swift, and yet I find myself blogging and defending her for the second time. I should be spending this time gushing over Gaga or squealing over Sia, but no.

Lots of people – almost every Tweet or article I see – is upset with Taylor over her new song “Look What You Made Me Do.”

 

Yes, as plenty of people have brought up, there are issues with this video. We’ve probably all seen those problems spelled out multiple times, so I won’t rehash them here, but Google or Twitter it if you’re curious.

But here’s the other side of things:

1) Taylor knows what Taylor’s doin

It’s not like she released this video and was shocked by the backlash. Someone somewhere down the line saw this coming and gave the warning cry, but more than that I’d actually bet that it was intentionally planned by Taylor and her PR team to create a controversial song in the first place. Not like “Oops, we didn’t realize this was a problem, how do we fix it?”

Instead of boycotting her, people hear it’s a problematic song and what do they do? They watch it, they talk about it, Tweet about it, blog about it (case in point 🙂 ).  And even bad press is good press. There’s more hype about her new CD than if she had released a cutesy song like “You Belong with Me” or even “Blank Space”.

Taylor even alludes to this in her song. That you can do what you want, even talk crap about her, but she’ll only always come out on top. She knows this. She’s calculated this when she created the song. The backlash only delivers more proof that her song is true.

2) Don’t even think this is about Kanye

I mean, it is about Kanye, but he’s only a small small piece of this. She’s talking to all the people who have trashtalked her and will trashtalk her. She’s saying she’s come out on top no matter what reputation we’ve given her. Kanye wasn’t a problem with all of those previous renditions of Taylor. Kanye wasn’t the one who mocked those identities of hers. This song is more big than any one person, it’s an anthem of hers. Like Katy Perry’s “Roar”:

“I used to bite my tongue and hold my breath / Scared to rock the boat and make a mess / So I sat quietly, agreed politely….You held me down, but I got up / Already brushing off the dust.” Sound familiar?

3) I see the lyrics “Look what you made me do” differently

One of the biggest objections to the song is the refrain “Look what you made me do”, a common phrase for victim blaming. Not exactly appropriate for playing the victim or for taking responsibility for your own actions. Kind of manipulative.

I see that side of it. But the side I first saw was this:

I thought Taylor was taking back her voice in the “narrative”, taking back that line so often used against victims. In essence saying, “Look what you made me do” is usually said after doing damage. But I’m choosing to be better than that. “Look what you made me do,” as in I just keep reinventing myself and becoming better and not letting you get to me. That’s why you see in the video all the different Taylors, all the different insults thrown their way, and how she just keeps morphing into a different Taylor and has withstood the mockeries.

We’ve seen lots of songs with that anthem, of not letting what others have done to hurt us get to us. I immediately thought of “Fighter” by Christina Aguilera.

There’s also “Stronger”, and just look at the video similarities.

 

I saw Taylor’s video as a message of empowerment and agency. Saying “I can handle the backlash. I will grow, I will improve, I will come out stronger no matter what you throw at me.”

She wasn’t physically attacking Kanye or any person in the video – she simply was transforming herself to improve and overcome. For an abuser, “Look what you made me do” usually refers to damage of some sort. But for Taylor’s video, “Look what you made me do” seems to be simply this – become better, become stronger.

Did she deliver that message successfully? Maybe or maybe not, but I think that was what she was going for. I will admit that the vandalism detracts from that message a bit, so I could be wrong.

4) We make Taylor out to be too emotional for doing what others are applauded for

Taylor’s video director Tweeted this in response to the backlash:

and I think he’s a little bit right. But it’s more than that, too. Even more than the guy/girl dynamic.

  • We applaud Adele for her emotional vulnerability, while accuse Taylor of being a mean girl or jilted lover for her regular songs about exes.
  • We applaud messages of female empowerment and speaking up for yourself, but when Taylor releases a response that says “I’m coming out on top of this”, we say “Tone it down, don’t be so bitter, maybe have a little forgiveness and move on.”
  • I mean, Carrie Underwood sang about vandalizing the guy’s car and that’s a popular song still, but God forbid Taylor get a little upset.

It’s funny how Taylor is simultaneously the beloved all-American girl and also she can do no right.

So yes, maybe talk about the victim blaming lyric issue or the racial dynamic of the song, but let’s not ask Taylor to be the nice girl every second when emotional depth and nuance is what we love most about songs.

 

Okay, I’m kind of nervous about responses, because I’m sure I missed something 🙂 but if you have a response I’d love to hear it in the comments. Just remember there’s a human on the other side of the computer screen. 

Musings of a Creative, Relationships

Something better than a chai latte

You might remember me telling you about my recent terrible horrible no-good very-bad day.

And it all started with a broken mug, which the chai latte warned me about but I didn’t take heed. (Yes, chai lattes talk to me. Don’t they speak to you?)

 

Question: What is better than something that warns of imminent doom?

Answer: Someone who restores the broken, replaces the ruins, brings hope anew. Okay, fine, answer is my boyfriend. 

Who scoured the Google-verse to find a mug in Scotland that would sell in $$ and ship to America.

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And that’s how I have my scunnered mug back and I’m not in the least bit scunnered about it 😉

I’m so glad to have known this man for 2 years now….

for the Creatives, Musings of a Creative

A little feedback can go a long way

Last week I shared the survey results for my quirky meta murder mystery book title. Maybe you want feedback but there’s no way you’ll hear from 50 people on a survey like I did (I asked thousands of people for that help.)

But I wanted to share that

I already thought I knew how the results would go before they ever happened.

Because before I created the survey, I asked a dozen people in a group and heard from about half of them. And the exact same results happened on a smaller scale – most liked “Memoir of a Murder” but for reasons that didn’t coincide with my story. Two people liked “I Know You Like a Murder” in a way that resonated with my story. And this response is like #lifegoals for a writer here:

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My friend Laura posted this – it wasn’t an analytical response as to all the reasons one title is superior to the other. It was an instinctive gut-level reaction, something that tugged at her that she couldn’t get out of her mind.

That’s what an author wants of a story, and I got that response just from the title. I had to pick that title! and as you saw from the survey results I posted last week, that reaction multiplied in the 50-ish people who responded there.

Mostly I just wanted to geek out and publicly squeal and gush over this comment, because let’s be real, it’s everything I hope my book will be ❤

But let’s throw in a little encouragement inspiration for you too while we’re at it 🙂 If you’re not sure on a decision, just ask a small group of friends. But don’t just ask the multiple choice – ask why the choice they made and why not the other choices.

Then watch for the emotionally gripping response, not some logical reasoning. You’ve got your reader hooked when they respond from the heart instead of their head. You don’t want them to think “That’s smart,” you want them to think “I can’t let this go.”

Musings of a Creative

The book title that got the least votes, but wins

Disclaimer: This has nothing to do with politics. Let’s not go there 🙂

If you don’t follow me on other social media, you missed out on a survey to vote on the title of my short story. (I’m sorry, I actually planned on posting it here, because you’re some of my greatest fans, but I suddenly had an unplanned deadline of 24 hours, so…)

And wouldn’t you know it, the title that got fewer votes wins. 

How’s that possible you ask? In short:

Reader responses….

If you ever plan on surveying your reader base, having an open comment section can make it take more of your time, but that time may be important.

If I only had the multiple choice options, here’s what I would have seen:

 

 

The image on the left is a “Select All” question of which titles the reader might purchase. The image on the right is the “Select One” question of which title I should name my book.

Either way, that light blue color is definitely not the “winner.” I would obviously name my story off the dark blue title. Right? 

But I’d made the decision to ask the voters to plead their cause. “Why that book? Why NOT the others?” and that’s where things got interesting.

First off, I found out the Yellow title – which off the bat was actually winning the “race” – a voter informed me that title was very similar to a title of a different story. Mine sounded like a spin-off. So I deleted that option right away. (Thanks voter!)

So what were the two competing titles, you ask?

Dark blue: Memoir of a Murderer

Light blue: I Know You Like a Murder

How did I Know You Like a Murder win without winning?

Reason #1: The response of those who chose I Know You Like a Murder

You probably knew this was one of the reasons. Check it out!

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To sum up, the readers who voted for I Know You Like a Murder got it! It made them think. They’re my type of reader. “Quirky, personality, weird, unusual”, they get the vibe of my story. If you voted for this title, this may be the story you’re looking for 🙂

 

But there was another reason that pushed me to choosing I Know You Like a Murder.

Reason #2: The response of those who chose Memoir of a Murderer

Maybe you didn’t see that one coming. But first off, those who picked this title were looking for a deep internal look at a murderer. And my story isn’t that story – though that’d be a great story for someone 🙂

More than that though, their responses about I Know You Like a Murder and why they didn’t vote for it, just made me want to pick it even more. 

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  1. My protagonist is definitely patronizing
  2. Doesn’t that “I’m not sure about buying it because I don’t want people to think I like murder comment” just make you want to name the title that?
  3. “Odd.” Uhmm, yeah. If everyone thought the title was odd and wouldn’t buy it, sure, I’d want to take that into consideration. But the fact it’s odd reaches a niche audience that we’ve already seen want odd, and that’s what I’m going for, so this just confirms that THIS reader isn’t MY reader. And that’s fine 🙂
  4. My protagonist is definitely presumptuous, and this is hilarious.
  5. “I don’t like murder.” Uhmm, yes you do, in the first sentence of your response you said you found it intriguing 😉 hehe once again, doesn’t this just make you want to name it I Know You Like a Murder?

The responses showed me that if I named the story Memoir of  a Murderer, more readers might pick it up, but they’d be the wrong readers. They’d start reading and hate the story and I’d have missed my audience.

But if I named my book I Know You Like a Murder, it’ll be a smaller audience, but it’d be the right audience, that audience looking for a story like mine, that would like a story like mine. It’s my niche, my tribe, my people who get me 😉

 

Do You Like Murder [Mysteries or Writing]?

And so, that’s how it was determined that my story will be titled I Know You Like a Murder.

  • Sound interesting? Stay tuned to get your hands on it.
    Sound horrible? Mehh okay, it’s not for you. Sound off in the comments below – don’t worry, we’re still buds 🙂

Think I made the right choice, or wrong choice?

And hey, are you interested in writing Memoir of a Murderer, because it sounds like a cool story that people want to read 🙂 Have at it!